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Tilting at Windmills

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October 1, 2010

MCMAHON'S MILLIONS AND THE MINIMUMS FOR THE MASSES.... A scandalous multi-millionaire can buy a primary win, and even run enough ads to position herself to buy a Senate seat, but it's tough to put a price on sound judgment and policy smarts. Connecticut's Linda McMahon was reminded of this yesterday.

Republican Linda McMahon accepted the endorsement of a prominent business interest lobby on Thursday, but her campaign staff abruptly shut down a press conference in which McMahon was asked to explain whether she agreed with all of the organization's positions.

Most notably, McMahon said she believed Congress should consider lowering the federal minimum wage in times of economic distress for small businesses, such as the current recession.

"The minimum wage now in our country, I think we've set that and a lot of people have benefited from it in our country, but I think we ought to review how much it ought to be, and whether or not we ought to have increases in the minimum wage," McMahon said.

McMahon, who made her fortune running a scandal-plagued wrestling company, added that she had no idea what the federal or state minimum wage currently is. (Connecticut's minimum wage is $8.25 an hour, while the federal wage is $7.25 an hour.)

While McMahon camp later denied the candidate supports lowering the minimum wage, the facts proved hard to spin. She was asked about a reduction to the rate, and McMahon said, "We should always review the policy that is put in place.... I think we ought to look at all of those issues in terms of what mandates are being placed on businesses and can they afford them? ... We should listen to our small business operators, and we should hear what it is they have to say and how it's impacting their businesses and make some of those decisions."

"Review," the Republican campaign said, doesn't necessarily mean "reduce." But in context, is there any doubt about McMahon's position on this? During a struggling economy, the far-right Senate hopeful clearly buys into the notion that the minimum wage may hurt businesses. Why else would she want to "review" it?

As a policy matter, McMahon clearly doesn't know what she's talking about. As a political matter, she hasn't done her campaign any favors

With a lower minimum wage, "You'd have even more people who were poor even though they were working than you already do," said Elizabeth Lower-Basch, a policy analyst with the Center for Law and Social Policy in Washington, D.C. "In this economy, you'd have some people who were desperate enough to take the jobs -- at least in the short run. Others wouldn't be able to take them because they can't afford to -- after paying for child care and transportation, they'd be losing money. Overall, it probably wouldn't have much of an effect on the economy as a whole. The minimum wage in the US is still sufficiently low that it only affects a small portion of the labor market."

McMahon's opponent jumped on the remarks: "Linda McMahon laid off ten percent of her workers and takes home $46 million a year so it's no surprise she's thinking about lowering the minimum wage," said a spokeswoman for Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal (D).

John Olsen, president of the AFL-CIO in Connecticut, also jumped on the remarks: "It is outrageous that multi-millionaire McMahon is open to reducing the minimum wage, and mind boggling that she doesn't even know how much it is."


Steve Benen 8:40 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (18)

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So many GOP joke candidates, with so much money, yet so little outrage that one of this nation's two major political parties has become a freak show. How low can you go? I'm afraid we'll find out only after it's too late.

Posted by: walt on October 1, 2010 at 8:45 AM | PERMALINK

Viewing the polls, and contemplating who the winners could be, I am reminded of the Chinese proverb, "May you live in interesting times. . ."

Posted by: DAY on October 1, 2010 at 8:54 AM | PERMALINK

We should listen to our small business operators, and we should hear what it is they have to say and how it's impacting their businesses and make some of those decisions."

So we should "review" government mandates on just "small" businesses. Funny, I thought the idea of a government picking winners and losers was abhorrent to republicans.

Posted by: Oh my on October 1, 2010 at 9:10 AM | PERMALINK

Oh please tell me that someone has this recorded. Because a campaign ad that plays this exchange:

When reporters asked McMahon to clarify whether she would support reducing the wage, which is currently $7.25 per hour, the candidate replied, "We should always review the policy that is put in place."

"I think we ought to look at all of those issues in terms of what mandates are being placed on businesses and can they afford them?"

With a voice over that points out this:

"Linda McMahon laid off ten percent of her workers and takes home $46 million a year so it's no surprise she's thinking about lowering the minimum wage,"

Would be a good one. If there was actually a recording of her admitting to this:

McMahon, who made her fortune running a scandal-plagued wrestling company, added that she had no idea what the federal or state minimum wage currently is.

That would be icing on the cake. Out of touch billionaires should at least be able to do the basic research before they hit the campaign trail. Campaigns have flamed out for far, far less.

Posted by: NonyNony on October 1, 2010 at 9:19 AM | PERMALINK

Another day another Jim Carrol lyric

It's Too Late

McMahon is head and shoulders above Rand and the burgeoning lunatic fringe . How about them apples .

Posted by: FRP on October 1, 2010 at 9:20 AM | PERMALINK

I've got four lay-about grand kids who just sit around playing games and asking stupid questions. Perhaps we could "review" the child labor laws? Someone has to say it.

