Cathy Reisenwitz

Kristen Bell. You were so great as sassy, wisecracking teen detective in Veronica Mars. And I teared up right along with you about sloths on the Ellen Show. But while your Mary Poppins spoof to pump up support for raising the minimum wage was definitely cute and well-produced, it was a little fact-challenged.

Bell’s argument, made in rhyme, boils down to: raise the minimum wage three bucks to bump all workers over the poverty line. Seems simple, doesn’t it? And appealing. Who doesn’t want fewer people living in poverty? Who could object to a “living wage?” But in politics, the simplest answer isn’t always the best one. (Which is a good enough reason on its own to hate politics.)

Raising the minimum wage only works to alleviate poverty if two things are true. First, it must be true that low wages, and not unemployment, is the biggest factor in poverty. Second, it must be true that raising the minimum wage does not, in fact, lead to decreased employment.

Unfortunately for Bell, and us, neither is true. Wouldn’t it be nice if the Democratic narrative on the minimum wage were even closely aligned with reality. All we’d have to do is fight those greedy CEOs who don’t want to have to pay their workers more and pass a law to raise the federal minimum wage $3 and *poof* millions of people are boosted above the poverty line and are finally able to enjoy a living wage.

The reality is quite different. CEOs actually love to raise the minimum wage, and actively lobby for it. Walmart, that liberal boogeyman, supports raising the minimum wage. As does Starbucks. Costco too. Samefor McDonald’s. Muh narrative! Why? "McDonald's will be fine," CEO Don Thompson reportedly told Northwestern. "We'll manage through whatever the additional cost implications are."


Cathy Reisenwitz

Cathy Reisenwitz is a Young Voices Associate and a D.C.-based writer and political commentator.