On Wednesday’s edition of CNN’s Crossfire, former Clinton administration Secretary of Labor Robert Reich (a real economist) got into a lively debate with conservative host S.E. Cupp (not a real economist). Cupp, whose credentials in economics include having a degree in Art History and being a guest on Fox’s Hannity, attacked Reich’s assertion that raising wages and supporting unions would boost the economy.
“You would suggest that we force employers to raise wages, force union participation, raise taxes on the top job creators, and force employers to cut off hiring at 50 employees to avoid Obamacare mandates,” Cupp put to Reich. “How is that a job recipe for job creation?”
Reich, ever the gentleman, responded to Cupp calmly, but with facts:
“We’ve had a minimum wage in this country since 1935. Raising the minimum wage is good for the country – it puts more money in the pockets of people,” he said.
“Sixty-five percent of Americans want to raise the minimum wage. Most minimum-wage workers these days are not teenagers, they are breadwinners; if you help them, you are helping the economy overall. And a lot of employers will benefit from a higher minimum wage – that’s what we know, and powerful studies show that. So this is not a matter of government planning, this is doing what we have done… in fact if we had a minimum wage today that was as high in 1968 – adjusted for inflation – it would be $10.40 an hour. And if you add in productivity improvements the minimum wage would actually be $15.00 an hour.”
The fact that we’re still having this debate in America is completely ridiculous. Cupp’s recommendations for growing the economy are the exact measures that smashed the economy into the ground and made America the most unequal country in the industrialized world. George W. Bush presided over an unprecedented period of privatization, corporate tax slashing and union demonization, all of which left the economy in tatters.
The philosophy that supports giving rich people tax cuts to provide more jobs is provably false. They just make rich people richer.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.