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tv   Washington Journal  CSPAN  December 30, 2015 12:17pm-1:18pm EST

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anecdotally. >> i would suggest i do have evidence. i was told that by providers. >> i was told there was a santa claus but i found out real quickly that there wasn't. >> congressman, i would suggest that's evidence. if you choose not to believe me, then i suppose i can't help you with that. i've been told and agents that work for me have been told that in some cases. >> i'll just let that one sit. mr. ceresney, during an exchange with senator leahy in a senate hearing on this topic, you said with regard to phone calls you're not seeking authority that criminals have that civil agencies do not. you're essentially seeking more authority than the criminals have. isn't that contradictory? >> i don't think we're seeking more authority than the criminals have. >> what are you seeking? >> i'm sorry? >> then what are you seeking? i'll give you a chance to clarify that. >> what we're seeking is the ability to obtain e-mails after we try to obtain them from an individual subscriber by going
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to the court and allowing the subscriber to raise whatever objections they have before the court. >> like i said, it's interesting that some of the testimony that's been giving here, i think it's very concerning from some issues of anecdotal evidence and real evidence and discussions, especially on the sec side, when you're giving, you know, your own report saying you're doing more than you've ever done this, yet without this, by choice or decision, however you want to do it. mr. calabrese, one last question for you, because my time is now over. but in dissent from the sec request, the commissioner wrote, i am not convinced this is necessary to maintain the efficiency of law enforcement. on the other hand, i am concerned that the judicial mechanism could entrench authority that have potential to lead invasions of privacy and in some circumstances may be unconstitutional in practice. do you agree or disagree with his concern? >> i do worry that we will
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create an unconstitutional or incredibly reckless carve-out for civil agencies. and my home is that we continue to push hr 699 forward as is, to a markup, and we can vote and get it to the floor. >> seeing how it's just me and the distinguished ranking member, this concludes today's hearing. without objection, all members have five legislative days to submit additional written questions for the witnesses or additional materials for the recalled. with that this hearing is adjourned. as 2015 wraps up, c-span presents "congress: year in review," a look back at all the news making issues, debates, and hearings that took center stage
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on capitol hill this year. join us thursday at 8:00 p.m. eastern as we revisit mitch mcconnell taking his position as senate majority leader. pope francis's historic address to a joint session of congress. the resignation of house speaker john boehner and the election of paul ryan. the debate over the nuclear deal with iran. and reaction from congress on mass shootings here and abroad. gun control, terrorism, and the rise of isis. "congress: year in review: on c-span, thursday at 8:00 p.m. eastern. the second session of the 114th congress begins in january. the house is back for legislative work next tuesday, january 5th. among the items on the agenda next week, the budget reconciliation bill that would defund planned parenthood and repeal the affordable care act. the senate has already approved the legislation and the president said he would veto it. the senate returns the following week on monday, january 11th.
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senators will consider a u.s. circuit court nomination in pennsylvania and a bill from kentucky senator rand paul that would require an audit of the federal reserve. the house is live on c-span and the senate live on c-span 2. coming up next here on "washington journal," we're going to talk about efforts to raise the minimum wage across the country. in particular, this effort called fight for 15, raising specific minimum wage to $15 an hour. a bit of a roundtable discussion across the country here. we're joined here in washington at our washington journal table by james sherk, who is a labor and economics research fellow with the heritage foundation, and joining us from kansas city this morning is kendall fells, the organizing director in the organization called fight for 15. kendall fells, let's start with you and ask you about this effort, fight for 15. what's behind it? >> well, bill, i think first we
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have to take a step back. about 36 months ago, about 2 fun fast food workers in new york city went on strike. they had two demands. $15 an hour, and a right to form a union without retaliation from their employer. at the time, when fast food workers went on strike, people thought they were crazy. here we are 36 months later, and you see victories all across the country, $15 minimum wage in l.a., $15 statewide through a mechanism called a wage board in new york state, where 150 to 200,000 fast food workers received $15. a raise in the minimum wage in san francisco, in seattle, companies like facebook, i can go on and on. the point that i'm making is that these fight for 15 workers, fast food workers, home care workers, childcare workers, have created a movement in this country that is sweeping and changing politics as we know it. i think working people now see when they come together, their voices can be heard. i think that you see in the
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victories that politicians and companies are listening. and now these workers have their eyes set on the 2016 election. >> the federal minimum wage is what, $7.25 an hour. that's over a doubling of that federal minimum wage, correct? why such a big increase in the minimum wage, in your efforts? >> i mean, when you look at fast food workers specifically, over 52% of them are on public assistance. so about $7 billion a year in taxpayers' money is being used to feed, house, and clothe these workers, because companies like mcdonald's only pay $7.25. and a lot of times these workers work three years, five years, seven years and don't receive a raise. workers came up with the $15 demand because that's what they need to get food, clothing, and shelter and be able to survive. there's no city in america where you can live on less than $15 an
