The Biggest Lie at the GOP Debate

November 11th 2015

Alex Mierjeski

Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and Marco Rubio said that they oppose raising the minimum wage at Tuesday's fourth GOP debate in Milwaukee.  

When the debate began, moderators wasted no time referencing protesters outside the debate arena (and in 270 cities across the country earlier on Tuesday) demanding a $15 minimum wage and union rights.

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What the candidates said.

"I hate to say it, but we have to leave it the way it is," said Trump, adding that high wages and taxes contribute to the country falling behind on the global stage. 

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The candidates said that raising the minimum wage would hurt the economy and its workers and muddle the upward mobility of low-wage, entry-level jobs. 

"Every time we raise the minimum wage, the number of jobless people increases," claimed Carson. 

Rubio said that a higher minimum wage would create incentives for businesses to increasingly rely on technology instead of manpower because workers are more expensive. 

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Here's the truth about the minimum wage.

Research on each point has called into question the veracity of those arguments.

Increasing the minimum wage will not kill jobs.

One of the most common arguments — that higher wages create job loss — is suspect, according to multiple studies finding that job loss would be negligible, if not non-existent, while spending — and even job growth — could increase due to more cash in employees' pockets. Other analysis of human jobs and industrial robots ordered by U.S. factories discredits fear-mongering about the immediate, encroaching army of job-stealing cyborgs.

Increasing the minimum wage won't increase reliance on government programs.

Another argument that Carson touted—that higher wages, and increased joblessness, would create more dependence on government programs—is undercut by the massive public spending on low-wage workers: about $127.8 billion each year at the federal level, and $25 billion per year at the state level, according to recent research from the University of California, Berkeley

Ben Carson changed his position—he's now against raising the minimum wage.


Ben Carson vs. Ben Carson on the minimum wage.

Posted by ATTN: on Tuesday, November 10, 2015


At least one candidate, Carson, appeared to reverse a previous stance on the minimum wage. In May, the former neurosurgeon said that the federal minimum wage of $7.25 "should be higher than now" in an interview with CNBC. "I don't necessarily blame people for saying, 'Look, I can stay home and make this money, or I can go and work this little chicken job that doesn't have many benefits.'" 


"However, recognize that if you go and take that chicken job, you gain skills, relationships, the possibility of moving up the ladder. So a year or two or five down the road, you're no longer in that position. This is what people have forgotten."  

 The responses received swift pushback on social media.

As workers demonstrated in cities nationwide Tuesday, leading Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Martin O'Malley tweeted out their support of raising the minimum wage to $15.