Thursday, November 12, 2015

Republicans Talked Business At The Business Debate On Fox's Business Channel


Yesterday we looked at how the Republican presidential contenders dealt with the issue of immigration in their latest debate. The other two big take-aways from the debate were in regard to the minimum wage and to health care/insurance. It's a shame the intimidated/on best behavior and biased Fox anchors didn't have what it takes to draw out of the candidates their philosophical approaches to the entire concept of a minimum wage and to social insurance policies like Medicare and Social Security. [Perhaps someone could have had noted Ayn Rand scholar, Paul Ryan, who was in the audience, stand up and state the official-- if publicly downplayed-- Republican Party position.] Still a lot of what the candidates did have to say gave us a glimpse at the reactionary 19th Century dystopic vision of society most of them share.

The first question came from Neil Cavuto: "As as we gather tonight, just outside, and across the country, picketers are gathering as well. They’re demanding an immediate hike in the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Just a few hours ago, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed doing the same for all state workers, the first governor to do so... Are you sympathetic to the protesters' caused? Hereditary billionaire-- who claims his pappy only gave him a measly million dollars to start-- stated that he's not sympathetic and that American workers already earn too much money. No, he really said that. Listen:

Then-- boom, as if the moderators needed something for PolitiFact to do-- they turned right to Dr. Ben for the night's first big tall-tale, which he was happy to provide: "Every time we raise the minimum wage, the number of jobless people increases." This is a standard-- and ancient-- right-wing trope that has long ago been proven false but that is endlessly repeated on Hate Talk Radio and Fox News. PolitiFact was quick to respond:

[J]oblessness rose after a minimum-wage hike more than half the time-- seven out of 11 occasions-- but fell four times. Since joblessness fell some of the time, it means that Carson’s sweeping claim-- that joblessness rises "every time" the minimum wage goes up is off-base.

But there’s another factor that casts additional doubt on his assertion.

As it happened, there was a recession under way during six of the 11 periods we studied. During each of those periods, joblessness rose after the minimum wage went up. This is not surprising-- but it does cast into doubt the cause and effect behind the rise in joblessness. The impact of a recession does, at the very least, raise questions about whether a minimum wage hike in and of itself caused joblessness.

If you look instead at the five wage hikes that occurred when a recovery was under way, joblessness declined four of those times. The only exception was the 1991 wage hike, which took effect soon after a recovery began.

Finally, we should note that economists are split over what effect a minimum wage hike has on job growth. There’s some research that shows raising the minimum wage negatively impacts job growth, and a lot that shows it has an insignificant effect.

Our ruling

Carson said, "Every time we raise the minimum wage, the number of jobless people increases."

If you look at the 12-month period following every minimum-wage hike since 1978, joblessness did rise on seven occasions, but it fell on four occasions, undercutting his sweeping claim. In addition, it’s not at all clear that a minimum-wage hike was the primary culprit for the periods in which joblessness rose, since those periods also coincided with broader recessions in the economy.

We rate his claim False.

It's also worth mentioning that even Carson himself appears to be conflicted over raising the minimum wage. In May, he recorded an interview with NBC's John Harwood during which he said the minimum wage "probably" should be raised. And then there was Florida's AWOL junior senator, Marco Rubio, the tap dancer. He told the audience that if he "thought that raising the minimum wage was the best way to help people increase their pay, I would be all for it, but it isn’t. In the 21st century, it’s a disaster." Using an argument that's been around as long as the first proposals for a minimum wage, the young reactionary claimed that "If you raise the minimum wage, you're going to make people more expensive than machines. That means all the automation that is replacing jobs and people right now will be accelerated."

Poor Jeb, now a third tier candidate, kept quiet on this one, but back in March told South Carolina Republicans that he thought the minimum wage should be left to the states and not the federal government. He used the same scare tactics about automation that Rubio used.

