RUSH: The media wants you to see this as, “Can Obama revive his sagging poll numbers? Can Obama successfully make an end run around the Congress? Can Obama use the power of the office and executive powers and executive orders to move his agenda forward? Can Obama thumb the Republicans in the eye? Can he finally just tell the Republicans to leave?” That’s the interest that the media has in this.
As always, “Can Obama revive what are considered to be plummeting fortunes? Can Obama save the liberal agenda? Can Obama overcome the mean-spirited, extremist, racist Republicans in the House of Representatives and make this the nation we all know it should have been when it was founded?” Let’s go back listen some audio sound bites. Let’s go back to February 12th, 2013, just a little shy of a year ago. Last year’s State of the Coup address. Here is a portion of what Obama said…
OBAMA 2013: Tonight, let’s declare that in the wealthiest nation on earth, no one who works full time should have to live in poverty and raise the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour.
RUSH: There it is. The old, trusty minimum wage and the old, trusty, “We are a nation of inequality and unfairness.” And there it is, the false premise that people live in poverty because of the minimum wage. Another false premise is that there is poverty because of inequality. The minimum wage has nothing to do with poverty. Inequality is not the reason for poverty. The government is the reason for poverty. The welfare state is it the reason for poverty. We began a War on Poverty in 1964.
It was first led by the president of the day, Lyndon Johnson.
Since that day, we have effectively had redistribution of wealth to the tune of nearly $20 trillion, somewhere between $15 trillion and $20 trillion, and we still have the same percentages of people in poverty and below the poverty line that we had when we started. Expressed as percentages, we haven’t made a dent. Now, why? How can this be? We have essentially, folks, been giving people $50,000 a year. It hasn’t worked out that way because of the administrative costs, but we have effectively been spending that kind of money.
Why haven’t we raised people out of poverty? It’s the welfare state. Do you realize the welfare state, wherever it’s been tried, in the history of the world, it’s never worked. If your definition of working is removing people from poverty, making them self-sufficient, making them self-reliant, and getting them off of the dependency rolls and taking care of themselves, do you realize that using that as the definition of working, no welfare state ever has. What welfare states succeed in doing is keeping in power those who are in charge of them, those who run them.
The welfare state puts the brakes on human advancement, human ambition, human desire, human education, human self-reliance, human self-sufficiency, and human achievement. The welfare state prevents all of that from happening by becoming or making possible total dependence on the state, which requires no ambition, no education, no desire, no upward mobility, nothing. All you have to do is be a sponge. As such, the welfare state is one of the worst things that can happen to a country. It’s one of the meanest things a country can do to its people.
However, in the current iteration the welfare state’s cloaked in compassion. The welfare state exists because people are in poverty because of Republicans and conservatives. It’s because Republicans and conservatives are so mean and rich, and the Republicans and conservatives have taken all the money. They’ve taken the money from the poor, and they continue to exploit them. And if it weren’t for welfare, the poor would have nothing, ’cause the rich would take it. The Republicans would take everything they’ve got and give it to their rich buddies. I mean, that’s what passes for political explanation today to the low-information voter. When in fact the welfare state is destructive because it assumes that nobody receiving benefits is capable of doing anything.
“Mr. Limbaugh, are you saying that this country should never provide for the people who are less fortunate?”
No. We’re a compassionate country and people, and we have always provided for people who are genuinely incapable of helping themselves for whatever reason, but we have not supported expanding the opportunities and reasons for the lack of self-reliance. We count and define compassion by counting the number of people no longer needing welfare. The Democrats define compassion by adding up all the people who get it and saying, “Look at us; aren’t we great people?” There hasn’t been a welfare state that worked as it’s been advertised by people trying to sell it to a society, ever, in world history.
It can’t. It simply cannot work. Never has. It never will. And here comes the president tonight essentially suggesting we need a bigger one, that we’ve got poverty ’cause we need to raise the minimum wage. We need to raise the minimum wage ’cause we haven’t raised the minimum wage enough. People aren’t making enough and because of that there’s poverty. That was President Obama last year. Let’s go back to 1995. January 24th, 1995, let’s listen to Mr. Hope and Change of that era.
CLINTON: The goal of building the middle class and shrinking the underclass is also why I believe that you should raise the minimum wage. (applause) It rewards work. Two and a half million Americans, two and a half million Americans, often women with children, are working out there today for four and a quarter an hour. In terms of real buying power, by next year, that minimum wage will be at a 40-year low. That’s not my idea of how the new economy ought to work.
RUSH: I play these two sound bites just to illustrate for you that the Democrats are peddling the same tired, worn-out, meaningless, worthless idea forever. Inequality, class warfare, raise the minimum wage. They’ve been in power for most of these years and they’ve done all of this. Can somebody show me where the people in this country in the welfare state or who earn the minimum wage are any better off because the Democrat Party has been in charge?