Posted by: pokeybob on October 1, 2010 at 9:23 AM | PERMALINK

And since the exact scope of what's we're talking about here might be escaping a lot of the population - any ad talking about the minimum wage should explicitly point out that a full-time employee who is paid the federal minimum wage will be paid about $15,000 a year. And that's only if he works a full week every week with no time off. A Connecticut worker will be paid about $17,000 a year.

Contrast that with Ms. McMahon's $46 million per year salary. Include all of the zeroes in both numbers for full impact.

Posted by: NonyNony on October 1, 2010 at 9:26 AM | PERMALINK

In viewing real estate taxes for Linda McMahon, her bill was $71230.40 for 2009. How many minimum wage workers will it take to earn that much? Inquiring minds want to know. Just type McMahon in the name and click search.

https://greenwichct.munisselfservice.com/citizens/RealEstate/Default.aspx?mode=new

Posted by: flyonthewall on October 1, 2010 at 9:30 AM | PERMALINK

The scary thing about Linda McMahon is that WWE fans probably aren't the brightest of the bunch and will swarm to the pols just to vote for her. I'm worried about that in what may be a low voter turnout.

I also wonder what her husband wants or stands to gain if she's elected. I think that's what's really behind her run for the Senate.

Posted by: SaintZak on October 1, 2010 at 10:05 AM | PERMALINK

Review doesn't mean reduce. It doesn't.

Look, I don't think that McMahon gives a crap about minimum-wage earners. Few Republicans do. And I'm willing to assume that any given Republican would happily vote to reduce the minimum wage if given the chance.

But you can't just put words into people's mouths.

Posted by: square1 on October 1, 2010 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

@square1
Review doesn't mean reduce. It doesn't.

That's pretty naive.

"Review", in this context, does mean reduce. It's her way of saying it without saying it.

Her rich corporate friends understand review to mean reduce.

For her ignorant WWE fans who might hear the statement in the promo before scores and highlights it's benign.

Posted by: Winkandanod on October 1, 2010 at 10:32 AM | PERMALINK

Review doesn't mean reduce. It doesn't.

"When reporters asked McMahon to clarify whether she would support reducing the wage, which is currently $7.25 per hour, the candidate replied, "We should always review the policy that is put in place.""

She was asked specifically about "reducing the wage" when suggesting "review". Why would a legislator want to "review the policy" when specifically asked about "reducing the wage"? You can't spin it any other way.

Posted by: flyonthewall on October 1, 2010 at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK

flyonthewall:

You are only interpreting it that way because you already -- justifiably, I don't argue -- believed that was her position. That is not an interpretation that you would make if you honestly didn't have a pre-existing belief about McMahon's views.

Let's imagine, early last year, that Obama had been asked whether he was planning to reduce troops in Afghanistan. And let's say that his response was "I plan to conduct a comprehensive review of our existing policy in Afghanistan with regard to troop levels."

I would have argued that it would be grossly unfair to assume -- from that statement alone -- that an intention to review troop levels in response to a question of whether he would reduce them should be construed as an implicit endorsement of troop reductions.

Posted by: square1 on October 1, 2010 at 11:24 AM | PERMALINK

@square1-You are comparing apples to oranges. Historically speaking wages have increased and troop levels vary depending on circumstances and have historically decreased over time. If a business can't survive paying minimum wage, they deserve to go out of business.

BLS data suggests we are talking about a very small % of minimum wage earners. We're not talking about large swaths of the working population and traditionally we are talking about teens to 25 years old. Here is the most recent data.

http://www.bls.gov/cps/minwage2008.htm

Posted by: flyonthewall on October 1, 2010 at 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

What are you talking about? I am not debating the merits of minimum wages.

I'm talking about whether, if someone is asked whether they support Policy X, and they respond that they think that Policy X should be "reviewed", whether that is inherently a nod and a wink endorsement of Policy X. My position is that it is not. It isn't for Obama and it isn't for McMahon.

What BLS data has to do with any of this is beyond me.

Posted by: square1 on October 1, 2010 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

Did anyone not know that she is a member of the Cheap Labor Republicans?

Posted by: thebewilderness on October 1, 2010 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

@square1_Who said anything about an "endorsement"? She categorically stated she would be open to reducing the wage if business could not afford to pay it. That is what she has "endorsed" loud and clear.

The BLS data shows there are a small % of workers earning minimum wage, therefore reducing that wage will not save that many "small businesses"(wink, wink-code words) who can't afford it. Even Micky Dee's pays more than minimum and even offers health insurance. Once again, if a business can't afford minimum they deserve to go out of business. And since CT has a higher wage, she shouldn't even have offered her thoughts. She simply should have said no I do not support any reduction because I can't vote in the CT legislature to reduce our states minimum wage and she didn't even know what it was.

Posted by: flyonthewall on October 1, 2010 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

Does anyone really believe that Linda McMahon runs anything? Isn't it the old story--give the owner's wife an office and some people to yell at to shut her up?

Can anyone point to anything she's actually done, aside from saying okay to the VP's who actually do the work?

Posted by: Steve Paradis on October 1, 2010 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK
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