So much for minority outreach

Last month, Sen. Rand Paul headlined the opening of a minority outreach office in Detroit, Michigan on behalf of the GOP.  As part of their post-mortem assessment from the loss of the 2012 Presidential election, there was a consensus that more had to be done to attract minorities to the party.  Seems that Art Laffer didn’t get that message.

In an interview on Fox News Channel, Mr. Laffer said the following:

“The minimum wage makes no sense whatsoever to me,” former Reagan economist Art Laffer told Fox News host Jenna Lee. “Honestly it’s just the teenage — Black Teenage Unemployment Act. And this is the very group that we need to have jobs, not be put out of work because of a minimum wage. So, I’m very much in favor of, at least for teenagers, getting rid of the minimum wage.”

Now, given that Blacks make up 16% of the total population, how can anybody suggest that the minimum wage is the “Black Teenage Unemployment Act”?  I don’t know which is worse, the fact that he stated that with a straight face, or the fact that the Fox News host didn’t call him out for that.  As high as Black teenage unemployment has been recently, there are a lot of them who are NOT getting minimum wage as they are not even earning a wage.

I won’t hold my breath on the Right Wing Outrage Machine cranking up to demand an apology for poking fun at young Black teenagers as that machine did over the MSNBC/Romney grandchild incident.  As a long-term observer of such behavior, I am already aware that these remarks do not require any retraction of sort from Fox News or Laffer himself.  Any attempt by people outside the far-Right world will simply be dismissed as “playing the Race card” by those who will defend such stuff.

In a post this morning called “In this economy, jobless benefits a lifeline”, Jay Bookman hit on the mentality that appears to fuel this particular Fox interview.

“For the past couple of years, Republicans have fought the idea of extended benefits every time the issue has come up, even though we remain in a very difficult time, with job seekers vastly outnumbering job vacancies.

“The GOP theory, if there is one, seems to be perverse twist on demand-side economics: If you make the unemployed miserable enough and threaten them with bankruptcy, foreclosure, eviction, humiliation and maybe even starvation, they will want work even more and then those jobs will magically appear. The mechanism behind the second part of that process remains a total mystery.”

“Think of it as a simple equation: If the economy is producing X number of jobs, but you have X+Y number of people needing jobs, does increasing the desperation of Y somehow increase X?”

I’m not sure if Jay listened to this interview before writing that segment there because it sounds to me as though he heard American Enterprise Institute Resident Scholar Michael Strain and his idea for the long-term unemployed.  Mr Strain thinks the long-term unemployed should be hired at a lower minimum wage than everybody else just because they’ve been out of a job for so long.  From the same video above:

“I certainly agree with Art that we should lower the minimum wage for teenagers, I also think we should lower the minimum wage for the long-term unemployed. You know, right now, if you’re a worker and you apply for a job and you’ve been unemployed for 7 months, the firm may say ‘hey, you know, I wonder if there is something about this person maybe previous firms have seen something that I’m not seeing — I’m not going to hire them.’ And the reason that, well a reason that a firm might feel that way is because the government says that you have to take a $7.25 per hour risk on that worker. So if we lower that down to, say, $4 an hour, then the risk is much less to the firm, firms are going to be more likely to hire these workers. Now, I think if we do that, for workers that are heads of households and that are working full-time, we don’t want them living in poverty, so, if we’re going to lower the minimum wage for those workers then we need to have some sort of a wage subsidy or an expansion of the earned income tax credit or something to make up the difference.”

Seems like one interview has given the young Black community and the long-term unemployed at least one good reason to look to the left for candidates to support.  One dumbass statement doesn’t automatically mean the entire party believes that stuff.  When you don’t hear anyone criticizing it, that does make you wonder if there is complicit agreement going on anyway.

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3 thoughts on “So much for minority outreach

  1. So, I’m very much in favor of, at least for teenagers, getting rid of the minimum wage.

    Looking at this comment seriously (which it probably doesn’t deserve), if you were to do such a thing, I’d think you’d just create a two tier wage system and people would hire only teenagers because, hey, they cost less.

    We already see with servers ($2.13 an hour) what this creates (a basically permanent underpaid class). And I was reading the other day (I forget the exact number) but the percentage of people working in “food service” is quite large, as a percentage of all workers. A lot larger than I thought.


    • If I remember correctly, food service and retail are the two largest industries in regards to numbers of workers. I found this while searching for that information. It’s from 2010.

      1 Retail Salespersons: 4,261,600
      2 Cashiers: 3,362,600
      3 Office Clerks, General: 2,950,700
      4 Registered Nurses: 2,737,400
      5 Combined Food Preparation and Serving Workers, Including Fast Food: 2,682,100
      6 Janitors and Cleaners, Except Maids and Housekeeping Cleaners: 2,310,400
      7 Waiters and Waitresses: 2,260,300
      8 Customer Service Representatives: 2,187,300
      9 Laborers and Freight, Stock, and Material Movers, Hand: 2,068,200
      10 Secretaries and Administrative Assistants, Except Legal, Medical, and Executive: 2,032,200

      Of all those, the Registered Nurse occupation is the only one that has a median yearly salary over $35,000 based on that site.


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