Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., continues her crusade against big financial institutions and businesses, this time tearing apart an argument by a restaurant owner who testified before a Senate panel Thursday that raising the minimum wage would force businesses like his to fire employees. Much like former Labor Secretary Robert Reich did in this video, Warren dismantled that popular right-wing talking point on why the minimum wage should not be increased.
When Warren pointed out during the hearing that McDonald’s could raise its wages to $10.10 an hour simply by increasing the cost of its meals 4 cents, David Rutigliano tried to argue that his full service restaurant doesn’t run the same way.
“McDonald’s has efficiencies and they operate completely differently than I do. I have many jobs, many jobs that pay well above minimum wage,” Rutigliano said. “We have a retirement plan. We offer health insurance to our salaried employees. So my business is a little different. I can’t raise a 4 cent price. I mean I don’t have, I don’t operate like a fast food restaurant. I would hope you appreciate the distinction.”
But Warren wasn’t having any of that. “I do appreciate the distinction and I’m not going to be in the business of being a McDonald’s representative but they would talk about having some higher paid jobs and some opportunities for management and advancement as well,” she responded. “But I get your point, maybe it’s only 4 cents on $7.19. But if your entrees are $14.40 we’ll see how fast I can do the math—are you telling me you can’t raise your prices by 8 cents?”
Warren also noted that wages have not been keeping up with productivity, and if they had, the minimum wage would be about $22 today. That’s $14.75 higher than the actual federal minimum wage.