Host Charlie Brennan asked the three candidates — businessman John Brunner, former State Treasurer Sarah Steelman, and Rep. Todd Akin — “What is the federal minimum wage? Would you vote to increase it?” Here are their responses to the first question:
BRENNAN: Okay, do you know what the minimum wage is?
BRUNNER: No sir.
BRENNAN: How about you Sarah Steelman?
STEELMAN: Uh…$7.50 an hour.
BRENNAN: Do you know what the minimum wage is?
AKIN: My guess is its somewhere in the 6 or 7, but I don’t know the exact number right now.
The federal minimum wage (and Missouri’s minimum wage) is $7.25 per hour. Certainly all three should know the wage level at which four million American workers are at or below. Akin, especially, should know, since in 2007 he voted against raising the minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25.
The candidates’ explanations for not wanting to raise the minimum wage ranged from nonsensical (Brunner said his business gave “better than the minimum benefits”) to extreme, with Akin calling for scrapping the minimum wage altogether. “I don’t think the government should be setting prices on wages in any way shape or form,” said Akin.
Steelman was opposed to raising the minimum wage because she “think[s] it’s high enough as it is.” A person working a minimum-wage job for 40-hour work weeks with no vacation would earn just $15,080 over the course of the year, before taxes.
Perhaps explaining their ignorance of the current minimum wage is the fact that none of the three candidates personally live anywhere near it. Akin owns two homes and receives an annual congressional salary of $174,000. Steelman has donated upwards of $400,000 to her own Senate campaign. Brunner tops them all, sporting a net worth of approximately $100 million.