Fiorina got the ball rolling by by calling for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, something all of the Republicans say they agree with, which amounts to cutting off access to quality affordable health care for something like 18 million Americans, as well as denying health insurance coverage for preexisting conditions and for preventive care services. Fiorina, universally considered one of the worst failures as a CEO in business history, insisted that Obamacare is a failure. One of the worst of the GOP liars, she may be a flawed spokesperson but last night she was just another loud voice braying the same message-- for which PolitiFact didn't just give her a False grade but yet another Pants on Fire. The truth of the matter, of course, is contrary to what Firoina and her tribe had to say. The Affordable Care Act has made health care more accessible-- the country's uninsured rate has fallen below 10% for the first time since the early 1970s-- and has lowered the uninsured rate, while drastically reducing the rate of increase in health care spending, even with concerted sabotage from Republican governors and legislatures in many states. So listen to some trademarked Fiorina Menacity:

Although I'm not sure how she's trying to differentiate between "drugs companies" and "pharmaceutical companies," one is expected to walk away persuaded that the pharmaceutical and insurance companies are paying off the Democrats. She's partially correct. Both industries give a good deal of money to Democrats, overwhelmingly corrupt, conservative Democrats-- New Dems and Blue Dogs primarily-- from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party. But neither industry gives nearly as much to the Democrats as they give to their Republican Party handmaidens. These charts just represent legal bribes Pharma and Insurance have given to congressional Republicans and congressional Democrats. First the charts that show what has been given since 1990 and then the charts that show what has been given just this election cycle so far:

Also worth mentioning-- neither the Insurance Industry nor the Pharmaceutical Industry are among the top 10 contributors to Hillary's campaign or to Bernie's campaign or to Martin O'Malley's campaign. Different story among Republicans. The Insurance Industry is the 14th biggest source of contributions for Jeb, 15th for Cruz, 9th for Carson, 17th for Rubio, 13th for Rand Paul, 7th for Huckabee, 12th for Trump, 12th for Kasich, 12th for Santorum and 15th for Fiorina herself. When she ran her disastrous 2010 Senate campaign she took $250,264 from the insurance company, her 11th biggest source of contributions. The biggest recipient of Insurance contributions so far this cycle has been John Boehner (R-OH) with $301,300/$2,455,364 since 1990 and the biggest recipient of pharmaceutical industry contributions so far this cycle has been Richard Burr (R-NC) with $168,432/$1,254,013 since 1990, a member of the Finance Committee's subcommittee on Health Care and a member of the Health Committee's subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging, two positions from which he works to implement the pharmaceutical industry's agenda.

State Senators Mike Noland (D-IL) and Ruben Kihuen (D-NV) are two of the most accomplished progressives in their state's legislatures. To put it mildly, they don't view these issues in the same way the Republicans do. Ruben is running for the seat currently held by anti-minimum wage Republican, Cresent Hardy. Take a look at the video he sent us today, just above. Mike is running for an open, blue-leaning congressional seat west of Chicago now, the one Tammy Duckworth is giving up, and his interests have always revolved around supporting the legitimate interests of the area's working families. After Tuesday's debate he told us that "While our economy improves, income inequality in America continues to worsen. Real wages, and so the average household income of average Americans, continues to decline. The best way to bridge the gap between rich and poor in America is by increasing pay for low-wage workers. Creating a stronger minimum wage will increase consumer spending mostly to the benefit of local small businesses, the backbone of our economy. Moreover, we should index the minimum wage to inflation, so that real wages, and so America’s buying power, does not continue to fall in real value every year. This will help stabilize both earning and spending and so our overall economy. In the end, raising the minimum wage is good for our national and state economies, local businesses and, most importantly, working families. It is an essential component of any rational plan for continued economic recovery in the United States. I support it." We need more men and women with Mike's and Ruben's perspective in Congress. If you'd like to help their grassroots campaigns, you can do that right here, while you watch the Cruz/Fiorina team do their crazy, ugly little dance.

2016 Republican ticket

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