Rep. Chaffetz Makes Excuses For Refusal To Raise Minimum Wage

Never mind those record corporate profits, this GOP Rep wants you to believe that raising the minimum wage is going to force companies to stop hiring teenagers.
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Never mind that the minimum wage would be $22.62 per hour today if it had grown at the same rate as the earnings of the one percent. Never mind that most minimum wage earners are adults. Never mind that most Americans favor raising the minimum wage. That wasn't going to stop Rep. Jason Chaffetz from defending the Republicans' skewed priorities in the House of Representatives to host Stephanie Cutter on this Wednesday's Crossfire, or pretending that raising it would keep companies from hiring teenagers.

CUTTER: I'm hearing (ph) what you passed, not how many. Exactly the substance. Where are your priorities? What at are the priorities bills?

CHAFFETZ: No doubt. When the president goes and starts talking about minimum wage, and hear you all these sad stories, you got to look at what the president is actually doing, because he's exacerbating the problem. He's not making the problem better.

CUTTER: Calling for an increase in the minimum is exacerbating the problem?

CHAFFETZ: Well, yes, I do. I do really think about. I look at the youth. I look at when I grew up. I got a job when I was 14 years old. My dad said I had to get out there and get a job.

I worked as a gardener in Arizona, and then I worked at -- and then I realized I was a white collar person, so I decided to get a job at the general cinema corporation, wearing my short sleeve, white short, my bowtie and my powder blue coat. And I realized I wasn't even making minimum wage because I work at a movie theater.

Guess what? I was exempt from the minimum wage, but you know, I was a kid. I didn't care. I learned how to work. I learned the value of a dollar. And every time the president decides that he wants to just raise the minimum wage, you're going to take this whole group of youth and prevent them from getting an opportunity, because employers are going to look at that and say if it's going to cost more for labor, I'm going to hire less people. And that's the cruel reality.

CUTTER: Can I do just one follow up? That's never proven to be true. An increase in minimum wage actually increases employment because you're investing in your workforce. And many, many CEOs, most people on minimum wage work for large businesses, not small businesses. Many of those CEOs agree with it, going all the way back to Henry Ford.

CHAFFETTZ: And if they want to retain good quality employees, they're going to make sure they've got a good competitive market.

Now, in North Dakota, where the energy sector is cutting loose and doing great things, they don't have a minimum wage issue there. We've got to make sure we are investing in education and getting training.

CUTTER: I absolutely agree with you. We should talk about that, too.

Our frequent contributor, Richard Eskow discussed earlier this year exactly what we were seeing from Chaffetz here:

Corporate interests and their elected representatives have created a world of illusion in order to resist paying a decent wage to working Americans. They’d have us believe that minimum-wage workers are teens from ’50s TV sitcoms working down at the local malt shoppe. It’s a retro-fantasy where corporate stinginess creates minority jobs, working parents can’t possibly be impoverished, and nobody gets hurt except kids who drive dad’s convertible and top up their allowances with a minimum-wage job slinging burgers.

But then, you probably need to resort to fantasy arguments when you’re arguing against a minimum-wage increase supported by nearly three-quarters of the voting public. That’s also why it’s important to demand that Congress allow an up-or-down vote on the Fair Minimum Wage Act, which would raise it to $10.10 and then index it to inflation.

Here’s the truth: Most minimum-wage workers are adults, the majority of them are women, and many are parents who are trying to raise their children on poverty wages. [...]

The Fantasy This may not be a “Leave It to Beaver” world, but there are plenty of real-life Eddie Haskells. Remember Eddie, the unctuous and untrustworthy high-school self-promoter? Think Mitt Romney – who supported raising the minimum wage, at least in principle, until he began a presidential campaign that was funded by his fellow millionaires and dependent on today’s radical right. Then he reversed himself quicker than a fella could say “You look lovely today, Mrs. Cleaver!”

Romney argued that the minimum wage should be tied, not to productivity or executive gains, but to world indicators. That would create a global wage race to the bottom, one that hurts everyone except the wealthiest corporate leaders worldwide. That’s the point, of course. (“You look lovely today, Frau Merkel!”)

Last month Republicans in Congress rejected a proposal that would have raised the minimum wage to $10.10. They’ve also indicated they would reject the president’s more modest proposal for a $9.00 minimum.

True to form, they keep trotting out that tired old “malt shoppe” argument. Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, for example, said she opposed a higher minimum wage because “you’re going to exclude a lot of younger workers.”

Remember, more than eight out of ten workers affected by a minimum wage hike are adults.

And they still haven't moved an inch. I'm glad to see President Obama drawing attention to the issue, but this is the kind of stuck and stubborn attitude he's up against.

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