>> milwaukee, wisconsin. tonight the fourth republican debate, and before it begins our guide to what you really need to know about. social security, wages, and your paycheck, national defense, and the right-to-work. the facts before you hear from the candidates. this is "america votes 2016." >> hi, everyone. this is al-jazeera america. then there were eight. in debate hosted by fox business and the "wall street journal." it's a smaller field. each candidate on the stage has at least 2.5% in the polls. the last time they met they clashed on taxes, immigration,
interest rates, and we can expect more fireworks tonight. we're at the debate in milwaukee. >> there's already fireworks outside one of the 500 gatherings in this country protesting in favor of a $15 minimum wage. possibly as many as 4,500 demonstrators outside. what you can hear right now are the four that didn't qualify, two didn't even qualify for the undercard debate. we've heard outstanding things, john. we married about mike huckabee talk about putting syrians into camps, and sending them footed. chris christie said if you elect a democrat to president you will see tax rates increase to 60% to
70%. we're not asking the moderators to have these candidates source what they said. chris christie in a question about the south china sea, the dispute between china and other countries, said the first thing i'll do as president is fly air force one over those islands. no sense of what that will do, what that will actually achieve. the sense that the moderators here would really hold the candidates to task is dissipating. we haven't even started the main event yet. michael has been listening with me. he's also hear at the debate. what are you hearing catching your attention? >> yeah, that's right. what i'm not hearing that's catching my attention more than what i'm hearing, i'm not hearing enough talk, enough detail, about economic issues, what the fox moderators actually promised. then as you mentioned, i haven't heard a lot of people reasking, following questions up. some of the sort of unbelievable things that may have been said are not being challenged by the
moderators. some of the things that we've heard from these four candidates have been certainly, to say the very least, compelling. >> hillary clinton is coming for your wallet, everybody. don't worry about huckabee orrin dal. worry about her. >> this is supposed to be an economics debate. let's have a debate. do we want to grow government or grow the american economy? grow the government or good-paying jobs? you don't grow the government by putting more people on food stamps, medicate. you grow the economy by cutting spending. >> we don't reduce the irs. we get rid of the irs. you know who i respect in the democratic party? you know why i respect them? because they fight. because they're not willing to back down. they're willing to stand up and fight and win. i respect them, because they are willing to take it to us. >> three candidates have talked
about the irs, getting rid of the irs tonight. it's chris christie that's stood out. what he's doing is taking the real estate you might of donald trump. he's talking about china, that sort of northeast swagger. he's trying to command the stage. everybody else is trying to come after him, john. >> michael, we'll get back to you later. the debate tonight is in wisconsin, but the state's governor won't take part. scott walker dropped out of the race back in september, but he's left his mark on it, and on the gop. walker fought a bitter battle against unions back in 2011. 14 democratic state senators fled the state of wisconsin to avoid voting on the bill to limit public sector bargaining power. they eventually lost. walker won. when it comes to unions, most of tonight's candidates are glad he did. >> governor scott walker didn't take on collective bargaining rights for public employees because he enjoyed the political circus. he did it because it was the right thing to do to create a
sustainable wisconsin. >> the 22 right-to-work laws, if you add up their viability versus others, they're winning every battle. >> right-to-work laws which prohibit unions from paying dues are a decisive issue. democrats say they help the middle class. we take a look at the facts. >> wisconsin governor scott walker became a tea party darling by limiting collective bargaining for public employees and making wisconsin a right-to-work state. >> it's about reform. it's about making sure we can put people to work, we can save jobs, and ultimately balance our budget. >> 25 states, including a handful in the rust belt, have right-to-work laws that make it illegal to force private sector workers to pay union dues. the laws are intended to attract employers and jobs, and they've been successful in some states. the labor department says 18 out of 25 states with the fastest employment growth have right-to-work laws.