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hour. >> let me ask james sherk, what's the economic impact we've seen or is there any evidence so far of what happens when the minimum wage gets raised specifically by that amount? >> there's no doubt that people are struggling. this has been a very weak economy, weak recovery. but what we need are policies that are actually going to help. the congressional budget office estimated if we went to $10.10 an hour, it would cost half a million jobs. neither we nor other western industrialized nation has tried to raise the minimum wage that high. the best evidence is places like puerto rico, which unfortunately for them in the 1970s, they got tied into the u.s. federal main line minimum wage. puerto rico has a cost of living and per capita income about a third that of the u.s. and so when they went up to the federal minimum wage, this was going in the neighborhood of 15 to $20 an hour here. over the next seven to 11 years,
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many jobs disappeared there. 9% of all jobs in the puerto rican economy disappeared in the course of six or seven years because they raised the minimum wage so high. so we don't have a lot of evidence but the evidence we do have is pretty concerning. >> when is the last time the federal minimum wage was raised? >> 2009. we've had state minimum wage increases since then, about 25 or so states that have minimum wage currently above the federal minimum wage. >> we want to invite our c-span and "washington journal" viewers and listeners to join the conversation. if you are earning the minimum wage and understanding that that minimum wage could be different in the city where you are, if you're earning minimum wage as a worker, a special line for you. we'll get to your calls
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momentarily. kendall fells, about that minimum wage, it is different from state to state in some places, or city to city in your efforts. is it your intention to move this $15 an hour effort nationwide? in other words, boost that minimum wage to $15 an hour for all job categories? >> well, here's the thing. fast food workers are really spearheading the fight for 15. you know, but when you look at everyone that's coming out to the rallies, people who are participating, people who have been motivated by these fast food workers, you see childcare workers, convenience store workers, et cetera, you know, what these fast food workers really want is mcdonald's to come to the table and negotiate $15 an hour and the right to form a union. what you see is politicians who have gotten caught up in the momentum these workers have created, and they're responding to the demand. what you see is companies doing the exact same thing.
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so at the end of the day, low wage workers, it's about 64 million of them in this country, and they want $15, whether it comes directly from their company or it comes through legislation or it comes through a wage board, workers need enough money to be able to survive in today's economy. >> james sherk, getting back to your comment, you talked about the report on whether they raised it to $10.10. would there be an economic impact if they raised it to $7.75 an hour, eight bucks an hour? there's going to be some economic impact, correct? >> the fact of the matter is there aren't all that many workers making the current u.s. minimum wage right now. there's a report put out every year. i invite listeners to google that report, characteristics of minimum wage workers in 2014. there's two million workers
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making below the minimum wage. that's generally employees working at a restaurant, and with tips they come well above the minimum wage. >> let's see what our viewers' experience is. bar harbor, safety harbor, rather, florida, mike on our republican line. mike, good morning. >> groood morning. i would like to wish everyone a happy thanksgiving. mr. fells, i don't want you earn $15 an hour. i want you earning 25, 50, $100, t $200 an hour. the very concept and structure of the employment and working in america is centered around, you have to advance your skill level. and unfortunately, pretty much every single job at a fast food establishment outside of managerial requires very little if any skills.
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meaning you could take a human being and bring them in and in two hours they could master the skills. i'm not saying it's not demanding work and i'm not saying that it doesn't have value. but the value it presents, it doesn't equal $15. and if i can, c-span, i need to talk a little bit more about the financial -- you know, this all comes down to the value of our dollar. and various socialist laws that are being passed, i mean, does the gentleman, mr. fells, understand how obamacare has directly affected fast food workers and their hours? >> a couple of good points there, mike. we'll hear from kendall fells. go ahead. >> i mean, i think that the facts speak for themselves. when $7 billion a year in tax dollars are being spent to subsidize workers who work for companies like mcdonald's who makes $5 billion a year, the fast food industry is a $200 billion a year industry, has the largest disparity between the
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front line workers and the ceo, more than a thousand times is what the ceo makes, more than the front line worker. i think that people at this point in the country realize that the only way we're going to get the economy back on track is to get money in the pockets of low wage workers. when 46% of workers in this country make less than $15 an hour, then taxpayers are forced to pick up the bill. while companies make off with sacks of money. now es that dynamic changing. since this campaign started, children and families will have better holidays at the end of this year because of this campaign and what workers have done and the bravery they've displayed, going on strike. >> first of all, i think the gentleman has an excellent point on the minimum wage being really more of a learning wage. the fact of the matter is a majority of american workers started out their careers making
