Our friend and Ohio conservative activist Rachel Mullen of Third Base Politics had a very interesting encounter with some Hillary Clinton supporters at the Summit County Democratic Party headquarters in Akron this week. They were holding an anti-Trump event where the many admirable qualities of Secretary Clinton were being highlighted as a preferable alternative. One of the speakers was small business owner Gwen Rosenberg, the operator of an ice cream and sweets shop with less than a dozen employees. Standing behind a sign reading “TRUMP’S PLAN: LOSE 3.5 MILLION JOBS” she spoke favorably about how much better for America Ms. Clinton would be.
In an unfortunate jolt to her world view, Ms. Rosenberg ran into Rachel after the event and was asked specifically how her own small business would fare under Clinton’s plan to increase the minimum wage to fifteen dollars per hour. Rachel wrote up the results at Third Rail Politics and the interview provides some grim humor on the disconnect between Democratic policies and the people they most directly impact.
Small business owner Gwen Rosenberg endorsed Hillary Clinton at a press conference earlier today at the Summit County Democratic Party headquarters. She did so behind a sign stating that Republican nominee Donald Trump would cost Americans 3.5 million jobs. Rosenberg owns Popped!, a local popcorn, candy and ice cream shop in Kent. She has nine part-time employees, many of whom are high school students.
Although Rosenberg supports Clinton, she does not support the Democratic nominee’s plan to raise minimum wage to $15 an hour. Rosenberg says a position at Popped! is the first job for most of her employees and paying them a $15 minimum wage would not be sustainable under her current business plan.
When asked if Clinton’s plan would impact her company, Rosenberg made it clear she opposed the plan.
Check out the video of Rachel’s interview with Ms. Rosenberg. You can see the mental disconnect taking hold as she tries to balance her support for Hillary with the fact that the starter jobs for students and young workers which she’s proud to offer simply don’t line up with a “living wage.”
“Yes, yes. I know for certain that it would,” she said. “And part of it too is that I really enjoy the fact that we’re a great first job for young people. So we participate in some workplace sponsorship programs and things like that. I worry a little bit that it would narrow who we’re paying $15 an hour.”
“So hiring like a new person, like a brand new person at $15 an hour, would be something that we would have to alter who we hired, and what maybe their level of experience was,” she said. “As it is now, we put a lot of effort into kind of hiring a lot of kids without any experience.”
The irony here is that Rosenberg is making precisely the same arguments that conservatives have been putting forward all through the “Fight for Fifteen” battle. Many of the jobs where workers earn the minimum wage are simply starter jobs where young workers earn some extra cash for school and/or get their foot in the door and an entry on their resume so they can move on to something more substantial later. They were never intended to be “careers” for anyone and their employers frequently operate under a business model with frequent employee turnover and relatively low requirements. And yet Ms. Rosenberg is out there supporting the candidate who will move to collapse that system around her ears.
Rachel commented on the disconnect when I asked her about it.
People are so wrapped up in partisanship that they are failing to actually explore the issues. Taking things at face value and accepting talking points aren’t going to help your bottom line. When we look deeper at the candidates, we can see how policies actually impact us.
This business owner threw her support behind Hillary, stating that the Democratic nominee would be good for her business. Minutes later, when confronted with a simple question about an important plank in the progressive platform, she realized that this would have serious implications for her business and her employees.
The local press failed to ask this business owner a pretty straightforward question regarding the impact her preferred candidate would directly have upon her business. If the press held people on the left up to the same scrutiny as they to do people on the right, perhaps we could get true examples of how these policies will affect us.
It’s just another day in the life of a presidential campaign. We have activists out in the streets arguing in favor of someone who is promising to deliver programs which fundamentally damage their own self-interests. At least in Ms. Rosenberg’s case she’s aware of the issue and the damage which is coming. How she squares that with her political views is another matter entirely.