and not surprising, those states also have had lower unemployment rates according to the most recent data. but there's also a downside. median hourly images in right-to-work states are roughly 16% lower than those in nonright-to-work states. >> not only do unions help to raise incomes for members, but they help to raise wages broadly in the -- in the labor market. and when there are fewer union workers working you should fewer union contracts, you do begin to compress wages downward. >> union membership has been declining over the last several decades. economist samuel rosenberg thinks there's a correlation between the drop and the decline in the middle class, but he says there are other reasons, too. >> the other part of the decline of the middle class has to do with the elimination of well-paying jobs. not merely unionized jobs, but
also nonunion jobs in the middle of the pay structure. >> still organized labor remains a force in the united states. about 15 million americans belong to unions, and in strongholds like illinois they play a pivotal role in getting their members out to vote. >> there's a smaller percentage of union members unquestionably, but they vote at rates that are higher than the general public, and when you can concentrate those votes in tight races that's enough to get -- that could be enough to get you over the finish line. >> even robert bruno concedes jobs aren't the only issue important to voters. if they were, scott walker might not have been re-elected governor. he promised to add 250,000 jobs during his first term. he fell short by about 100,000. >> david schuster is here with me in new york, and he'll take us through all the issues, where the candidates stand. let's start with organized
labor. david? >> john, for the most part republicans oppose organized labor. they support a national right-to-work law which would block unions and employers from negotiating contracts that require a union membership to work there. not at the main event, one of the most vocal anti-union candidates, new jersey governor chris christie. earlier this year, he described his battle with teachers, and said their union, quote, deserves a punch in the face. of the republicans on the main stage, not quite so hostile to unions, ohio governor john kasich did try to bust public employee unions five years ago, but ohio voters rejected the initiative, and he's since moderated his position and backed down from supporting right-to-work laws at least in ohio. florida governor jeb bush while generally antiunion has expressed his support for unions representing police and firefighters, but the most progressive republican on labor issues is donald trump. he has embraced collective bargaining, and said he never had a problem dealing with
unions. if there's going to be an argument tonight over unions expect trump to be on the defensive. for more let's head back to ali in milwaukee. ali? >> all right, david, thank you very much. we are here in milwaukee with democratic state senator lena taylor of wisconsin. she is one of the so-called wisconsin 14 that john talked about, who fought governor walker over public sector unions. you left the state to not have to vote. >> doesn't say to deny a quorum. >> so the vote couldn't take place. >> at that time, because they did a bill that was, like, 160 pages, and it took away collective bargaining, but had so many other issues, and also -- the real issue with collective bargaining is really allowing people to have a safe workplace, making sure they're able to negotiate a wage that's a fair wage so they can support a family. what happens when you don't have collective bargaining, it doesn't just affect union jobs, it affects all jobs, because unions create that basement for
lack of a better way of saying it. >> we're in a political environment here. you did all you could do, you and the others, there were sit-ins in madison. i mean, this captured the attention of a nation, but in the end it lost. the recall motion for governor walker lost as well. so what does that tell you about unions and their strength? >> i think a couple of things. the reason that governor walker won in the recall really had to do more with wisconsinites' concept of saying, look, he just got in. he didn't say, you know, umm, he wasn't going to do this, what some people felt. more than anything, they felt he needed a chance for his policies to take place. look at his polls now. his policies are such that we've lost the middle class. we have more job loss than ever before. he didn't keep his promise of 250,000 jobs. >> he created about 150,000, right? >> i question that. and the jobs that were created frankly are jobs that are not living wage jobs. we have more people now on public assistance, food stamps,
other government subsidies that individuals need to get. what it's taught us more than anything is people didn't fully have an understanding, and now that people see the effects of governor walk everybody's policies they're not -- governor walker's policies, they're not very happy. >> the undercard event is still going on. the main event has not started yet. you've been hearing about what they say about unions. you heard what david schuster said, that with the exception of donald trump they all think unions are bad for america. so what message do you want either these candidates or voters who would vote republican on this particular issue of unionization? what do you want them to hear? >> they've got to look at the facts. what they have to see is wherever there are right-to-work states, wherever there's not the ability to disagree, but to negotiate and to come up with what's best for the workforce as well as for the company, what you end up with are wages that are significantly less. what does that mean? if your wages are significantly less then people can't support their families the way they need
to. i think that donald trump is on to something. if you are capable of sitting down with people on the other side and negotiating, you won't have a problem. governor walker has never been able to negotiate effectively. >> there's something appealing, though, to telling liberty-minded americans that i'm going to give you the right-to-work. i'm not giving somebody the right to take something out of your paycheck. >> it's the right-to-work for less. nobody should be able to get something for nothing. if you benefit from the negotiations and from the work that a labor union does, then you should have to pay. i mean, did you appreciate your weekend? did you appreciate an eight-hour work day? it was brought to you by unions. do you appreciate having a safe working -- >> why do so many americans not feel the same way they used to? when you and i were young, picket lines meant something. it isn't happen that way anymore. >> people don't always make the
connections to what unions do and provide. i think in the end, what we have ask to ourselves is do people want to have a living wage. do people want to be able to have a workplace that's safe? if you don't have a way to be able to negotiate as a collective body -- let's be clear, our constitution says you can associate with who you want. i believe being in a union is part of that union being able to associate with who you want. >> thank you. coming up next, the huge pentagon budget that challenges the next president, what they'll face on defense, and how the candidates differ.