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within a dollar of the minimum wage. those are statistics from the bureau of labor statistics, a report they did a few years back. statistically speaking, more than half the people watching today started at the minimum wage. very few of those people are still at the minimum wage. what happens is, you start out with fewer skills and less experience. very often the soft skills, things like showing up regularly for work each day when you would rather hit the snooze button. >> do either of you know what the average age of a fast food worker would be? >> again, if you look at the bureau of labor statistics report, what you can see is that 56% of those who are making the federal minimum wage are between the ages of 16 and 24 years of age. >> kendall fells, your quick response. >> the average age of a fast food worker is about 28 years old. two-thirds of them are women. and the average age of a woman in fast food is about 33 years
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old. there was a day when fast food workers were teenagers trying to get book bags. now they're adults trying to figure out how to raise kids, pay a mortgage, and keep food in their refrigerator. >> let's go to south dartmouth, massachusetts, ray on the independents line. >> hi, how are you? i wanted to say, my girlfriend worked at walmart for 16 years. she got ms. and they used to have seminars to tell those people how to get on food stamps, how to get health insurance. they used to have seminars. and 16 years of working there, when she was diagnosed with ms, they actually took her discount card away from her, you know? i mean, sure, the republicans got the midterm election, but let me tell you something, come the new election, everybody's going to come out. you only had 26% of the people
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vote in the midterm. wait 'til this next election. you'll see a big change. thank you very much. >> okay. here's nacogdoches, texas, the independents line. >> good morning. i don't understand why it's a big problem, if a democrat says something, like minimum wage being $15, because now, if i'm not mistaken, some of the republican candidates are saying that the minimum wage ought to be $15. but when a democrat was saying it, it's wrong, but now when a republican, one of the republicans now even call in on the show saying that it's hard for somebody to live on $15 an hour. so it's society trying to keep
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everybody in check if you're this or that. i'm going to leave it right there because i can't get it out. they try to paint a picture of where you should be. but everybody needs to make good money to survive. some people are working two or three jobs and still can't pay their bills. thank you. >> he was talking about politicians, their comments on the campaign trail about the minimum wage. we have heard in particular from hillary clinton, here's what she's calling for in the efforts, her efforts to boost the minimum wage. >> the overall message is that it doesn't result in job loss. however, what alan krueger said in the piece you're referring to, is that if we went to $15, there are no international comparisons. that is why i support a $12 national federal minimum wage. that is what the democrats in the senate have put forward as a proposal. but i do believe that is a
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minimum. and places like seattle, like los angeles, like new york city, they can go higher. it's what happened in governor o'malley's state. there was a minimum wage at the state level and some places went higher. >> it didn't just happen. >> that's the hardest way to move forward. if you go to 12, it would be the highest level we have had. >> do you think this is something best level to cities and states? >> absolutely, this should be addressed at as local a level as possible. $12 an hour nationwide, that means very different thing in new york city than charleston, west virginia. $12 an hour in san francisco and in memphis, tennessee are very different things. trying to impose a uniform federal wage floor simply can't account for those local cost of living differences. it also doesn't account for the differences in local economies. you could have an economy that's in a recession where jobs are
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very hard to come by. we're making the tradeoff between higher wages and jobs is particularly painful. a national wage doesn't take that into account. >> kendall fells, tell us about your local successes and some of the failures you may have had in boost it go to $15 an hour. >> when you look across the country, the evidence is overwhelming. you look at a place like new york state, governor cuomo, who is really far from, you know, a part of the economic -- kind of the liberal economic bastion of thinking, so to speak. new york state, new york city, albany, rochester, those workers are at -- going to be at $15 an hour because of the work that these workers have done with the fight for 15. if you look at l.a., same thing, through the city council, $15.
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seattle, the same thing. san francisco, the same thing. birmingham, alabama, $10.10. $13 in kansas city, missouri. $15, facebook raised their wages to $15. aetna raised their pay to $15. so on and so forth. the democratic party has picked up $15 as their platform for 2016. i think that what you see is politicians specifically realizing that in november there's going to be a referendum on wages. and these workers need 15 and they need it now. the voting bloc is about 64 million workers across this country who make less than $15 an hour. north carolina, 2 million or more workers lake less than $15. you look at a battleground state like florida, 4 million or so workers make less than $15. just moving a fraction of those workers to the polls could swing elections all across the
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country. this movement has been extremely successful. the democratic party has picked up the platform, and you see companies raising their pay to 15 voluntarily. you see politicians like rahm emanuel in chicago going to $13. i think that's all evidence that when workers come together around a simple demand like $15 an hour and the right to form a union, that change can be created. >> our conversation this morning is about raising the minimum wage with james sherk of the heritage foundation, kendall fells with fight for 15. we welcome your calls too. quick comment before we go back to calls, jim sherk. >> if you look at the polls, 75% of americans oppose raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, including presumably a lot of those who are below $15 an hour. the reason for that is people recognize it would be very destructive and cost a lot of jobs.
