Exposing Three of the Biggest Republican Lies About the Minimum Wage

raise-minimum-wageRepublicans are full of a lot of rhetoric and keep up with it as I might, I still have trouble.  After all, there are seemingly endless amounts of delusional thoughts spewing from their mouths and only one of me to keep up with them all.

And while much of what they stand for seems more like a sick joke written for a satire piece rather than an actual political belief, their absolutely ignorant take on our minimum wage is the one that often drives me the most insane.

Now granted, a lot of their ideology is laughable at best, but their propaganda about the minimum wage is as pathetic as it is unfounded.

So I felt like going through three of the ones I hear most often from conservatives and applying what some people might call “logic” (with a little math as well — something Republicans don’t seem very good at) to counter their ridiculous claims.

*For this article, I’m sticking with the federal minimum wage of $7.25.  I’m aware some states have higher minimums.

1) The one I hear the most is that “the minimum wage kills jobs.”  Which I guess is true.  If we cut the minimum wage in half, we could create two jobs for the “price” of one.  That’s “twice” as many jobs, right?

Well, it sure is.  Only—they’ll pay somewhere around $3.63 per hour.

I’m sorry, but if that’s the job our minimum wage is “destroying,” then good riddance.  People can’t get by on $7.25 an hour, let alone less than that.

Just to let you wrap your head around what $7.25 an hour translates into, here are the numbers:

$7.25 x 40 hours per week= $290 per week/$1,257 per month/$15,080 per year—all numbers before taxes.  

They also try and argue that this unfairly makes it harder for younger people to find work as many of them lack any job skills, and for their “level” $7.25 is too high an hourly wage.  Some have even argued for an alternate minimum wage for younger people.

Yes, by all means, let’s start using age as a means at which to discriminate.  Then let’s also falsely assume that all younger people in the workforce (say 16-20) are only working for “party money.”  To say nothing about the older workers who would face a harder task at finding some of these low-skill jobs if employers realized they could pay someone under the age of 20 less than they would have to pay someone who was 21 or older.

I mean, what could possibly go wrong with giving employers a legal way to discriminate based on age?

2) The next ridiculous argument I’ve heard recently from Republicans (with the national fast food strikes happening) is that raising the minimum wage to $11 per hour would create “$11 hamburgers.”

Ah yes, the conservative math skills are on full display.  Why would a 30% increase in the minimum wage cause about a 400% increase in the cost of fast food?  If you adjusted prices by even 40% for the increase in the minimum wage, that $1 cheeseburger is now $1.40.  The $5 value meal is now $7.  Both higher, but nowhere near the ridiculous claims that a slight increase in the minimum wage would suddenly increase prices on some goods by 300-400%.  It’s absurd fear mongering.

And let’s not forget that the more people make, the more they’ll spend.  Being that consumer spending is the real driving force behind our economy and creating jobs (not tax cuts as Republicans want you to believe), consumers with more money to spend means businesses making more money.  And I promise you, consumer spending habits prove that they’ll spend much more than they probably should, which will equalize that “job-killing” hike in minimum wage.

If we focus on creating policies which bring some of the lower-paid Americans up to levels where they had more to spend, that expands the consumer base—which is good for both the worker and the business.  Think of it as “spending money to make money.”

But wait, don’t Republicans claim most jobs pay more than the minimum wage already?  So why would a hike be that big of a deal?

3) Which leads me to #3.  Their claim that there’s no reason to raise the minimum wage because most jobs pay much more than the federal minimum already.

Well, then if that’s the case—great.  Raising the minimum wage should only yield positives, right?  I mean, if businesses pay much more than the federal minimum, a raise in that wage will only impact a small percentage of the workforce anyway.  So what are these businesses whining about?

Or could it be that more Americans earn minimum wage than Republicans want the rest of us to believe?

As I think it was Chris Rock who said, when someone is paying you the minimum wage what they’re saying is they would like to pay you less, they’re just not legally allowed to do so.

Which is the truth.  Millions of Americans are paid the minimum wage, and millions of these people would be paid even less except their employers are legally prevented from doing so.

Besides, do you think if we eliminated the minimum wage, allowing employers to pay workers less would really translate into better prices for consumers?  Prices would continue to go up and that “savings” would simply go into the hands of the executives of the company.

They wouldn’t create more jobs.  Demand creates jobs and a reduction in the minimum wage doesn’t do anything to increase demand.  In fact, it would decrease demand and most likely hurt business.

It would also drive millions more to relying on government programs to survive.

And while Republicans harp on and on about welfare and how many millions of Americans are on government assistance, they fail to address the reality that many of those who rely on the government are working.  They just earn such a crappy wage that even after working full time they don’t make enough to support their families without help.

Imagine if every company that paid its workers minimum wage decided instead to pay those people enough to where they don’t need to rely on government assistance.  How many millions would that save taxpayers?

So while it makes for a great talking point for Republicans to blame “lazy moochers” for relying on the government, millions of Americans are condemned to rely on these programs due to the greed of these big corporations that refuse to pay their workers a decent wage.

But at the end of the day, it’s the lies stemming from Republicans (lies that make absolutely no sense) which keep ignorance about our minimum wage fresh on the minds of right-wing voters.

It’s just a good thing for Republican politicians they’ve conditioned these people to the point that many of them are simply incapable of thinking for themselves.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


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