By Urban Media News
Last Friday, Scott Walker entered the first gubernatorial debate with all the poise you would expect from a career politician, but his polish quickly wore off when asked about the needs of Wisconsin’s working class.
Walker showed just how out-of-touch he his with Wisconsin’s working families when asked about the workers living on the state’s minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.
Debate panelists asked both candidates if they believed a Wisconsin worker could live on $7.25 an hour, and more pointedly, if the state had an obligation to make sure that workers are paid some sort of minimum wage and what that wage should be.
Governor Walker shrugged off the question about the everyday lives of hardworking Wisconsinites, instead repeating campaign talking points about creating well-paying jobs in Wisconsin.
In her rebuttal, Mary Burke made it clear she didn’t think the state’s minimum wage was enough for anyone to live on, and recommitted her support for raising the wage to a modest $10.10 an hour if elected to office, saying, “We have to raise the minimum wage immediately.”
Incredibly, when given a chance to respond, Walker shifted blame to workers, declaring, “We do not have a jobs problem, we have a work problem.”
Imagine a sitting governor, with the ability to raise wages with the just the stroke of his pen, blaming workers for their inability to land I.T. or welding jobs.
Debate panelists rebuked Walker for not answering their questions, and asked directly if Walker believed a worker could live on the minimum wage and if the governor believed there should be some sort of a minimum wage in Wisconsin.
Walker again avoided the question and repeated campaign talking points.
Inability to answer the question shows Walker’s contempt for workers and their daily struggle, and even begs the question if Walker believes in a minimum wage at all.
At a time when adults are working two and three jobs at minimum wages just to provide for their families, Walker is so out of touch he didn’t even say he agreed with a setting a floor for wages, instead recounting his experience as working for minimum wage as a teenager saving for college.
In contrast, Mary Burke made her position very clear, saying “I do not think that people can live on the minimum wage.
That is why I support raising the minimum wage, the money will be spent in the local economy and will create more jobs.”
Since the governor doesn’t seem to understand the importance of the issue for Wisconsin citizens working at minimum wage, let’s be clear about what raising wages for workers really means.
Increasing the minimum wage isn’t an artificial floor that disrupts markets and costs jobs.
Raising the minimum wage means giving workers the ability to climb into the middle class.
More money in the pockets of workers means they can take care of their bills and actually have money left over to participate in Wisconsin’s economy.
Ironically, raising the minimum wage can address one of Scott Walker’s chief concerns: citizen’s dependence on social programs like BadgerCare and Food Share.
In fact, a recent study by the Center on Wisconsin Strategy showed more than half a million Wisconsin workers would benefit from a modest raise in the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.
Workers earning a higher wage are more likely to buy what they need from local businesses and participate in their local economy – something Wisconsin desperately needs in order to turn the state’s economy around. In addition, more money in worker’s hands means the ability to move off government programs created to provide temporary assistance to the neediest, most vulnerable people in our state.
Public polling shows more than half of the state supports raising the minimum wage. Scott Walker is single handedly standing in the way of economic security for working class Wisconsinites.
For workers who proudly donned “ I stand with Walker” stickers and buttons during the recall election, Walker’s vehement opposition to raising the minimum wage shows the governor doesn’t stand with them.