>> welcome back, everybody. ali is in milwaukee where eight republican candidates are going to face off tonight in a debate focused on business and the u.s. economy. ali? >> john, president obama said today he's going to sign a sweeping military spending bill approved by congress. he did so despite reservations about the bill. now, many presidential candidates have huge reservations about the way the president has funded the military during his administration, and they promise to do better. >> it is up to our next president to properly fund and modernize our military. >> i want to build up our
military, have an incredible military, that nobody will play games with us, nobody mess with us. >> it's not too much to ask for the people that defend our country that we eliminate waste so we can invest in them. >> we need to spend more money on our military. >> well, the current bill provides more than $600 billion for the pentagon. often whatnot matters is the amount of money spent, but what it's spent on. we take a closer look. >> former house speaker john boehner did the next president a huge favor by brokering a two-year bipartisan spending deal. it only buys the next administration barely nine months before the budget battle begins anew. as defense secretary ash carter told a forum over the weekend, that uncertainty makes it hard to spend money wisely on defense.
>> budget turmoil, herky-jerky year at a time budgeting, it's not good for us. >> the incoming president's briefing book will be bulging with competing military priorities, each with opportunities to spend more or make cuts, including some budget-busting weapons purchases, as the f-45 strike fighter, 24 radar-satisfieding jets for $400 billion. 100 new long-range strike bombers, a $60 million program. a new aircraft carriers which run $12 billion apiece, a program so far $6 billion over budget. while in theory military spending is discretionary, practically speaking it's not. congress won't kill big ticket items because they provide jobs, and troops at war have to be funded. for really wasteful spending, look no further than military bases. it's been 10 years since congress allowed a round of base
closings. the pentagon says the 2005 consolidation saveddens 4 billion, and with army shrinking the pentagon has it has between 18% and 30% base capacity than it needs, even a 5% reduction would save billions. here's the big roadblock. every base is in someone's congressional district. so congress keeps saying no. senate armed services committee chairman john mccain argues the problem is no one likes change. >> these are the choices we must make to ensure our military will be able to deter, and if necessary, fight and win our future wars. >> old strategies die hard. take nuclear deterrents, one place the next president could make a bold adjustment. america's bedrock cold war of bombers, land based intercontinental ballistics
missile make sense? might not two legs of the triad make enough to deter any adversary from starting a major war with the united states? along with things the pentagon doesn't want are things it does need for 21st century conflict. drones and money for cyber warfare, just a few of the big questions the candidates are not likely to address in any detail unless or until one becomes commander in chief. jamie mcintyre, al-jazeera christie, thepentagon. >> nearly all republican candidates are proposing an increase in u.s. military spending. jeb bush's plan is the most ambitious, increase defense spending outlays by $54 billion a year. most of the spending would be aimed at bolstering u.s. intelligence and counter intelligence programs. carly fiorina, businesswoman from california, has offered the
most detailed program of any candidate, increasing the number of brigades, marine battalions and navy vessels. experts say her plan would balloon the defense budget by $43 billion each year. donald trump and ben carson have both said, they would, quote, rebuild the u.s. military. neither, though, has been very specific. trump said the key is to hire a good manager at the pentagon. wasteful military spending is a big issue for kentucky senator rand paul as the candidate least inclined to advocate for military force, paul has been the most skeptical of increasing defend spending until the pentagon can better track and justify the budget it has now. john? >> david, thank you very much. republican congressman jack kingston served 22 years in the house of representatives. he was on the defense appropriations subcommittee. he's in washington tonight. congressman, spending more money on defense, is it good? is it the best way to spend taxpayers dollars? >> john, i think it depends on
the thread. with russia invading crimea, with isil on the rise with the middle east unstable, north korea, china taking over sea lanes, you just don't know. keep in mind, nf 9/11 cost our country. nuclear deterrent program, nuclear submarines are patrolling the waters of the world 24 hours a day to make sure if there's an attack we are ready. a lot of spending on military is in an attempt to be preventative. >> right. >> that's why it's really hard to measure. >> but, jack, as you know, republicans want to cut taxes. they want to cut the debt. how do you spend more money on defense? who pays for that? >> well, a couple of things. number one, i do think you have to measure military with the same yardstick that we republicans measure someone on a
