Liberals have become obsessed with raising the mandated minimum wage, the better to divert attention from the minimal competence of the Obama administration.
Appearing yesterday on Ed Schultz's radio show, Ruth Conniff, political editor of the Progressive magazine, apparently forgot that her remarks would be broadcast over the airwaves when the two were discussing the left's most recent flailing attempt to change the subject. (Audio after the jump)
Here's what was said (audio) --
SCHULTZ: (Paul) Ryan saying that the president is an increasingly lawless presidency (sic). You think that this is all about him, right? (Threadbare Schultz trope applied to every Republican).
CONNIFF: I do, and I think it's a play to the base and it's ridiculous because they're talking about Obama's executive orders which are actually, you know, modest and few. (laughs) You know, despite the fact that he made this winning pitch to the American public that he's going to go around Congress when he gave his State of the Union address and said he's going to do what he can for the American people because the Congress is perceived as being so obstructionist, the truth is Obama has had fewer executive orders than any recent president and the executive orders he's proposing are actually not that big. He's going to increase the minimum wage for federal contract workers, but that's just a handful of people, really, in the whole economy.
Psst, Ms. Conniff, Obama isn't "proposing" any executive orders, he's imposing them. Not quite the same thing.
It came as a shock for me to learn that workers paid the minimum wage comprise a barely discernible slice of the overall economy -- all of 1 percent, according to Sean Davis at the Federalist in an outstanding post titled "11 Facts About the Minimum Wage That President Obama Forgot to Mention." Here's the first reason cited by Davis --
Despite the hoopla surrounding the issue, only a tiny percentage of American workers actually earn the federal hourly minimum wage: 1 percent, to be exact. In 2012, the most recent year for which nationwide minimum wage data is available from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), roughly 1.5 million hourly workers were paid the federal minimum wage of $7.25. To put that into perspective, the U.S. labor force consisted of nearly 155 million workers in 2012.
That figure of 1.5 million workers receiving minimum wage pertains to the entire workforce -- with those employed as contract workers for the federal government making up a fraction within it. Put another way, the percentage of federal workers paid the minimum wage is a fraction of 1 percent. Or to borrow from the jargon of economists, just a handful.
The final reason cited by Davis is what I consider the actual underlying reason for Obama's "proposed" executive order -- it will trigger higher union wages and renegotiated benefits. Davis points to a 2013 Wall Street Journal op-ed by union analyst Richard Berman, who wrote this --
The labor contracts that we examined used a variety of methods to trigger the [wage] increases. The two most popular formulas were setting baseline union wages as a percentage above the state or federal minimum wage or mandating a flat wage premium above the minimum wage. Other union contracts stipulate that, following a minimum-wage increase, the union and the employer reopen wage talks.
Minimum-wage hikes are beneficial to unions in other ways. The increases restrict the ability of businesses to hire low-skill workers who might gladly work for lower wages in order to gain experience. Union members thus face less competition from workers who might threaten union jobs.
It's undoubtedly too much to expect any liberal to reveal, inadvertently or otherwise, the actual minimum wage. As anyone unemployed is keenly aware, it's zero.