Missouri Democrats are pouncing on a moment from Friday’s radio debate between the three Republican candidates for Senate, who are seeking to oppose vulnerable Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill. None of them could correctly answer a question about the minimum wage: Namely, what is the current minimum wage?
The correct answer is $7.25 per hour, though local CBS radio host Charlie Brennan did not provide that number until after all the candidates had responded.
They were, however, all able to answer the other part of the question — whether they would increase it — with a firm no.
Here is the in-studio video, featuring Brennan in a rather striking novelty fireman’s hat:
Businessman John Brunner explained that at his beauty-care products company, with which he has not been actively involved since 2009, they always paid their employees more than the minimum wage anyway. He was against raising it, however, on the grounds that it would place a further burden on smaller businesses.
On further questioning by Brennan, Brunner did admit that he could not name the current level, with a straightforward “No, sir.”
Former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman said that the minimum wage is $7.50 per hour, 25 cents higher than the correct answer but kind of in the neighborhood.
She said the wage is “high enough as it is,” and that a higher wage can have the unintended consequence of creating a barrier to young people entering the labor market.
Rep. Todd Akin took the strongest line against the minimum wage itself as a concept: “I don’t think the government should be setting the prices or wages on different things. I don’t think that’s the function of the government. We have a government that whenever any government says we have to spend this much for this product or that product or you’ve got to pay this wage or whatever, that’s basically government control of the marketplace. It always its destructive and disruptive.”
He also went into further detail on the economic case, that it can create a barrier to young, untrained workers trying to enter the labor force.
Brennan then asked again, what the minimum wage level itself is. Akin replied: “My guess is its somewhere in the 6 or 7, but I don’t know the exact number right now.”