U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez reportedly has an economics degree from Boston University. One wonders when BU may start asking her to stop advertising that fact.
In recent comments, the socialist Democrat from New York has argued for a minimum wage exceeding $20 an hour. But she also glosses over facts that undercut the idea that the minimum wage, now $7.25 an hour, should be lifted to $15, as President Joe Biden and Democratic leaders seem prepared to do.
In an interview with MSNBC on Sunday, AOC declared moderate Democrats lucky that her side wasn’t pushing for more.
People are sleeping in their cars, they can’t afford baby formula, there are basic goods that people can’t afford,” given the current federal minimum wage, AOC said.
“It is deeply deeply shameful that we are even having this conversation,” she continued.
“Because when you take the minimum wage from several decades ago and you actually account for inflation and productivity gains to today, it should really be $24 an hour.”
“So we need other Democrats to understand how deep of a compromise $15 an hour is,” she said.
“In almost every pocket of this country, you cannot afford rent if you are making minimum wage. And in America, if you are working a full-time job, you should be able to afford to live.”
According to The Blaze, the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a liberal economics think tank, released a study that showed the minimum wage would be $24 an hour if it had increased along with workforce productivity gains, as it did between 1938 to 1968.
The website USAFacts.org notes that, per U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, 1.6 million of the 82 million hourly earners in 2019, or 1.9 percent, made the federal minimum wage or less.
But measured against the total workforce, that ratio drops by half, meaning 1 percent of all American workers make at or below the floor set by the federal government.
USAFacts.org pointed out, “In 1980 when the federal minimum wage was $3.10 ($9.86 in 2019 dollars), 13% of hourly workers earned the federal minimum wage or less. Today, only 1.9% of hourly workers do. The number of federal minimum wage workers has decreased from 7.7 million in 1980 to 1.6 million in 2019. This is partly due to states establishing higher minimum wages than the federal level.”
Overall, 29 states and Washington, D.C., have done that.
The BLS further notes that most workers making the federal minimum wage tend to be under 25, not college-educated, single, and working part-time. In other words, not very many heads of households in that group.
Most often, USAFacts.org says, these workers tend to toil in the foodservice industry; in “personal care” jobs like manicurists, hairdressers, and cosmetologists; in sales or in building or grounds maintenance.
AOC, of course, did not discuss how many kids working at McDonald’s would be suddenly unemployed if one worker were suddenly making the wages of three, as she suggests.
The Democrats’ push for $15 an hour seems to be doomed by the Senate parliamentarian, who makes the rules for debate. That official has said the Senate cannot put the measure into the same process to be used for the massive $1.9 trillion coronavirus bill.
AOC continued on Tuesday, with a tweet, “It is utterly embarrassing that ‘pay people enough to live’ is a stance that’s even up for debate.”
“Override the parliamentarian and raise the wage,” she added. “McD’s workers in Denmark are paid $22/hr + 6 wks paid vacation. $15/hr is a deep compromise – a big one, considering the phase-in.”
Conservative pundit and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza, for one, replied to AOC: “Denmark, like most Scandinavian countries, does not have a minimum wage. It is utterly embarrassing you don’t seem to know that.”
AOC also left out the taxes involved.
According to various economic analysts, Denmark’s top personal income tax rate is 56 percent, which includes local and national taxes. But it kicks in for people who make more than $88,000 a year. The closest U.S. comparison would be a resident of San Francisco, who would dole out a maximum personal income tax rate of 52 percent, but that would only take effect for those who earn $518,000 a year or more.