social program. we've got to be fair and we've got to be honest about it. so having said that, there's a lot of things you can do in terms of procurement, in terms of letting the military get rid of old weapons systems, some of the parochial vision, our interests in base realignment and closure. it is a way of consolidating installations and a way of saving money. let me say this. since 2001, social spending has increased 61%. military spending, on the other hand, about 38%. pre-9/11 as an expenditure of the federal budget, it was about 16%. 9/11, those years that followed, it went to 21%. but now it's back down to 15%. >> well, i want to go back. you're saying you can pay for an increase in defense by billions and billions of dollars by closing bases?
>> you can absolutely can. you can consolidate things. to give you another example, many times the air force comes to congress with a recommendation to discontinue a certain type of airplane. and congress says, heck no, not in my district. and so if we let the military make some of their own spending decisions, particularly on inventory, it would make a heck of a lot of difference. they could save billions of dollars. you know what, the money is really not so much in weapons as it is in personnel. and that's where we circle the wagons and say, well, you can't reduce the benefits, can't ask the military to kick in more on their healthcare. that's the most sensitive thing of all when it comes to military. thou shall not touch personnel. >> trump and carson want to rebuild the military. what do you make of that claim? >> we have the same ship level that we did in 1916. it's below 300 ships.
when they're talking about that, they're talking about building specific systems and so forth. i think there's the perception that the military is hollow. i don't think it's true at all. i served on the defense committee. there's so much savings that you can get out of it. but you do need to be -- do need to be smart about. >> rand paul talks about wasteful spending. how much waste is there in the defense department? >> there's a lot of it is. jeff flake, senator from arizona, blew the whistle on paid patriotism, where the military was spending millions of dollars to have military appreciation day at sporting events. i know from when i was in congress, i took on the military sponsorship of nascar. $88 million. >> yeah. >> $100 million, i think, in the year 2011, $100 million was spent on military flyovers. and some of those went over domed stadiums. so, you know, i think republicans have to be willing
to measure all spending with the same yardstick no matter who the constituent is. >> congressman, stand by. we got more to talk to you about, but michael is in milwaukee and has more on the issue of defense and how spending could play out in tonight's debate. >> john, military spending is something that people will always talk about in republican debates, but particularly tonight the players to watch are rand paul, senator from kentucky, and senator marco rubio. rubio ahead in the polls above the other senators in this race, john, but what he's done he's latched on to a 16% rise in military spending. now, that's something in an earlier budget amendment -- not exciting stuff, but interesting stuff -- is that rand paul put forth a 16% budget amendment like rubio's, but rand paul offset it with other spending cuts. that's something that people will go after rubio tonight for, because a lot of people think he's a lot like hillary clinton, let's spend more here, but let's
>> welcome back, everyone. we're about 30 minutes away from the republican presidential debate in milwaukee. it's the second debate focusing on business and the economy. eight candidates taking part tonight. this hour we take a closer look at major issues, where the candidates stand. but first some of the day's other news. president obama says he plans to sign a $607 billion defense bill, even though it includes key provisions that he opposes. the senate passed the bill today. it contains language that prevents detainees at gauntanamo from being transferred to the u.s. the president promised to shut down the military prison there. he's working on a new proposal, but not expected to gain traction on capitol hill. the white house today also asking the supreme court to overturn a federal injunction that put a key part of the