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the true minimum wage is zero dollars an hour. a company doesn't have to hire you. a company is not going to hire a worker unless their productivity is more than their wage. they're just not going to get hired at $13 $15 an hour, they' not going to have a job. >> caller: good morning, gentlemen. as a person that owned businesses, a minimum wage -- at times i would get people that were so worthless, and i gave them the minimum wage, but that's a learning wage. many of them could do better. the thing is, is it $15 for everyone? no. they've got to learn. it takes time. you keep on working and working and working, and you learn, and guess what, you can find a
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better job, or your boss will give you better wages. >> let's hear one more call and get a followup from our guests. to ian in oceanside, new york. go ahead. republican line. >> caller: yeah, i run companies too, and it's just capitalism dictates a wage. in mcdonald's across the street from nathan's is giving eight bucks and nathan's says ten bucks, you'll have more -- just like the gentleman said, manhattan does great, can gave a higher wage. i would like to see some union high-ups buy a franchise at mcdonald's and try and charge whatever they can charge to get their $15 an hour wage, and see if it works out. maybe a company does good enough to give their employees 15 and he's on hard times and he says, listen, i'm going to go under, do we all want to put food on the table, can you get to 12 bucks. you can't have the government just come in, set wages, because
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also there's a man who worked four years to get $15 an hour. now people are walking through the door. how is that fair to him, or the manager who worked there ten years to make 30 an hour? >> all right. kendall fells, your thoughts, hearing from a couple of business owners. what are you hearing? >> i mean, you know, i just think that taxpayers when voters have already spoken. no one wants to live in a country where, you know, terrence wise is one of our biggest fight for 15 leaders in missouri. he works at an mcdonald's and burger king for 70 hours a week, he still struggles to feed his children. we're at a place in this country where people do not want to live in a country where you can work 60 or 70 hours a week and still live in poverty and still be on state assistance. i think taxpayers are tired of paying $7 billion a year, $1
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billion a year just for employees who work at mcdonald's, just so into the fast food industry can still make off with $200 billion in their pockets. on a certain level, this debate has already ended, because the facts speak for themselves and wages are being raised across the country. and these low wage workers have created a movement that is rewiring the politics of this country. and wages are being raised by 3, 4, 5, $6, depending on the city and state you're talking about. in a lot of ways this debate is already dead and the workers have already won. >> james sherk, what are you hearing as wages get raised in these cities? >> i think he's got an excellent point, it is in fact expensive to get by particularly in major cities. but his solution is the wrong way to go back it. there was a paper last year about minimum wage workers in 2009 when the last increase went through. following their earnings a few years after the wage increase went up, their monthly earnings
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had dropped by $150 a month, primarily because they either weren't getting the jobs or if they did get a job, it took them longer and they weren't building as much experience and able to learn as much of a raise. with the best of intentions, the pro opponenponents of higher mi wage wanted to help people get ahead and their earnings dropped. a better approach would be to focus on the cost of living. we just released a report identifying a number of different regulations at the state and local level that make it more expensive to rent a house, make it more expensive to buy a car, make it more expensive to buy groceries and gas up your car. and on and on throughout the economy. the average family in america would save about $4400 a year if we got rid of these regulations. i think that's the much better approach of doing it. i agree, the cost of living is too high. there's a lot of people who are in a difficult spot. but the solution to that is not to put them out of a job. the solution is to get rid ofhk these cost drivers that are
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causing them to pay more to buy a car or rent an apartment in the first place. >> john on the democrats line. >> caller: the last speaker definitely had some good points. i think he might be understating it when he says that the minimum wage is zero. certainly no one's going to work for zero. if the minimum wage is zero, then the minimum profit for a company is zero, and no company would do business for no money, i guess except for nonprofits. when i heard him reference how many people were at the minimum wage working, how many people were under the minimum wage working, i just want to know, does that include the over 1 million workers currently in prison making, i don't know, 15 to 37 cents an hour, 20 bucks a month, working for companies like victoria's secret, johnson and johnson, hp? thanks. >> to answer the gentleman,
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those statistics would not include people in prison. and those are certainly valid concerns about taking advantage of prison labor, where it looks an awful lot like state and local governments are profiting off their labor and paying a fraction of market wage. when i said zero dollars an hour, it was a reference to unemployment. somebody don't have to hire you. unless you're an intern, you're not going to be working for free. but if you're bringing in $10 an hour in revenue and the company has to pay $15 an hour, they're not going to take a loss in hiring you. >> tweet us at c-spanwj. edward tweets, "i can hardly forward to go out for dinner now. a raise in prices would hurt me now." from glenn, who asked, "do we need a new category for wage earners? not all wage earners can survive paying $15 an hour."
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>> i think the fight for 15, what you see is a call for large corporations like mcdonald's like burger king, to step up to the plate, and that it's passed time for these companies to get back to the employees what these employees have given to them. there was a poll done in new york state after the wage board was done, and about 70% of folks in new york state said they would support -- that they do support a raise in the minimum wage to $15 an hour. and they wouldn't mind paying a little bit more money for a big mac or some fries to make sure that the workers that work in the stores were making a living wage or they can keep a roof over their head, foot in their mouth, and close on their back. backs.hes on their once again, you see overwhelming support not only for the $15 minimum wage, but also for even
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having to pay a little bit more money in order to make sure workers can get off state assistance. host: tim sherk. guest: it is one thing if you're talking about a little increase in prices, but that is not what would happen. year put out a report last , put in my name and fast food prices in google and it should pop up. it typical fast food restaurant would have to raise their prices 40%. who is paying that bill? it is not the so-called 1%. you are primarily talking about lower income and middle income families. it is an enormous price increase. that was analyzing who bears the price increases when the minimum wage goes up, that is how the businesses adjust, their costs go up, they have to charge more. and it hits lower income families and middle income families have your than it hits
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higher income families -- have your than it hits. -- heavier than it hits higher income families. on net, it is a transfer away from lower income families towards middle and upper income families. raising prices is not a way to boost prosperity across the economy. host: this is a carver township in new jersey, frank, good morning. caller: good morning. this all started back in 1938 when the wage labor act was passed. between 1938 and 1950, it had risen 300%. , we were at $1.40 an hour as a minimum wage. at that point in time, a kid working in a fast 40%.
