NBC's Russert: Do Republicans 'Risk Looking Like Grinches' by Opposing Minimum Wage Hike?

Filling in for host Chuck Todd on Thursday's MSNBC Daily Rundown, Luke Russert suggested liberal calls for a hike in the minimum wage had created a "tough issue for Republicans" and that by opposing the idea, the GOP would "risk looking like Grinches over the holiday season." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]

Republican pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson pushed back: "In a way, but remember, who was president last time a minimum wage increase was signed into law? It was President Bush. And the way they got their was by saying, 'You need to have some tax cuts for small businesses embedded in this law in order to get it through because there are going to be some businesses that if these cuts aren't included are gonna switch to not hiring these folks.'"

The beginning of the segment featured a sound bite of Republican Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz arguing that demands by fast food workers to increase the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $15 an hour would prevent hiring of younger employees. Russert turned to Democratic consultant Angela Rye, who literally laughed off the common sense argument: "I think my initial reaction was the right one. It hardly passes the laugh test. If you have a demand for services, a demand for goods, there are always going to be a need for hires."

In response, Anderson pointed out: "...automation and technology is offering a lot of employers the opportunity to go, 'You know, it made sense to hire someone at $7.25 an hour, but at $15 an hour, I'm gonna switch to something else.' So there is a real threat that many of these low-wage jobs, at a certain price point, it's just not worth hiring a person to do them."


Here is a transcript of the December 5 exchange:

9:41AM ET

LUKE RUSSERT: I'm joined by our Thursday Gaggle. Politico's senior Washington correspondent Anna Palmer, Democratic consultant and former executive director of the congressional black caucus Angela Rye, and Republican pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson. Thank you all so much for joining me.

I want to play a clip by Jason Chaffetz, a Republican from Utah, and what he said about this issue.

REP. JASON CHAFFETZ [R-UT]: I learned how to work, I learned the value of a dollar. And every time the President decides that he wants to just raise the minimum wage, you're gonna take this whole group of youth and prevent them from getting an opportunity. Because employers are gonna look at that and say, "If it's going to cost more for labor, I'm going to hire less people."

RUSSERT: Where do you stand on that, Angela?

[RYE LAUGHS]

RUSSERT: Do you feel that this – that could in fact disenfranchise youth by sort of saying, "We're gonna hire less people because it costs more to keep them"?

ANGELA RYE: I think my initial reaction was the right one. It hardly passes the laugh test. If you have a demand for services, a demand for goods, there are always going to be a need for hires. This is not about just a minimum wage and greedy people wanting more money, this is about people being able to make a living. There are communities all throughout this country, regardless of race, regardless of age or gender, that say "Hey, I want to be able to work hard and see it pay off." And they don't see where hard work pays off. So what do you expect?

RUSSERT: Kristen, is this a tough issue for Republicans? Obviously income inequality is at the forefront of a lot of folks minds these days. And do they risk looking like Grinches over the holiday season? They come out and sort of say, "Hey, you know what? We can't do this, it'll hurt businesses." And, you know, Chaffetz has an interesting line there, saying, "It'll hurt young people's ability to work." But this is sort a thorny issue, is it not?

KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON: In a way, but remember, who was president last time a minimum wage increase was signed into law? It was President Bush. And the way they got their was by saying, "You need to have some tax cuts for small businesses embedded in this law in order to get it through because there are going to be some businesses that if these cuts aren't included are gonna switch to not hiring these folks."

I mean, when you walk into the grocery store or a CVS nowadays, you can go to the self check-out line. If walk into a Sheets gas station you can go to a computer and enter what your order is. I mean, automation and technology is offering a lot of employers the opportunity to go, "You know, it made sense to hire someone at $7.25 an hour, but at $15 an hour, I'm gonna switch to something else." So there is a real threat that many of these low-wage jobs, at a certain price point, it's just not worth hiring a person to do them.

(...)

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC