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Brownback's former tax consultant criticizes federal minimum wage as 'black teenage unemployment act'


Art Laffer, the $75,000 consultant who helped shape Gov. Sam Brownback's tax changes, called the federal minimum wage "the black teenage unemployment act."

While on Fox News on Wednesday, Laffer said the minimum wage "makes no sense to me."

He added, "I mean, honestly, it's just the teenage — black teenage unemployment act, and this is the very groups that we need to have jobs and not be put out of work because of the minimum wage."

Laffer argued that more teenagers would be hired if employers could pay them less than the $7.25 federal minimum.

His comments were made during a discussion on the possible extension of unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed.

In 2012, Laffer, who is considered the father of supply-side economics, was hired by the Brownback administration for $75,000 for consulting work on the governor's tax plan.

Laffer championed Brownback's plans to cut income tax rates, eliminate credits and deductions and rely more heavily on the sales tax.

At the time, Laffer also supported Brownback's plan to end the state portion of the Earned Income Tax Credit, which helps low-income, working Kansans. Later, Brownback backed off that proposal.


Steve King 3 months ago

Thanks Betty. That should keep them quite for a while.


Eileen Emmi Jones 3 months ago

This is shockingly racist. Even more shocking is that the consultant felt no shame in making that racist statement.

"Governor Davis" is sounding better to me all the time.


Betty Bartholomew 3 months ago

What is this claptrap that the min wage is meant for teenagers and entry level workers (and by the way, who the heck do you think is doing the work at McDonalds when said teenagers are - supposedly - in class)? From the FLSA, which establishes the minimum wage, page one:

"(a) The Congress finds that the existence ... of labor conditions detrimental to the maintenance of the minimum standard of living necessary for health, efficiency, and general well-being of workers (1) causes ... to spread and perpetuate such labor conditions among the workers of the several States; (2) burdens commerce and the free flow of goods in commerce; (3) constitutes an unfair method of competition in commerce; (4) leads to labor disputes burdening and obstructing commerce...; and (5) interferes with the orderly and fair marketing of goods in commerce. That Congress further finds that the employment of persons in domestic service in households affects commerce. (b) It is declared to be the policy of this chapter, through the exercise by Congress of its power to regulate commerce among the several States and with foreign nations, to correct and as rapidly as practicable to eliminate the conditions above referred to in such industries without substantially curtailing employment or earning power."

In case you missed it, the FLSA is concerned with "labor conditions detrimental to the maintenance of the minimum standard of living necessary for health, efficiency, and general well-being of workers..."

And honing in further, "...maintenance of the minimum standard of living..."

Seeing as how the FLSA deals exclusively with wages and hours and how the FLSA is applied, I think it's entirely fair to say that yes, the minimum wage was intended to provide a minimum standard of living, one which today's minimum wage does not and cannot meet.

When one further includes the stance of FDR, one of the main proponents of the FLSA and the man in charge when it was passed, how can people continue to argue that the minimum wage was not meant as a living wage? Most tellingly, after the passage of NIRA (the failed predecessor to the FLSA), he penned, "It seems to me to be equally plain that no business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country." So no, the minimum wage was not meant to provide a middle class standard of living, but it certainly was meant to lift people out of abject poverty, which today's minimum wage does not and cannot do.

It is unfortunate and infuriating that companies and the politicians those companies have lobbied have managed to turn a vehicle for the betterment of our society into a complete wreck, and even more infuriating and unfortunate that people have fallen for their "minimum wage was never meant to be a living wage" mouth garbage.

FDR links: | |


Kevin Elliott 3 months ago

racially and economically stupid comment, of course he would be a friend of Brownback.


Steve King 3 months, 1 week ago

Lucas; well said.

Maybe if you worked during the Industrial Revolution under the lash of J.P. Morgan, Rockefeller, and Carnegie in their sweat shops you'd be more convinced of the need for government protection of the workers, minimal wage thresholds included.


Lucas Hachmeister 3 months, 1 week ago

It is strange that so many of us equate life circumstances to personal decisions made by the individual. For instance often times I hear people comment on how a poor person deserves to be destitute because of the bad choices they made just like a rich person deserves all that wealth because of the hard work and excellent decision making they employed. This view point is an extreme over simplification of the issue and has very little data to back it up. The reality of our world is that all people's lives are at the mercy of a chaotic and often times brutal system forged throughout many millions of years of random events and natural selection. To judge a person by their lot in life is to ignore all of the circumstances beyond their control that lead them to where they are now. Sure the CEO of a large privately held company has made a number of smart decisions to help him get to where he is in life but this is only part of what got him there. There are always a multitude of factors beyond our control that help us attain success or plunge us into the pit of despair. Many of the very wealthy sole proprietors I have worked for in the past had only achieved success ultimately because of their family's fortune. This factor was completely beyond their control since these fortunes were accumulated prior to their birth and yet it had a huge impact on what level of success they experienced in their lifetime. The hilarious part is I have heard many of these people who came from a very wealthy family attempt to make the case that they somehow had more to do with the level of success they have attained than the millions of dollars that repeatedly bailed them out of foolish investments and failed business endeavors. Of course as their employee I would just hold a straight face and keep working away at the project at hand to ensure that money kept flowing through the door.


Brett McCabe 3 months, 1 week ago

The increased minimum wage is largely necessary because of the near-demise of unions in the country. Unions ensured good wages, benefits and retirement for their members. Now, without them, the electorate must become a union to negotiate, en masse, health benefits (thank you ACA), better wages and fairness in the marketplace.

