POLITICS

Sean Duffy, Tea Party Congressman, Drives Away From Minimum Wage Question

07/18/2012 07:48 am ET | Updated Jul 18, 2012

As part of its mission to topple Tea Party Republicans across the country, the San Francisco-based CREDO SuperPac confronted Rep. Sean Duffy about the minimum wage in a Wausau, Wis., parking lot.

As Duffy walked to his car following a meeting with the Wausau Daily Herald's editorial board on Monday, 73-year-old Wausau resident Wayne Olson started hollering, "Mr. Duffy, when are you going to hold your next town hall meeting?"

As he got into his car, Duffy said, "We said we're going to do one every year, and we've done that. So if you want to come set up an appointment in my office, we'd be happy to have you come on by."

Olson leaned over and tried to ask Duffy -- through a rolled-up window -- if he would vote for a bill to raise the minimum wage, but the first-term congressman drove away.

The scene was captured by a CREDO SuperPac videographer. Olson said he volunteers for CREDO and Wisconsin Jobs Now, a local coalition of labor groups that has staged protests against Wisconsin Republicans before.

“I'm sure Mr. Olson is a nice guy, but CREDO is a liberal San Francisco based Super PAC intent on pulling stunts and nothing more," Duffy spokesman John Gentzel said in an email. "If they’d really like to set up a discussion on the minimum wage, I'd encourage constituents to call our district office, schedule a meeting and come in to discuss their issues. We'd be happy to have a policy discussion."

The federal minimum wage stands at $7.25 an hour (some states have set higher minimum wages). A handful of Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives have recently advocated boosting the federal minimum wage to $10 per hour. And in the Senate, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) wants to increase the minimum wage 35 percent and peg it to changes in the cost of living.

Neither proposal has support from party leaders, however. President Barack Obama abandoned a 2008 campaign pledge to increase the minimum wage, and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney flip-flopped on whether he thought it would be a good idea.

Olson said he is currently retired, but that he worked low-wage jobs all his life. "I was a meat cutter and I worked at a concrete plant and at different manufacturing plants," Olson said. "When I was a security guard, I made minimum, and when I was a janitor, I made minimum wage ... Even when I was working in union jobs, I was paid poorly."

As for Duffy, Olson figures his congressman is not all that interested in the minimum wage.

"He doesn't support anything that has to do with the common person," Olson said. "He supports big businesses with tax breaks."

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