RNC chairman: Testing me on minimum wage rate is a ‘trap’
Republicans claim to be the party for working class whites, and in fact a new poll says as much today.
But Tuesday the chairman of the Republican National Committee proved that he may not be as in touch with working class Americans as he would like you to think.
In an interview with MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell, RNC Chairman Michael Steele refused to rule out repealing or lowering the minimum wage. When pressed, the chairman couldn’t even cite the rate of pay for the lowest earning Americans.
“What is the minimum wage, Michael?” asked O’Donnell.
“You really like the minimum wage, don’t you?” Steele said with a chuckle.
“It’s okay to say you don’t know. If you don’t care about the minimum wage it’s okay to say you don’t know what it is,” O’Donnell pressed.
“Look, Lawrence, stop the trap playing here,” said Steele.
Connecticut Republican Senate candidate Linda McMahon has recently come under fire not knowing the minimum wage in her state. McMahon was speaking to the National Federation of Independent Businesses, an industry group that opposes increases to the federal minimum wage.
Any increases in the minimum wage ought to take into account “our total economy,” McMahon said.
While conceding that the minimum wage has benefitted a lot of people, McMahon said “we ought to review how much it ought to be and whether or not we ought to have increases in the minimum wage.”
McMahon was asked if she knew what the minimum wage in Connecticut is but said she did not know (it’s $8.25 an hour.)
She was also asked whether any employees at World Wrestling Entertainment, the firm she and her husband built, earned minimum wage. She said perhaps some summer interns did, but, once again, she said she did not know.
Steele wouldn’t say if he agreed with Republican Alaska candidate for Senate Joe Miller who has gone so far as to say the federal government doesn’t have a constitutional right to impose a minimum wage.
The Tea Party-backed candidate has declared a number of federal policies unconstitutional.
The liberal blog Think Progress noted:
There’s only three things Joe Miller likes in a sentence: a noun, a verb, and “unconstitutional.” After previously claiming that Social Security, Medicare, and unemployment benefits violate the Constitution, the Alaska GOP Senate candidate has added a new item to the long list of uncontroversial laws he thinks are unconstitutional — the federal minimum wage.
“We’re working together,” Steele told O’Donnell. “We have a common interest, a common goal to put a fiscal discipline in place. Every candidate comes to the table with their own particular set of issues that they want to speak to the people of their state or their district about. That’s what they’re allowed to do. It doesn’t necessarily translate that that’s the position of every republican in the united states.
“So Michael, do you want to make a Republican Party commitment to minimum wage workers that you absolutely will not consider repealing or reducing the minimum wage?” O’Donnell asked Steele.
“Nice try, Lawrence. I don’t do policy. I do political. You need to talk to our legislative leadership and ask them what their position is going to be on the minimum wage,” Steele replied.
This video is from MSNBC’s The Last Word, broadcast Oct. 5, 2010.