Jobs, jobs, jobs. Did we mention jobs? Because everyone else has.
Politicians on both sides are rightfully talking about the thing 14.8 millions Americans don’t have but want: a job. But some are maybe doing a better job than others. As several prominent Republicans have shown recently, when it comes to one of the basic foundations of the working class in America — the federally-mandated minimum wage — they have no clue what it is. Or want to get rid of it altogether.This is quite a lapse in judgment from the party which enjoys calling itself the home of the “job creator,” better known as the wealthy person who hires others and pays them to do things. If those workers are hourly, chances are they make more than the minimum wage, of course. But it’s likely the workers know how low their wages could go .
Democrats want to talk about the minimum wage, and a recent poll shows it’s a discussion many Americans want to have with them. A survey by the Brookings Institution showed 67% of respondents “support gradually raising the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to at least $10.00 an hour.”
In the meantime, Republicans seem to be giving Democrats a lot of fodder on this issue.
1. Michael Steele
As a guest on MSNBC recently, the RNC chairman made it easy for viewers to get the takeaway from the interview. “That’ll be your headline,” Steele told show host Lawrence O’Donnell. “‘Steele doesn’t know the minimum wage.'”
(But that’s OK, Steele added, because the topic is “irrelevant” to the electorate this year, anyway.)
2. Linda McMahon
The Republican nominee for Senate in Connecticut employed many, many people in her former job as CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment. But, as she admitted earlier this month, she doesn’t know what the minimum wage is — and seemed to suggest that it’s too high.
“We have got minimum wages in states, we have got minimum wages in the [federal] government,” she said recently. “And I think we ought to look at all of those issues in terms of what mandates are being placed on businesses and can they afford them.”
Later, McMahon backpedaled, saying she doesn’t want to reduce the minimum wage, acknowledging that “perhaps” some of her lowest-paid employees at the WWE earned the state minimum (which is $8.25 in Connecticut.)
3. Joe Miller
The Republican nominee for Senate in Alaska — and one of the year’s many incumbent slayers — is pure tea partier. So pure, in fact, that he’s convinced the federal minimum wage is unconstitutional and he wants it abolished.
“The state of Alaska has a minimum wage which is higher than the federal level because our state leaders have made that determination,” Miller told ABC News. “The minimum level again should be the state’s decision.”
To those who might think the stance a bit harsh, Miller’s got an idea for you. “If you like big government, move to Massachusetts,” he said.
4. John Raese
If you think Miller’s harsh when it comes to the minimum wage, just wait until you meet the Republican nominee vying to fill the late Sen. Robert Byrd’s (D) seat in West Virginia. Raese, another one of those job-creating business-types of which the GOP is so proud, says the whole system of salary and pay worked in those golden years before the minimum wage became law.
“A lot of times the jobs that would be created for the youth of our country are taken away by a hideous situation with minimum wage,” Raese told the Beckley, WV Register-Herald. “I profess that minimum wage be eliminated and we operate on the laws of supply and demand just like we did before the depression.”
Not surprisingly, Democrats jumped on the statement. They clipped this video from a recent CNN interview with Raese where the nominee was asked to explain his view:
5. Dino Rossi
More fun for Democratic oppo researchers comes in Washington state, where Rossi — the Republican nominee for Senate and two-time gubernatorial loser — is getting hit with his past statements opposing the minimum wage. Here’s a look at a state Democratic party clip from the 2008 governor’s race outlining the debate Rossi had over the state minimum wage with Gov. Chris Gregoire that year:
At issue that year was an upcoming increase in the state minimum wage, which was to increase from $8.07/hour to $8.55/hour. Here’s how the Seattle Post-Intelligencer described the differences between the candidates:
Gregoire, daughter of a single mom who was a short-order cook, a career politician and supporter of labor unions, has vowed to uphold it.
Republican challenger Dino Rossi, a self-made millionaire, a businessman who believes in the free market and a limited role of government, supports efforts to reduce it.
Rossi hasn’t addressed the subject of the federal minimum wage in the Senate race, but Democrats say his past position on the state increase suggest he’s no friend of the federal minimum wage today.