2021-02-26 09:29:19

Republican Opposes $15 Min Wage Because He Earned $6/Hour 40 Years Ago

Senator John Thune, Republican of South Dakota, went on Twitter and made a self-defeating argument against raising the minimum wage. This is a topic that has been getting a great deal of attention lately since a provision in the current iteration of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 would bump up the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $15 an hour. Thune tweeted, “I started working by bussing tables at the Star Family Restaurant for $1/hour & slowly moved up to cook – the big leagues for a kid like me– to earn $6/hour. Businesses in small towns survive on narrow margins. Mandating a $15 minimum wage would put many of them out of business.”

John Thune is forgetting about something called “inflation.” The costs of goods and services have gone up significantly since Thune worked that kitchen job in the late 1970s. That six-dollar-an-hour wage forty years ago would be more like $21.62 per hour today. This does not even factor in a hypothetical productivity-adjusted minimum wage or a cost-of-living-adjusted minimum wage that would make that number even higher. There are really only two explanations for Thune’s Twitter post and neither one of them are good: Either Thune wasn’t aware of this inflation argument and our elected officials don’t understand the most basic of economic principles. Or, the senator knows that his example is bunk but he believes it will trick enough of his constituents so that he can continue to serve business interests at the expense of low-income workers.

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