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they can't afford to buy insurance for their car because the car is so expensived. a used car now, a decent one, $7,000. a decent one when i was a kid in '65. $150. if you do the math and you look at the way wages have grown over the years, they're not keeping up with inflation at all. >> frank makes a good point. thanks for calling, frank. cnn money looked at that gap between inflation adjusted wage he was talking about the mid-'60s and there's the real spike there.
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at the peak, the adjusted minimum wage was ten bucks an hour in the early 1970s. right now it's $7. there's no adjustment for inflation. let me hear from james. >> this is one of those cases where the devil is in the details and the detail is how do you adjust for inflation? the congressional budget office and the federal reserve board both use an inflation measure called the personal consumption expenditures price index. they use it because it's a more accurate measure. there's another measure of inflation that's more widely known called the consumer price index which is what we adjust tax brackets and social security payments for inflation with. it has biases that make it overreport inflation but congress doesn't want those changed because if you change that it would mean lower social security payments and higher taxes. something that's unpopular across the board. but economic experts say the pce is more accurate. if you use that, which is what the congressional budget office did in their report, i'd encourage anyone to google the
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report on the minimum wage, look on the front cover, they have the inflation adjustment. the all time high came in 1968 at about $8.50 an hour. if we're talking about $15 an hour, we're talking about doubling the historical all time high we've ever had in the united states. doesn't sound like a good idea to me in a down economy. >> tell us about your typical fast food worker dealing with inflation. >> if you want to talk to a lot of our fast food workers, a lot of them are couch surfing, they stay on different relatives and friends' couches, a lot are homeless. a lot stay in homeless shelters, a lot of them sleep in their cars. sometimes it's five and six of them that stay in apartments. most of them don't receive raises, they work in these stores. we have workers who worked in fast food for ten years and still make $7.25. we have workers who worked at the same store and still make
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$7.25. so i've worked that the store for five years and i make $7.25. someone else just came in the door, they make $7.25. and you know the whole time these companies are making more and more money and now what you see happening is low-wage workers, not just fast food workers. fast food workers, convenience store workers, home care workers, they come in together and not only are they raising wages through mobilizing and being in the streets and protesting and striking, now they realize their voting power and realize that almost half the country is in a position where they're making less than $15 an hour which means they're struggling. so people's experience with inflation is everything is going up except wages and now wages are going up because workers are taking to the street about it. >> let's go to atlanta and hear from archie on our democrats' li line.
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>> caller: i want to say these corporations are making a lot of money on people, have been for years, but nobody has said anything about this and that is the social effect of the low wages. i mean, a parent that has two or three kids, he can't really survive on what they're paying paid today and it's hard for a man. as a result of that, our kids are being left out there in the streets doing all kinds of things because the parents aren't at home with them helping to raise them. that's what i wanted to say to them. thank you. >> to our republican line and james in albany, california. >> caller: yes, hello. thanks for taking my call. i've been listening to the minimum wage that you've been discussing for a haar hour now and i think it should go up. how can people survive? how can they pay a mortgage? how can they have a new car? i went back to school and i have an education. this is my first time calling
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you, i'm nervous. and i think we should give a break. i was thinking $100 every 50 minutes and i could have what i wanted. before that i was making hardly anything and i hardly had anything. i see people sleeping in bags in the streets and i was almost joining them. now i'm 60 years old, you wouldn't believe it but i have three kids. and i've been placed on disability with a back injury. now i'm worried about income and where money is going to come in and i got ahead and i'm worried again. but my daughter told me when she got her job recently at a county hospital is that she doesn't understand why the illegal immigrants or people that doesn't have i.d. get free medications. >> james in california james here in washington with with the heritage foundation. historically how much has the minimum wage been part of the
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economic discussion? why are we seeing now, for example, this push not only by mr. fell's group but others to boost the minimum wage a fairly substantial amount? >> well, historically the minimum wage has been something that doesn't affect terribly many people in the economy. it's an entry level wage whereas with experience most people -- not everyone, there are, in fact, people who do get stuck there -- but the vast majority of people start out at minimum wage and move their way up. the reason we're seeing a push is because a number of major unions such as mr. fell's employer, the service employees international union, has spent a lot of money to make this an issue. seiu has been organizing the protests. when you look at the number of workers involved, you're looking at a few hundred workers out of overall fast food employment of several million. that's not all that much. so i tip my hat to them as a very successful pr effort but the reason this is an issue is because money is being spent by organized labor as part of an
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organizing drive in order to make this an issue. >> the washington examiner writing about the spending of that $23 million quotes the president of the international franchise association saying the spending, the effort towards the $15 minimum wage and to boost the minimum wage would "only hurt workers the union says it wants to represent." this is from the head of the franchise association. what's your reaction? >> nobody knows what these workers need better than these workers. these workers started going on strike back in 2012. these workers have put their lives on the line, they have put their jobs on the line, they have been arrested, they've gone to chicago. there have been thousands and thousands of workers that have shown up at events so it's a little bit laughable to hear someone say that there's a couple hundred strikers where there's been conventions with thousands of workers at it who have gone on strike. the reason income inequality is a top issue in this country is because low wage workers made it
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the top issue in the country. if you go back to 2012, the conversations were around austerity, they were around budget cuts, they were around political deadlock. now the conversations are about low wage workers and companies who make too much money and that it's time for workers to be able to get a livable wage where they can be able to support their families. if you work 40 hours a week working full time, you should be able to afford a roof over your head, food in your mouth and clothes on your back. you should have dignity on the job. the fight for 15 movement has changed this country. the reason we're having this debate is because workers have been so courageous and once again i think the facts speak for themselves. a lot of the points being made here are moot because when you look at places like birmingham, places like kansas city, places like seattle, chicago, even in the heartland is wages are being raised, minimum wages are being raised $3, $4, $5, $6.
