When a voter went up to Rep. C.W. Bill Young (R-Fla.) on Tuesday and asked him whether he supported raising the minimum wage, the congressman had a simple -- and irrelevant -- bit of advice for the young man: Get a job.
"Jesse Jackson Jr. is passing a bill around to increase the minimum wage to 10 bucks an hour. Would you support that?" said the voter. The exchange was first highlighted by FLDemocracy.
"Probably not," replied Young, adding, "How about getting a job?"
The young man has a job, as he told the congressman: "I do have one." He said he makes $8.50 an hour.
"Well then, why do you want that benefit? Get a job," reiterated Young.
The minimum wage isn't really a "benefit." It's the lowest amount that an employer must pay workers. Despite Young's confusion, it makes complete sense that someone who is earning $8.50 an hour would like to earn more -- say, $10 an hour.
The minimum wage in Florida is $7.67 an hour, which is slightly above the federal level of $7.25.
Rep. Jackson (D-Ill.) and 17 other House Democrats recently proposed legislation that would raise the federal minimum to $10 an hour.
As Pat Garofalo at ThinkProgress explained, "The minimum wage hit its peak buying power in 1968; to have the same buying power today, the minimum wage would have to be $9.92. If the minimum wage had been indexed to the Consumer Price Index since 1968, it would be approximately $10.40 today."
Young's office did not return a request for comment.
UPDATE: 6:33 p.m. -- Jessica Ehrlich, a Democratic candidate who is running against Young to represent Florida's 13th District, responded to the congressman's remarks: "Bill Young is out of touch with what hard working people go through everyday. His comments are a stark reminder of the sad fact that he lost touch with middle class folks years ago."
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