president's immigration plan on hold. the injunction was upheld monday by a federal appeals court. it stops a new program that would allow up to 5 million undocumented immigrants to avoid deportation. the high court could hear the case this spring. a new vice chancellor in place at the university of missouri following the resignations of the school's president and chancellor yesterday. the tent city where protesters have been camping still stands in the middle of the quad. many students criticized the university's response to what they called rampant racism on campus. others say it's time to move forward. >> well, now it's about assurin, assuring that everyone does feel comfortable here. this is a learning environment. we're all paying to go here. i think the concerned students, and the group, has done a great job of listing demands, trying to make sure that everyone benefits from it. it's not only about the marginalized students. we're not trying to push the majority away, but we want everyone to feel safe and comfortable in a learning
environment. >> the football team, which threatened not to play until the president stepped down, resumed activities today. the president said it plans to hire diversity officers and take a look at ways to make the faculty more diverse. now we return to the debate in milwaukee. take a look at this video outside the debate. that's where protesters have gathered. many are arguing for $15 minimum age. ali has more. ali? >> yeah. there might be as many as 4500 people. looks active. maybe it's loud everyboder than. we've heard politicians talk about the need to fix social security. they say that social security is unsustainable, and could exhaust its reserves in a matter of years. several gop candidates suggest the best plan of action is to expect less from the program and to give less to workers. >> what i have proposed is that we give people the ability to opt out of social security
payments in lieu of a tax credit. >> it's going to have to look different for me. it will have to look different for my children. >> i would fix it by gradually racing the age. everybody knows the age has to go up. >> maybe i have to retire a year later than i'm scheduled to. >> they're actually talking about it, with those ideas on the table. we want to take a close leer at the nature of the social security crisis. whether social security really needs fixing and how the candidates plan t to do it. >> decision, give american retirees economic security. >> this social security measure gives at least some protection to millions of our citizens. >> 80 years after its creation, social security is now one of the government's hallmark programs, but do americans believe social security will be around for them? >> i do, yes. there are too many of us for it not to. >> what about for your children?
>> could be another situation. i do not know. that does not look hopeful. >> do you expect to get social security when you retire? >> i'm honestly not sure. i know that i'm saving for it right now, but i don't know that i will get it when the time comes. so no. >> we recently surveyed members of the gen-x and millennial generations, basically people more or less 50 and under, and about half of each of those generations do not expect social security to be there. >> politicians have been warning for years of a looming crisis, but it's hardly new. >> if it's a crisis, it's the best foreseen crisis in history, because we've been talking about the demographic and financial challenges of social security for decades now. >> here's how the program works. today's retirees get their benefits from the taxes paid by current workers. even though you spend years paying into the system, it doesn't go into a personalized account. >> we like to think there's a drawer of money in the social
security administration building with our name on it. that's not true. it doesn't work that way. >> the money taxed from workers used to be enough to fund the retirements of the older generations. in the 1980s, the nation saw a threat on the horizon, baby boomers. as they retired, they'd create a bubble of people drawing on the system, so congress changed the formula to collect more taxes. for 30 years more money came in than went out, but that all changed five years ago when boomers started to retire. now there's a negative cash flow. last year payouts were $74 billion higher than earnings. that's projected to go up this year to $84 billion. and the social security trust fund estimates its reserves will be totally depleted by 2034. even if that trust fund dwindles, social security will keep operating. >> i think people have not made the connection that even after the pot of money is gone, you'll still be paying social security
taxes. there will be money flowing into the system. >> it's filling the gap that's the challenge. politicians propose more taxes, reduced benefits, or changing the age you can collect, but there's another option, prioritizing social security payouts over other government functions, because at the end of the day it's tax dollars that go to fund social security just like everybody else. >> social security is one issue where there are clear divisions between these republican candidates. david schuster has more on that. david? >> ali, all the republican candidates acknowledge that social security is one of the most popular federal programs, however in its current formal program will become insolvent in 20 years. again the divide is over what to do. marco rubio and rand paul would try to cut program costs. rubio by shrinking benefits. paul would raise the age at which benefits are paid out.