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the minimum wage in kansas city was $7.65 and raised to $15 because of the workers striking to fight for it. >> you told us in terms of fast food worker the age was 28. what's typical tenure? how long does the average worker work at a fast food establishment or in that business? >> i would say the average worker floats around low wage jobs so you will have a fast food worker who's been a worker for three years but they were also a home care worker, they also worked at a duane reade or cvs. kind of floating around to these low-wage jobs which pretty much all keep them in poverty. >> let me get a response from james. >> well, one of the things i find fairly interesting in the rhetoric from a lot of unions is that they're talking about dignity demands $15 an hour. but when you look at the actual ordnances that get passed, chicago was one, there's a carveout for unionized businesses so the chicago minimum wage says you have to get at least $13 an hour. unless you're in a unionized facility. you saw the same thing with
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seattle tacoma. $15 an hour. the union is trying to get in the los angeles. and what a lot of unions have done is used this as an organizing tool where they can go to employers and say "well, you've now got to pay $15 an hour, unless you're unionized. wouldn't you like to be unionized? then you can hire workers for less." and if you truly believe this is about dignity to workers, why would there be a carveout for union members? we saw in long beach, california, the unions before $15 county wide was applied to just hotels. there will be two major hotels that unite here that could not persuade the workers to join the union. shortly after that $15 an hour when the carveout went through, hotel management decided they wanted to be unionized and those contracts have never been made public. the press has asked for them, they have not been handed out. but there's a trostrong suspici the unions wanted to be uni
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unionized is that the unions say "you don't have to pay it if you bring it in." >> we have a special line set aside for minimum wage workers. if you're making federal minimum wage or local or state minimum wage 202-748-8003. harriet, you're in maryland making the minimum wage. how much is that? >> i believe right now it's $7.45. >> tell us about your experience and what you're hearing in our conversation. >> well, i'm going to tell you my concern. because there is going to be more competition in jobs. i'm also an older worker. and there's credits given, i'm not sure what. but i know when you fill out your application they give credit, the government give credits for if you've ever been on welfare and if -- for certain things they give the employer credits. they lower the wage for those people. and we're already in competition. we're getting older, we can't
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hear as well. we can't see as well and we can't compete as well so i'm wondering why we can't get a credit for older people that have to work, we can't live on social security. we didn't even get a raise this year. >> let's get a quick reaction to her experience from kendall fells. >> i agree. we had some politicians down in florida that took what the workers called the minimum wage challenge which was eventually politicians trying to live off the weekly salary of a low-wage worker and i think what that what we saw was that politicians began to sympathize and empathize with where workers were coming from when they had to go to the grocery store and make decisions based off of what food was the least expensive versus, you know, food that may be the best for you or the healthiest poor or best-tasting food. i think people's experience on a
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day to day hour by hour basis is that it's hard to survive. who can survive off of $7.25 an hour or $8 an hour or $9 or $10 for that matter? workers need $15 just to be able to get by and get off state assistance and i don't think taxpayers want to continue to keep footing this bill. that's why the movement has been successful. >> let me ask you about a comment on twitter who says minimum wage workers are invariably on food assistance meaning corporate profits or subsidize bid the taxpayer. going back to what our worker there in maryland had to say. >> this is something where the economists on kendall's side of the aisle disagree. you can look at jason fuhrman, the council of economic advisors and they agree that the existence of these food stamp programs and the like and the various government welfare programs force employers to pay slightly higher wages. there's two possible models of
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wages you can have in the world. you could imagine that walmart and mcdonald's and employers are kind and compassionate corporate citizens who want their employees to have a standard of living and the government kicks in more than they will and feel they that need to pay less or they're basically amoral. not immoral but amoral and setting wages based on supply and demand. everyone agrees it's the latter. what does do these government benefits do to supply and demand? they don't have much effect on demand. there's a slight in effect terms of reducing supply. people might be willing to work part time instead of full time because they've got benefits and if you don't have anything coming in you have to eat if you've got the -- you have to work if you do have benefits coming in there's not as much pressure so economists debate whether there's a large effect or small effect in labor supply. everyone agrees these government programs reduce labor supply. as a result mcdonald's and walmart have to pay slightly higher wages because of the existence of food stamps. this is an a point one of the
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academic champions of calling for higher wages has made in his own research. it's something even liberal economists agree it's a talking point but not correct. >> james sherk has been researching economic policy since 2006. kendell fells, the executive director with the push for fight for 15, also an seiu representative. the conversation is about raising the minimum wage. about 15 more minutes of your phone calls. 202-748-8000 for democrats, 8001 for others, 8002 for independents. the line for minimum wage earners is 8003. orange, connecticut, next up. good morning to linda. >> good morning. i'm coming at this equation from a middle-class property owner and this is why it can't be left to the state. states like california and new york, new jersey, connecticut
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reach between 65 cents and 75 cents back to the state for every federal tax dollar paid. this means that the property owners, the middle-class who have long been suffering from trickle-up poverty have to pay more to keep our roads, schools, our homeless sheltered, uninsured insured, our school lunches. states like texas, mississippi, florida are getting way more than a dollar for every dollar of federal income tax they pay. now, their states are reducing their taxes, reducing their minimum wages and their corporations moved down from the blue states, they move to the red states because the corporations get the subsidies from the taxpayers. the taxpayers are federal, they are not state by state.
