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California Senate candidates spar over Dem’s proposal for $50 minimum wage: ‘Do the math’

california-senate-candidates-spar-over-dem’s-proposal-for-$50-minimum-wage:-‘do-the-math’
California Senate candidates spar over Dem’s proposal for $50 minimum wage: ‘Do the math’

A Monday night debate in California between several candidates vying for an open Senate seat included a question about raising the minimum wage to $50, an idea that one Democrat candidate has floated.

“In the Bay Area, I believe it was the United Way that came out with a report that very recently $127,000 for a family of four is just barely enough to get by,” Democrat Congresswoman Barbara Lee said when asked to defend her previous support of a $50 minimum wage and explain how it would be “sustainable.”

“Another survey very recently, $104,000; for a family of one, barely enough to get by, low income because of the affordability crisis.”

Lee has previously called for a $50 minimum wage, which would amount to around $104,000 per year of income. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour and ranges from $16 to $20 in California.

“Just do the math. Of course, we have national minimum wages that we need to raise to a living wage,” Lee continued. “We’re talking about $20, $25 — fine. But I have got to be focused on what California needs and what the affordability factor is when we calculate this wage.”

Former baseball star Steve Garvey, the only Republican on the stage, told the moderators that the minimum wage “is where it is and should be.”

(L-R) Rep. Barbara Lee, Senate candidate Steve Garvey, Rep. Adam Schiff, Rep. Katie Porter during Monday nights debate.

(L-R) Rep. Barbara Lee, Senate candidate Steve Garvey, Rep. Adam Schiff, and Rep. Katie Porter during Monday night’s debate. KTLA

“If you look at what California has done to fast-food franchises right now, increasing the minimum wage to $20, and what’s going to happen,” Garvey said. “That’s going to increase costs for hardworking Californians to go to a franchise to get a Big Mac for $9, it’s going to be $15.”

Democrat Rep. Adam Schiff took issue with Garvey’s statement and said that so many people are living on the street because they are being paid “poverty wages.”

“Try to find a house anywhere in California when you’re earning minimum wage,” Schiff told Garvey. “We have to raise people’s incomes.”

Rep. Barbara Lee

Lee has previously called for a $50 minimum wage, which would amount to around $104,000 per year of income. KTLA

Schiff and fellow Democrat candidate Katie Porter have floated support for minimum wages ranging from $20 to $25 per hour.

California passed legislation last fall that will require a $20 per hour minimum wage at all restaurants with at least 60 locations nationwide, though the law includes an exception for restaurants that make and sell their own bread.

Several major fast-food franchises, including McDonald’s and Chipotle, have already signaled that prices will have to rise in response to the increased labor costs.

California Senate candidate Steve Garvey

Former baseball star Steve Garvey, the only Republican on the stage, told the moderators that the minimum wage “is where it is and should be.” KTLA

As businesses consider passing costs on to consumers, Fat Brands Chair Andy Wiederhorn recently said that “someone’s got to pay” for the jump in wages.

“The consumers who are voters must have known what they were getting into by promoting this legislation to raise the minimum wage from $15 to $20 and on its way to $25,” Wiederhorn told Fox Business this month.

“Everyone wants their employees to make more money, but it just costs. And someone’s got to pay for it. And the restaurant operators don’t have the margin for that. So, prices are going to go up.”

A 2021 Harvard Business Review study found that raising the minimum wage actually leads to lower compensation for employees.

In addition to companies being forced to raise prices, many economists have also warned that companies will be forced to cut jobs, which often ends up disproportionately hurting low-wage income earners, the very group supporters of raising the minimum wage are aiming to help.

“Apologists for the minimum wage routinely claim that increasing it will help low-income workers and have no negative effects,” E.J. Antoni, a research fellow in regional economics with the Heritage Foundation’s Center for Data Analysis, told FOX Business about raising the minimum wage last year.

“They often cite corporate greed as the only reason for relatively low wages in places like the fast-food industry. In reality, raising the minimum wage reduces employment and causes the higher cost of labor to be passed on to customers. Because low-income workers disproportionately buy fast food (like McDonald’s), they disproportionately bear the cost of not only the more expensive labor but also the lower employment levels.”

Antoni continued, “That fact exposes the reality that the true minimum wage is, and always has been, zero. For the worker that loses his or her job because of a higher minimum wage, they now have no income and higher food prices.”

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