in other words, instead of collecting benefits at age 65, you would have to keep working until you were 67 or 68. jeb bush has spoken a lot about means testing social security benefits. under his plan, wealthier retirees might see their benefits trimmed. texas senator ted cruz has suggested a combination of means testing, raising the retirement age, and cutting benefits, but he says it should all only be phased in gradually. and then there's donald trump. he would not cut benefits, nor would he raise the retirement age. trump says social security can be fixed by improving america's economic growth. experts are not so sure, so on this issue look for a possible battle between trump and the rest of the republican field. john? >> david, thank you very much. and joining us again, former republican congressman jack kingston in washington tonight. all right, back in 2005 president bush tried to overhaul social security. what happened? you were there. >> john, it was just chaotic.
i mean there was too much bait for opposition. i'll say this is really good they're going to talk about this tonight. i hope that the democrats will also do the same thing, because as a nation 56 million people are on some form of social security. so we should be talking about it. applaud all of them for putting it out there. i held 17 town meetings on it. everybody would admit, yes, it's going broke. everybody wanted to save it. everybody wanted it to be saved, they all -- >> they want to cut benefits. >> they want another generation to wait longer. by the way, when you say you can't retire at 65 or 67, you could do it at 70, that is a benefit cut, because you're working longer, not getting the benefit out of it. you know, when my dad retired, 1980, he got all of his benefits back in three years. he lived another 25 years. if you retire today, you get your benefits back in 17 years. for my children, they won't get
it at all. >> if there's no political well, then how does a new congress deal with this, or a new president? >> you know, it would just be one of those wonderful american moments when we could have bipartisan discussions and say, look, we all know it's going to be done, we're all going to give a little bit, take a little bit of the trump plan, a little bit of the bush plan, a little bit of hillary clinton's plan, o'malley's plan, and come together for all generations. i've often said that you've got to have everybody at the kitchen table. you've got to have grandmother, you've got to have mom and dad, and the children. >> you'll excuse me if it sounds like pie in the sky to me, but what about this whole idea of private accounts? do you think that could work, too? i mean, given what happened in 2008 and 2009 to the market. >> well, i think if you look at stock market over a 10, 25-year period of time, and that's a lot less time than most workers will be in the workplace, the stock market has outperformed social security over and over again. that's the type plan, by the
way, that every single federal worker has. it's not in lieu of social security. they still get social security, but the thrift savings plan lets federal workers choose between five or six different options, and that plan, the tsp, has outperformed social security by 10%, 15%, over and over again, including the recession of 2009. >> well, now, back in 2005, the "l.a. times" wrote, they said that republican leaders in congress faced with the political reality on the ground, doesn't have the grassroots momentum behind president bush's plan. has anything changed since 2005 when it comes to social security? >> no, i don't think so at all, because i can say this, if president obama had had a social security plan it would have been criticized by republicans. if a republican does, it's going to be criticized by democrats. we've got to come together. that's where the press could actually do a great job, come in
and say, this isn't a republican plan, it's not a democrat plan, we're trying to do something for the next generation. we can protect it for grandmother, but we've got to preserve it for grandchildren. and i think that's where -- if we could come together, as a nation, outside of washington, d.c., it is possible. >> are you for raising the cap on social security taxes? >> i think it has to be put on the table. the cap right now is about $140,000. i think you could take a look at that. i think you've also got to say that the age people are living a lot longer. i don't mind working till i'm 70. but somebody who's a brick mason might not be able to. maybe there should be a differential between somebody who's doing labor with their body versus somebody who's sitting at a desk, because you wear out faster if you do that. the other thing is to get the workforce going again, it used to be a worker-to-retiree ratio of 15 workers to one retiree. today it's down to three workers
per retiree. it is not sustainable. >> congressman, thank you for helping us sort this out tonight. we appreciate it. >> well, thanks. great discussion. >> it is. michael is in milwaukee. he has more on the candidates and social security. michael? >> yeah, social security is obviously an issue that the republicans have been dealing with for quite a while. you'll hear john kasich talk about it. there's a cast of republicans, john, that have been ignoring john kasich, his success in ohio, when he's talking about protecting medicaid, protecting score, but then when you go to -- so -- anyway, okay, john, i was saying there's republicans on either side. some say that social security and medicaid should be protected, people like john kasich especially who are doing that, and -- >> mike, we're having trouble