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blue states have long been subsidizing red states. corporations are moving to red states. the reason why is because there is no parity in the federal income -- minimum wage. it can not be a state-by-state decision because the federal tax dollars are doled out on a 50-state basis. >> james sherk you were saying that you believe the minimum wage should be left to localities. what do you think about what linda had to say. >> well, she's simply incorrect on the economics. the existence of these welfare programs forces companies to pay slightly not a lot but slightly higher wages than they would otherwise. in fact i've seen people like jason fuhrman use that as an argument for why we don't want to -- if you try to do things like a living wage and use those redistributive programs instead. but she's simply incorrect on the economics there. now if she wants to discuss cutting federal spending, i am
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certainly in favor of a smaller federal government with less of a fiscal footprint and i would hardly agree with her on that. but in terms of the economics, she's incorrect there. >> let's hear from pensacola florida, eric, independent line. go ahead. >> caller: good morning, gentlemen. >> good morning. >> >> caller: during the course of this, i took notes but i've changed my ideas a bit. i think the major point we're looking at is that people are talking about the symptoms. mr. kendall makes some emotional points about people having tough times and that is true but i'd like to -- my idea looking at how honest someone is in talking about their position is whether or not they can debate the other side. for example, i'd be interested to see both sides flip their views and see mr. kendall debate against the $15 an hour. let him prove his points by making the other guy's points less. but i'm on the heritage side but i think maybe these quick little points about the minimum wage
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and the other issues, it's all part of the fundamental transformation of america. so when people are poor, when they don't have medical care and this other stuff, like this lady says, she's using the bad example of the federal government taking more money from new jersey and new york and what have you and supposedly it's so unfair. now we're looking for our hand in the cookie jar, who will give us the most money. it's the united states of america, not the federal states of america so there's no discussion about how the actions by these minimum wage people -- i drive minimum wage -- i used to work minimum wage, most of them are out smoking during their breaks. how much does a pack of cigarettes cost? how many high school dropouts? how many had kids? how many live off convenience foods? . look at their choice of careers. people make choices when they're younger and now they have to live with them and mr. kendall i think you're living in a fantasy world where you think you can force everybody else to pay for what you think is -- like, for example, if you've gone to a fast food place, why don't you
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give people extra money yourself, take it out of your pocket. >> a lot on the plate of kendall fells but kendall fells, we'll give you a chance to respond to what he had to say. >> look, i don't think politician, governors, city council members, the owners of these large private companies, i don't think they're raising wages because it's bad for the economy and bad for their bottom line, obviously they're raising wages because it's good for their bottom line because they know the more money put into the pockets of low-wage workers that's more money that will be spent and that's the way to get the economy back on track. i think that -- i just think the facts speak for themselves. you know, if this wasn't the right thing to do and this didn't make sense and it didn't connect then this movement wouldn't have started off with 200 fast food workers in new york city in 2012 and just on november 10 we had the largest strike that we've had so far, the 270 cities across the u.s. with workers from almost every
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low-wage industry. this movement has connected with low wage workers. these low-wage workers are a huge voting block, they have the ability to swing elections across the country. they've already shifted the ground in this country, the actual ground that politicians operate from, the ground has been shifted to the left. wages are already being raised. companies are stepping up coming to the table voluntarily raising wages. i don't think any of this is happening -- these people are not dumb, i don't think any of this is happening because it's going to have a negative affect on their company or economy or people wouldn't do it. governors wouldn't -- a governor like governor cuomo wouldn't come out on something that didn't make sense. i think the people and the voters have spoken and politicians are following behind them. consumers have spoken now companies are following behind them is and we see the trend in this country headed towards higher wages and essentially a new wage floor that's much
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higher that will shift wages in the country upwards. >> we're taking comments on the minimum wage. a tweet from mike, and you can tweet us @c-spanwj. he says "the $15 minimum wage was never intended to be a living wage. learn a skill and truly earn your wage." now we'll go to our minimum wage line. it's nashville, georgia, this is earl. good morning. >> caller: c-span, how are you doing? >> doing fine, thanks. >> caller: i am a minimum wage workers, 58 years old and a veteran also and i can say a lot about minimum wage. is i learned a lot about politics, talking about politics and how people operate are politics. number one i think if you look at minimum wage and go back down to the '60s, you are making the same thing you're making now. you're making the same thing. we have people that have jobs 25 miles round trip to go to work, $7 an hour, paid every two
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weeks, what are they going to live off? that's the reason why the united states have so many people on welfare today. that's why they're going to all these free food places. the reason why is because these companies are making money. they don't want to pay you their money. but they'll send the same money overseas to pay for something we are not winning than to take time to congratulate the worker that they have. i think that's wrong. >> caller: earl, can you tell us what kind of work you do and how long have you been earning the minimum wage. you say you're 68 now. >> >>. >> caller: i'm 58. i do security. >> and how long have you been doing that? >> caller: i've been doing that about eight years. carle. >> have you not gotten a raise above minimum wage? >> caller: nothing above minimum wage and they cut our hours to 32 hours when obamacare came into play, they cut it 32 hours when obamacare came to into play.
