At a press conference today, Republican Senate candidate and World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Linda McMahon (CT) celebrated the endorsement of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, a “prominent business interest lobby” that finds fault with unemployment insurance, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Family Medical Leave Act.
But “staff abruptly shut down” the conference when McMahon began endorsing the NFIB’s more controversial opposition to increasing the federal minimum wage. When pressed by reporters on whether she supported reducing wages, McMahon said “Congress should consider lowering” such a “mandate” that businesses cannot afford:
Most notably, McMahon said she believed Congress should consider lowering the federal minimum wage in times of economic distress for small businesses, such as the current recession.
“The minimum wage now in our country, I think we’ve set that and a lot of people have benefited from it in our country, but I think we ought to review how much it ought to be, and whether or not we ought to have increases in the minimum wage,” McMahon said.[…]
When reporters asked McMahon to clarify whether she would support reducing the wage, which is currently $7.25 per hour, the candidate replied, “We should always review the policy that is put in place.”
“I think we ought to look at all of those issues in terms of what mandates are being placed on businesses and can they afford them?” McMahon said. “I think we should get input from our business community. We should listen to our small business operators, and we should hear what it is they have to say and how it’s impacting their businesses and make some of those decisions.”
McMahon insisted that she was not advocating an elimination of the minimum wage altogether, but when pressed on whether the state’s minimum wage “was too high, or onerous on state businesses,” she “admitted that she did not know what the current minimum wage is” and decided she was “just not going to comment anymore.”
Six hundred and fifty economists, however, were quite clear in 2007 that an increase in minimum wage not only “would improve the well-being of low-wage workers” but would have “very little or no effect on employment” as critics suggest. In fact, the Economic Policy Institute found last year that the minimum wage acted as a “stealth stimulus” during the current economic crisis by boosting consumer spending by $4.9 billion.
But McMahon has no interest in delving into the actual impact of her policies. Indeed, McMahon admitted that she didn’t even know “if any of her employees at World Wrestling Entertainment are paid” a minimum wage. But if her treatment of her employees is any indication, Connecticut constituents shouldn’t expect even a health or pension benefit from her. That’s just how she does business.
A McMahon campaign spokesman called it a “creative interpretation” to say that McMahon would consider lowering the minimum wage, adding “she is clearly saying that we ought to review whether this is in fact the time to raise the rate.” However, the transcript from the event shows that McMahon pretty clearly left the door open to reducing the wage:
Ted Mann, The Day: Should it be reduced now? Since businesses are struggling, as you all described? Would you argue for reducing the minimum wage now?
McMahon: “We have got minimum wages in states, we have got minimum wages in the (federal) government, and I think we ought to look at all of those issues in terms of what mandates are being placed on businesses and can they afford them. I think we should get input from our business community. We should listen to our small business operators and we should hear what it is they have to say and how it’s impacting their businesses and make some of those decisions.”