McMahon’s millions and the minimums for the masses

MCMAHON’S MILLIONS AND THE MINIMUMS FOR THE MASSES…. A scandalous multi-millionaire can buy a primary win, and even run enough ads to position herself to buy a Senate seat, but it’s tough to put a price on sound judgment and policy smarts. Connecticut’s Linda McMahon was reminded of this yesterday.

Republican Linda McMahon accepted the endorsement of a prominent business interest lobby on Thursday, but her campaign staff abruptly shut down a press conference in which McMahon was asked to explain whether she agreed with all of the organization’s positions.

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.

McMahon, who made her fortune running a scandal-plagued wrestling company, added that she had no idea what the federal or state minimum wage currently is. (Connecticut’s minimum wage is $8.25 an hour, while the federal wage is $7.25 an hour.)

While McMahon camp later denied the candidate supports lowering the minimum wage, the facts proved hard to spin. She was asked about a reduction to the rate, and McMahon said, “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? … 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.”

“Review,” the Republican campaign said, doesn’t necessarily mean “reduce.” But in context, is there any doubt about McMahon’s position on this? During a struggling economy, the far-right Senate hopeful clearly buys into the notion that the minimum wage may hurt businesses. Why else would she want to “review” it?

As a policy matter, McMahon clearly doesn’t know what she’s talking about. As a political matter, she hasn’t done her campaign any favors

With a lower minimum wage, “You’d have even more people who were poor even though they were working than you already do,” said Elizabeth Lower-Basch, a policy analyst with the Center for Law and Social Policy in Washington, D.C. “In this economy, you’d have some people who were desperate enough to take the jobs — at least in the short run. Others wouldn’t be able to take them because they can’t afford to — after paying for child care and transportation, they’d be losing money. Overall, it probably wouldn’t have much of an effect on the economy as a whole. The minimum wage in the US is still sufficiently low that it only affects a small portion of the labor market.”

McMahon’s opponent jumped on the remarks: “Linda McMahon laid off ten percent of her workers and takes home $46 million a year so it’s no surprise she’s thinking about lowering the minimum wage,” said a spokeswoman for Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal (D).

John Olsen, president of the AFL-CIO in Connecticut, also jumped on the remarks: “It is outrageous that multi-millionaire McMahon is open to reducing the minimum wage, and mind boggling that she doesn’t even know how much it is.”