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>> let's hear from our guests the reaction to what he's experiencing. >> caller: well, >> well, he highlights one of the problems with the affordable care act forcing companies to cut their hours. there's no doubt people are in a difficult situation. the economy hasn't been doing well and we want to help them, but we want measures that will effective. last time we raised the minimum wage, studies found the incomes of the earners went down because of job losses. it hurt them. a much better approach would be to directly address cost of living through taking on regulations that are driving up housing prices. if we fix zoning laws so they weren't trying to hold down housing supply the average wenter would pay 10% less for their house. if we were to change these new cafe standard regulations and the auto dealer monopolies a new car and by implication a used car would drop about 15% in price. the federal milk marketing orders are a cartel for the milk industry. that adds 50 cents to the cost of a gallon of milk. the ethanol mandate raises food
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costs, we're taking 40% of the u.s. corn crop and turning it into an environmentally harmful and inefficient fueled aive the. if we got rid of that and we're using that for food instead the average americans' food bill would drop by $250 annually. i think if we were to directly add dretsds these problems it would be beneficial for all americans, whether on a fixed income, whether on disability insurance, whether a low income worker rather than a measure that would cause people to lose their jobs and be in a worse position. >> kendall fells, what did you hear from earl's experience? the same experience that we have with the majority of workers involved in this movement, trying to figure out how to get to work. a lot of workers are spending more than half their check just getting back and forth to work never mind how to pay their bills. and when we're talking about addressing this issue directly, i would say the fight for 15 is directly addressing this issue.
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you see wages being raised across the country. you see politicians stepping up to the plate. you see private companies. so to the point of losing jobs, facebook raised their pay to $15, looks like people still have their jobs. aetna raised their pay to $15, people still have their jobs. amalgamated bank raised their pay to $15, people still have their jobs. companies aren't making more money, they were already making money. now these companies are deciding because yorkers have been in the street, because demand is lo so loud, because the voting block is so large now companies are stepping to the table because they're listening to consumers. now politicians are stepping to the table so once again the facts speak for themselves. i don't think the city council in l.a. would raise wages if it was going to have a negative effect on the economy. i don't think governor cuomo would do that statewide, not just new york city but throughout the state of new york if it had a negative effect on the economy. >> here's a quick snapshot of some of the wage increases that happened nationwide.
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this is bloomberg's hr and payroll blog. they write faced with a federal minimum wage unchanged more states and municipalities have created their own wage requirements. they write as of january 1, 2015, 29 states and the district of columbia have minimum wages greater than the federal hourly minimum wage of $7.25 and 26 of them and the district increase the wage since january 1, 2014. let's get a couple more calls. we go to new jersey, tom on our republican line. welcome. >> caller: good morning. my concern with the -- this -- the recommendation of mr. fells is that it's almost like another big government program and it makes me think of another great society which has done nothing good -- i shouldn't say that. but in the big picture has not advanced the cause of the people
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they're trying to help. we've put a tremendous amount of dollars into that and what's it's done is keep down the potential, the flourishing for this population. so you raise the minimum wage, in effect it does the same thing, there's no striving to get out of that life-style. >> okay, we'll hear from robert in n greenville, north carolina. we'll give you a chance to respond. greenville, north carolina, it's robert on the independents line. >> caller: yes, sir, the gentleman from the heritage foundation made a roark that raising the minimum wage to $15 would make the cost of product go up 30% to 40%. that's not a fact, that's a lie. is it would be 3% to 5% which i would be more than happy to pay that 3% to 5% to let people have a living wage. also corporations, large corporations are against this, not small businesses. small businesses bit

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