for years wages have been stagnant. last month american workers did see an average increase in their wages. sit down for this. it was nine cents an hour. that's the biggest increase since the great recession. tonight if the issue of wages comes up, and it might, few candidates are likely to endorse raising them. >> the undeniable truth is if the president succeeded in raising the minimum wage, it would cost jobs from the most vulnerable. >> one of the reasons companies are leaving is because salaries are too high. >> well, many republicans argue that stagnant wages are not the
private sector's fault, and raising them is not the government's business. what are the facts when it comes to what drives your wages or keeps them stalled? here's a report. >> from low-skilled workers to middle-class college graduates, americans are feeling the pain of stagnant paychecks. right before the great recession, the annual median u.s. household income adjusted for inflation was around $57,000. five years into the recovery, it had fallen to roughly $53,000. that wage drop masks an even bigger concern, says the economic policy institute's josh bejoshin. >> they were flat in the seven years before that, during the economic expansion of 2000 to 2007. >> especially for low and middle income earners, which biffens blames on the fed prioritize inflation over low employment,
globalization shipping jobs to lower wage countries and the 0 rowings of unions and collective bargaining pushing more gains to the very top. >> we're robbing low and moderate wage workers of the prime vehicle bargaining power, and that means more and more of the rewards of work have gone to the very top of income and wage distribution. >> not everyone agrees that wages are stuck, including the manhattan institute. >> i think the premise that there is wage stagnation is false. when you add total compensation, such as benefits, pensions, health insurance, vacation, sick leave, you find the total compensation package has risen. >> but she acknowledges low-skilled workers are falling behind. >> part of this is due to our education system. >> those with the least education have fallen furthest behind since 1990. since 2000, college graduates have also seen their wages fall,
implying that when it comes to paycheck pain everyone but the very top is feeling it. >> let's go back to david schuster now for a look at the differences between the candidates on the issue of minimum wage. david? >> ali, the minimum wage for the folks at the bottom, it is $7.25 an hour. there are no republican presidential candidates who are outright supporters of raising it. businesswoman carly fiorina says the issue should be left to the states to decide. jeb bush and donald trump in the past have said that the minimum wage should be left entirely to the private sector. they've said if businesses want to pay less than $7.25 the government shouldn't be able to interfere. however, donald trump has moderated his position a bit, and in recent months he and neurosurgeon ben carson have indicated they'd consider a two-tier minimum wage with a different minimum level for younger and older workers.
carson proposed linking the minimum wage to inflation levels. the most progressive candidate is john kasich, saying as president he would consider arguments for raising it. it will be an election issue, because the democrats all support raising it by at least $5 an hour. ali? >> david, i'm just doing the math on this. if you have $7.25 an hour, work roughly 40 hours a week, that gets you to $15,000 a year. even if you raise minimum wage, if you raise it to $15 an hour, you take everybody who works minimum wage full time, and you actually move them above the poverty line. that's the interesting part about it. but it's not actually the core of this whole wage stagnation issue. wage stagnation has been for everybody in the middle. a lot of democrats -- a lot of republicans are trying to distinguish between the two,
saying rage raise the minimum we does not solve the wage stagnation issues. they're two different issues. >> that's right. that's an issue on the democratic side, the same argument, but at a different level. democrats say, fine, we should raise the minimum wage to $12 an hour, $15 hour an hour, but bernie sanders, for example, says that doesn't solve the problem of closing the wage gap overall. very interesting tonight to see how the republicans both address the minimum wage and are they asked specifically for how do you deal with the other larger wage gap problem. >> that is the issue. will the moderators actually understand the nuance of the question enough to sort of say there are two major issues when it comes to wages in america. one is that the vast middle has not seen their income increase in the last several years versus the top 1%, the top 5%. the other one, the worst among us, can't make a living out of what's going on. david, thank you for that.
