One thing I noticed over the course of the Democratic National Convention this year (such as it was) was a distinct lack of the “instant fact-checking” that you see every time President Trump approaches a microphone. Normally, when Trump finishes a couple of sentences, networks such as CNN and MSNBC quickly cut away to their desk jockeys who are excitedly Googling up a storm to find any error or alternate analysis to add to their ever-growing list of the President’s “unprecedented number of lies and mistruths” over the course of his administration. You really didn’t see much of that during this event while the Democrats (and a handful of Never Trumper Republicans) were speaking, did you?
But last night, there was something approaching an exception to that media rule. Cory Booker was given his five minutes in the spotlight on the final night of the convention. As usual, he talked about the typical laundry list of Democrat wish list items. Mixed in among all of the promises and sunny visions of a socialist utopia, Booker brought up the traditional stalking horse of a national $15 per hour minimum wage. “Together, with Joe and Kamala in the White House, we’ll raise the minimum wage so no one who works a full-time job lives in poverty,” he said.
Obviously, nobody at the cable news networks cut away to set him straight, but the Associated Press did coast in after the fact and point out that what Booker had described is “an improbable outcome” at best.
THE FACTS: That’s an improbable outcome for the $15 minimum wage supported by Biden.
A 2019 report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour would lift 1.3 million Americans out of poverty, a small fraction of the roughly 38 million people living in poverty in 2018.
Moreover, the report estimated a $15 minimum wage would cost 1.3 million people their jobs because they would be priced out of the market.
Those are some rough numbers for Booker to attempt to square, and that was only the first couple of paragraphs of the analysis. If a $15 per hour minimum wage lifts 1.3 million American workers with full-time jobs above the poverty level, that’s only 3.4% of the full-time workers who are below that threshold. And if the result of this change (as has consistently been predicted) is that an equal number of minimum wage workers will lose their jobs because of the impact on labor costs for employers, is there actually a net benefit?
The AP goes on to point out that not only would millions of full-time workers on the lower end of the pay scale remain in poverty, but none of the ones who primarily work part-time or are fully unemployed (those “unwilling or unable to work”) would rise above the threshold either. Of course, Booker’s comment was directed specifically at full-time workers, so I suppose we can’t hold that part against him.
As for the other speakers, ranging from the nominee and his running mate to the other Democratic celebrities, there usually wasn’t much to fact check. The majority of the remarks were of the breezy variety that were very much short on specifics and heavily tilted toward describing just how Bad the Bad Orange Man is and how everyone must vote like your life depends on it to get rid of him. Why bog down the evening’s itinerary with a bunch of actual solutions for the challenges facing the nation, right?
Where was all the talk of Joe Biden’s promise that the “first thing he would do” would be to raise taxes? Or how about when he promised he would “end fossil fuel” and the millions of jobs the oil and gas industry supports across the country? They could have mentioned his pledge to support the Green New Deal, despite the significant number of Americans who oppose such an extreme plan. And yes, they neglected to promote Uncle Joe’s pledge to end all deportations of illegal aliens and create a pathway to amnesty. And let’s not forget when he said he might even get behind defunding the police in some circumstances.
Just imagine the possibilities. If the AP was willing to fact check Booker on the $15 minimum wage, they could have a field day with the projected outcomes from all of those proposals. But we didn’t hear a peep out of them on those subjects for the most part. You have to wonder why that is.