RUSH: So you heard in the clip, last year Barack Obama demanding to raise the minimum wage to nine dollars an hour to eliminate poverty. I have to ask the question, “How?” In doing show prep this morning I noted that Obama just said, screw it, I’m gonna raise the minimum wage for federal workers to $10.10 an hour. (interruption) What? Federal contractors, federal contractors, just raise it by fiat. He’s just gonna announce that he’s raising the minimum — does the president get to do that? Contractors. So the president can just take a certain segment of people that do work for the federal government and arbitrarily determine what they’re gonna be paid, on his own?
Some of the congressmen are saying he can do that. Yeah, I was gonna say he doesn’t have the power to do it unless nobody stops him. It’s the same old answer. Well, he can cut their pay, but he’s not gonna cut federal pay. But that’s not the point. The point is he’s gonna do it by fiat. I didn’t know that the president single-handedly could determine anybody doing work for the federal government could have their salaries or their rate of pay changed by him by fiat. But apparently he doesn’t care. He’s just gonna do it anyway. Wanted nine bucks a year ago. Now $10.10.
RUSH: Here’s Dan in Clark Summit, Pennsylvania. Great to have you on the EIB Network. Hi.
CALLER: Hey, Rush. Thank you for taking my call.
RUSH: You bet.
CALLER: It’s an honor to speak with you.
RUSH: You bet.
CALLER: Rush, I just want to say, this minimum wage issue? I see coming down the line they’re gonna be out there appealing to everyone’s emotion. They want to raise the minimum wage and if you’re against it, then you hate poor people. The thing is, Milton Friedman, the Nobel Prize-winning economist, always said, “No single law has caused more poverty or hurt more people than the minimum wage law because what it does is it officially prices unskilled labor out of the workforce.” So I think the Republicans need to call Obama’s bluff. I think that we should say that we want to raise it to $30 or $50 or something ridiculous, and let them explain why we shouldn’t.
RUSH: Well, you know, I have often used that very trick in discussion with leftists and Democrats. And what happens is this. You eventually will get to a dollar figure minimum wage per hour that even they will say, “No, that’s too much,” and at that point, you’ve got ’em.
CALLER: Exactly. Exactly my point.
RUSH: You say, “If $25 an hour is okay, why is $50 too high?” “Well, you can’t pay somebody doesn’t know what they’re doing $50 an hour!” At some point, it doesn’t matter. It changes from person to person. But right now Obama is pushing for, what, a $10 an hour minimum wage? Why not make it $15, Mr. President?
CALLER: I heard $15. I think it was in Seattle or somewhere they’re passing a law that it has to be $15 an hour.
CALLER: That’s $31,000 a year.
RUSH: Yeah, that’d be good.
“Okay, well, how about $20?”
“Oh, yeah, even better.”
“Well, let’s get serious here. How about $25-an-hour minimum wage?”
Finally you’ll reach a point where they say it’s too much, and at that point you say, “Well, wait a minute. Why is that too much?” And they start explaining, and then you own them. At that point you have won the argument. The minimum wage is artificial and phony and is destructive. But, you know, Milton Friedman was one of my idols, one of those brains I wish I’d had. Unfortunately, what you said at the very beginning in quoting Friedman, that it is the single greatest destructive thing in pricing… How did you describe it? What kind of labor?
CALLER: Unskilled labor, or low-skilled labor.
RUSH: Do you realize how few people understand it? To most people, the minimum wage… The reason the Democrats go back to it and go back to it is because it works at tugging people’s heartstrings. It makes an emotional connection. Everybody wants the poor to have more. Everybody wants the poor to do better.
CALLER: Especially me and you and everyone else.
RUSH: Yeah. So when you —
CALLER: The wrong way to do it is to tell employers, “This is the minimum you can pay someone,” because then if someone’s value as a laborer is less than that number, they cannot be employed, unless it’s through charity.
RUSH: You and I know that, but people don’t look at it that way. They look at minimum wage as a welfare benefit and they look at the business’s unwillingness to pay it as selfishness and greed. I’m probably… I hope I’m wrong about this, but the number of people who even understand… The concept of the way Milton Friedman explains it, it makes total sense.
You know, economics is one of the simplest, most complicated subjects that you can encounter. It is intimidating-ly tough to understand until somebody who understands it can explain it to you logically, and then it all makes perfect sense. The minimum wage, as you say, is basically unskilled, inexperienced labor. Now, we want people like that in the job market because we want them learning, and we want them getting experience.
We want them learning to show up. We want them learning the requirements of responsibility and achievement and following through on the work and advancing. But for the government or any other entity to place an artificial value on that labor is totally gumming up the market. The people that hire those people know what those jobs are worth — and if, as you say, that kind of worker is not worth $10, he’s not gonna be hired.
RUSH: So it’s self-defeating, which perpetuates unemployment, which allows the Democrats to keep coming back to it and to keep portraying business owners as greedy and selfish and unfeeling and no compassion and all of that, and that’s why they benefit from it, is because they play off of people’s lack of understanding of labor, skilled labor, job markets, all these nefarious things. My fear of your theory is if the Republicans suggested to Obama to make it $30, that he’s go for it, that he’d take it just like that (snaps fingers), and come back with, “Why not $40?” and still make the Republicans look like the cheapskates.