let me bring in wisconsin state senator lena taylor. you've been keeping an eye on what's going on outside. this one of several protests across the country on minimum wage. if you raise the minimum wage from 25 to $10, the current legislation, to $12 or $15, a lot of these republican candidates say -- there's stuff that backs it up -- a lot of people will lose jobs. >> well, let's be clear. when the top 1% is making more and that's not being provided to the individuals who literally make those companies work, then the question is whether or not the corporate citizens need to rethink what they're talking about. let's talk about that again. if someone is making $15,000 a year, can they support a family on that? >> are your mcdonald's employees, baggage handlers -- >> or doing nothing, caring for
a loved one. >> the reality is 900,000 people will be lifted out of poverty and 500,000 will lose jobs. >> the reality is those individuals presently making $15,000, if they're getting food stamps, the other components that they are, the reality is really are we benefiting. i would argue that we need to lift people up to wages where they can support their families, and we need to reconsider what other industries, what other things can we do for other individuals that maybe will lose jobs, but hopefully won't, but maybe the 1% can quit making the money at the top and giving some to those that are really making the companies work. >> you're speaking about fairness. >> i am. >> under the obama administration, the federal minimum wage has gone up three times. we're at 25 a $7.25 an hour. is $15 politically a tough number to get to for americans? >> i would argue that $15 is
probably tough for some to get to, and maybe some gradual process in order to get there. but in the end it boils down to people deserve an opportunity to be able to do what we all want to do, which is support our families. you can't do that at $15,000 a year. even though you say that's lifting people out of poverty, maybe we should relook at what we're identifying poverty as. >> gets you a little over $30,000 if you give people $15 an hour. >> you look at what ben carson and donald trump are saying, and a lot of conservatives use this argument to say the fast-food industry was not meant to be an industry upon which you supported your family, that it was entry-level stuff, not for main earners. >> whether it was or wasn't, it is today, and people are working two or three jobs. what are we doing? if parents can't be home to take care of their children, then we have other issues that we end up paying for. in the end, we'll pay for this
one way or another. we have to determine whether we want people to have a living wage so they can take care of their families, including that means to be home to do homework with johnny when johnny gets home. >> what about the idea of a two-tier minimum wage? in other words, for young people, entry-level jobs, would you -- >> there's discussion that needs to happen here. there's a business owner here, a company that sells custard, and he does his own two-tier system. it can be different for young people. let's be clear. there's young people now who are their wage earners in their families. i do believe we have to have the real conversation. having the conversation suggesting people can survive on $7.25, wages that are not living, is not fair. >> real quick, you've introduced a bill for people who earn tips. >> that's right. $2, come on. individuals survive on that. if they try to push back on
their employers, often they don't get the time. they're not getting their tips the way they need to. the truth of the matter is these are issues that need to be drafted we're talking about $15 an hour. i'm saying the person at $2 an hour needs to be able to get a higher wage. >> senator lena taylor, thank you so much for joining us. >> thank you. >> we're taking a quick break. we'll be right back. stay with us. >> explosions going on... we're not quite sure - >> is that an i.e.d.?
>> one noneconomic issue that might come at tonight in milwaukee is character. michael, how big of an issue do you think this could be in the debate tonight? >> you know, john, if i were ben carson i would be expecting a lot of incoming tonight, a lot of people asking him about some of the issues on his resume, plot to of the inflation that he said about west point. i think ben carson has a chance loss to clear the record on that, to get the audience behind him by saying, listen, i said what i said, but this is not about this, this is about issues. then he runs into a fox business debate about economics, one of his weaker suits. he will certainly be the guy to watch tonight, john. >> he will be. michael shure, thank you very much. that's our broadcast. thank you for watching.
"on target" is next. . >> i'm ali velshi in milwaukee, on target - substance over style. we'll cut through the campaign noise and clarify the issues even if presidential candidates debating here tonight don't. >> good evening, welcome to a special edition of "on target". i'm joining you from milwaukee, wisconsin. this rust belt city is where the leading candidates for president