John Boehner Argues Against His Own Minimum Wage Views Without Realizing It

| by Edward Arnold
John Boehner.John Boehner.

Speaker of the House John Boehner has been against raising the minimum wage for a long time. In an interview with “60 Minutes” on CBS on Jan. 25, Boehner explained his opposition.

“It’s a bad idea,” he said. “I’ve had every kinda rotten job you can imagine growin’ up and gettin’ myself through school. And I wouldn’t have had a chance at half those jobs if the federal government had kept imposing (a) higher minimum wage. You take the bottom rungs off the economic ladder.”

His comments reflect his personal history of working through tough jobs to eventually build his own multimillionaire dollar business. Those “rotten jobs” include janitorial and construction work to pay his way through college.

But, as The Huffington Post notes, Boehner's blue collar roots don't paint the same picture when it comes to his arguments against the minimum wage. In 1968, the year Boehner graduated high school, the minimum wage was $1.60 an hour. When adjusted for inflation, it is the highest minimum wage recorded by the Department of Labor, equal to over $12 per hour in today's money.

After a brief stint in the Navy, Boehner enrolled in Xavier University in 1971, where he had to take up those rotten jobs. While he was in college, the minimum wage went up three times. In May 1974, it was raised to $2.00 an hour. Then, raised to $2.10 in January 1975. And raised again to $2.30 in 1976.

While we don't know the specifics of Boehner's salary, we do know those wage hikes benefited the speaker. Additionally, when adjusted for inflation, all three of those wage hikes have more purchasing power than the current minimum wage. Boehner declined to acknowledge these facts.

“Obviously, a higher minimum wage doesn’t completely eliminate every job for every janitor or bulldozer driver in America — but it does mean there are fewer jobs and fewer opportunities,” said Michael Steel, Boehner's spokesman. “Boehner, as a former small businessman, knows from experience what the Congressional Budget Office confirmed last year: The president’s minimum wage proposal would destroy hundreds of thousands of American jobs.”

Sources: Huffington Post, MSNBC / Photo Credit: Flickr/Creative Commons via Gage Skidmore