Interestingly, most large businesses hate unions as much as they hate an increased minimum wage or universal health coverage. And please spare us the "unions almost drove the auto industry out of business" argument. Every time I hear it, I form a mental picture of 5 or 6 line workers at a GM plant sitting across the table from some Harvard MBA's and Georgetown law graduates during the contract negotiations. Those poor, dumb executives getting taken advantage of by those line workers!

Unions saved the American worker. Without them, we'll need to do it ourselves. Raising the minimum wage is only one step of many that needs to be taken.


Steve King 3 months, 1 week ago

Poor life choices? Like being born with a learning disability? As the father of a special needs child I have call you out for your simple minded callousness in that statement. He will have to struggle all his life to try to earn a decent living because of the choices life befell him. And because some heartless CEO won't pay a living wage to their "head count". I've been there and I've heard the same callousness in staff meetings where these titans consider their employees less than common chattel so the statement their earn every penny is a crock.

In Lawrence, they consider $17.50 a minimum living wage. So how is someone to raise a family on less than half that? And then start cutting their benefits because it will force them to go get a job. I keep hearing this and I keep wondering where are these jobs? Currently there are 3 people chasing every 1 job opening. Fundamentally there are no jobs available for 2/3 of these citizens.


Glenda LaRue 3 months, 1 week ago

This minimum wage issue is not about teenagers. It is about people that have to work to support themselves or contribute to their families support. Those are the people who need to have the minimum wages raised . Let every politician and every corporate executive live on minimum wages for a year not touching their own wealth. Then they are qualified to make these changes. Our alternative is voting them out of office. What about our Veterans Keith Richards? Did they also make a bad choice ? They served there country. What did you do?


Michael LoBurgio 3 months, 1 week ago

88.3% of those who would be helped by a minimum wage increase are at least 20 years old.

Restore Kansas Paul Davis for Governor


Richard Heckler 3 months, 1 week ago

Wal- Mart and McDonald's can afford $15.00 per hour. It seems to me CEO wages and their golden parachutes are a drag on corporate budgets and over rate the individuals at the same time.

Robert Reich, who certainly knows a thing or two about labor and economic policy, says it's time for some of the nation's largest employers to start paying their workers a living wage.

In a petition he launched on on August 26, Reich, who served as Secretary of Labor under President Clinton and is also a Huffington Post blogger, urges corporations like McDonald's and Walmart to increase wages so workers can finally "get a fair share in this economy." The petition, which had 6,956 on Thursday afternoon, is to be delivered to McDonalds CEO Don Thompson and Walmart CEO Michael Duke.

“Your typical employee is now earning $8.25 to $8.80 an hour,” Reich states in the petition. “[Walmart and McDonald’s] can easily afford to pay [workers] $15 an hour without causing layoffs or requiring price hikes.”

In the petition, Reich points out that Thompson earned $13.8 million last year, which is 800 times what a typical McDonald’s worker made. Duke's $20.7 million pay package in 2012 was more than 1,000 times what a typical Walmart worker earned.

Watch Reich's full video.


Richard Heckler 3 months, 1 week ago

Raising the minimum wage is not about black people. It is about families being able to sustain themselves without food stamps. Wal-Mart and McDonald's could afford to do this without increasing their store prices. Increased minimum wage would unfortunately create more sales for both giants.

Wal-Mart money is busy closing public schools throughout the USA in hopes of increasing their personal wealth further. A detriment to society.

The more money people make the more they spend and invest.


Steve King 3 months, 1 week ago

Not a racist statement? Are you kidding us? Is that you think? He said nothing about a "subgroup". What he said was:

"I mean, honestly, it's just the teenage — black teenage unemployment act, and this is the very groups that we need to have jobs and not be put out of work because of the minimum wage."

So only black teenagers make minimum wage? What a crock. And 30% of minimum wage earners are over the age of 24? I call foul. Isn't most of Walmart minimum wage? And then they educate their employees on how to apply for food stamps!

The minimum wage keeps the vultures from paying people next to nothing for low skill positions. Unfortunately not everyone can be a rocket scientist and as pay scale follows one's skill set some are less fortunate and need a minimum substance to just exist.


Beer Guy 3 months, 1 week ago

I think Laffer makes a point. Heck at 3 cents an hour I can afford to enslave like 900 people per hour at my salary. Skin color optional.


Brock Masters 3 months, 1 week ago

The unemployment rate for black teenagers is around 43 percent. What good is it raising the minimum wage if people can't get jobs?

What is better, to have a high minimum wage that deters businesses from hiring teenagers or paying teenagers $2.30 an hour and letting them gain work experience that might allow them to advance to higher paying jobs?

Can they support themselves on such a low wage? Of course not but they are not supporting themselves now either.

43% unemployment is horrible.

It is not racist to point out how a policy will hurt a subgroup of teenagers.


Larry Sturm 3 months, 1 week ago


That is a racist statement if there ever was one. BROWNBACK AND LAFFER ARE BAD FOR KANSAS.


Andrew Dufour 3 months, 1 week ago

Yes people when will we learn, if only employers could pay the unemployed $2.13 an hour everyone would have a job, imagine the Utopia that would create. Of course detractors would say that the market would dictate a solid wage but with 3 unemployed for every job I'm pretty sure the market would dictate a dismal wage that workers would be forced to take. But since people are living so lavishly on minimum wage now I'm sure cutting it down to next to nothing would be a boon for our State.


Bruce Bertsch 3 months, 1 week ago

What should we expect? Laffer is a discredited economist who created the greatest redistribution of wealth in history...upward to the rich from the poor. His is idea of reducing taxes to increase business opportunity, commonly referred to as supply side simply does not work in a demand based economy. Brownback's grand experiment is proving this again in Kansas. Its also interesting that most minimum wage jobs are not held by teenagers but by the recently unemployed adults, making his comments moot.


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