The White House, aware that its desire to raise the minimum wage is meeting stiff opposition and that Barack Obama is abroad at the moment, placed its most articulate and eloquent substitute for Obama in front of the American people during the White House’s weekly address to try to sell the public on the hike. And that person was Vice President Joe Biden.
Biden began by stating:
There’s no reason in the world why an American working 40 hours a week has to live in poverty. But right now a worker earning the federal minimum wage makes about $14,500 a year. And you all know that’s incredibly hard for an individual to live on, let alone raise a family on.
One problem: the federal poverty level for an individual is actually $11,670. So someone making $14,500 is roughly $3,000 above the poverty level. Most couples live in a world where they both have to work, so it is disingenuous to use a single individual’s salary to gauge the financial level of the family.
But if we raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, that same worker will be making $20,200 a year–and with existing tax credits would earn enough to bring that family or a family of four out of poverty. But there’s a lot of good reasons why raising the minimum wage makes sense.
Really? If two people are making the minimum wage working forty hours a week, that would amount to $23,340. And with the eligibility for food stamps for a family of four based on making a gross income less than $2,552 per month, or $30,624 per year, a family with two earners making $23,340 would easily qualify for food stamps.
Biden was just warming up. He continued by using the time-honored Democratic Party technique of citing emotional arguments instead of reason:
Not only would it put more hard-earned money into the pockets of 28 million Americans, moving millions of them out of poverty, it’s also good for business. And let me tell you why. There’s clear data that shows fair wages generate loyalty of workers to their employers, which has the benefit of increasing productivity and leading to less turn over. It’s really good for the economy as a whole because raising the minimum wage would generate an additional $19 billion in additional income for people who need it the most.
Ah. Raising the minimum wage is about engendering loyalty in the workforce. Who knew that was such a strong argument?
It got even better:
The big difference between giving a raise in the minimum wage instead of a tax break to the very wealthy is the minimum wage worker will go out and spend every penny of it because they’re living on the edge. They’ll spend it in the local economy. They need it to pay their electric bill, put gas in their automobile, to buy fundamental necessities. And this generates economic growth in their communities.
So give money to the poor, and make sure to vilify the wealthy, because as everyone knows, it is paying the electric bill that will stimulate the economy, not the rich building businesses and hiring workers.
Biden segued to noting that Costco and the Gap are raising the wages of their employees, but he didn’t mention that Costco CEO and co-founder Jim Sinegal, for example:
…maxed out his personal financial contribution to Obama in 2008 and will host the president Tuesday at his Hunts Point, Wash., home for two high-dollar fundraisers for the 2012 campaign. Sinegal also publicly advocated for Obama’s health care law at the height of debate in 2009.
He also didn’t mention that the Gap seems to be content raising the wages of their American workers because they are saving money in their Bangladesh sweatshops.
Let’s see how many of the 2014 Democratic campaign mantras Biden can hit. He pandered to the young (most minimum wage earners), he targeted the rich (class warfare), there must be a group he missed… of course! The war on women.
And there’s one more important benefit. Right now women make up more than half of the workers who would benefit from increasing the minimum wage. Folks, a low minimum wage is one of the reasons why women in America make only 77 cents on a dollar that every man makes.
That statement is, at least, disingenuous, and possibly at most, an outright lie. As the American Spectator wrote in debunking that myth:
To debunk this myth, we turn to–not a conservative female journalist, a Heritage white paper, or Rand Paul–but none other than Hanna Rosin, the uber-feminist author of The End of Men. Five months ago, Rosin buried that 77 cents–but last night Obama (or his speechwriters) robbed the grave. Rosin wrote: “The official Bureau of Labor Department statistics show that the median earnings of full-time female workers is 77 percent of the median earnings of full-time male workers. But that is very different than “77 cents on the dollar for doing the same work as men. Women congregate in different professions than men do, and the largely male professions tend to be higher-paying. If you account for those differences, and then compare a woman and a man doing the same job, the pay gap narrows to 91 percent. So, you could accurately say in that Obama ad that, “women get paid 91 cents on the dollar for doing the same work as men.”
So ask your representatives who oppose raising the federal minimum wage–why do they oppose it? How can we look at the men and women providing basic services to us all, like cleaning our offices, caring for our children, serving in our restaurants and so many other areas–how can we say they don’t deserve enough pay to take them out of poverty? The President and I think they deserve it. And we think a lot of you do too. So, folks, it’s time to act. It’s time to give America a raise.