Poor Chris Christie. The embattled Republican governor realizes there are millions of Americans struggling to get by, working for a minimum wage that hasn’t budged in far too long, and he’s tired – not of so many working for so little, but rather, or hearing about these workers’ plight.
In a speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce today, the New Jersey governor told the business lobby:
“I gotta tell you the truth: I’m tired of hearing about the minimum wage. I really am.“I don’t think there’s a mother or father sitting around a kitchen table in America tonight who are saying, ‘You know, honey, if our son or daughter could just make a higher minimum wage, my God, all of our dreams would be realized.’”
I see. Some leaders get tired of seeing people struggle. Other leaders get tired of hearing about those who are struggling, and just wish the complaints would go away. In Chris Christie’s world, the purchasing power of $7.25 an hour may continue to drop, and millions of hard-working Americans are effectively working for poverty wages, but he just wishes they’d stop bothering him.
For context, it’s probably worth noting that the governor of New Jersey makes $175,000 a year – the fourth highest salary of any state chief executive in the nation.
Also note the part of his comments related to children: as if the minimum wage is primarily for young people.
Whether Christie is tired of hearing the truth or not, the fact remains that the vast majority of Americans who work for the minimum wage are over the age of 20. About half of them work full time.
It’s not about creating economic conditions in which “all of their dreams would be realized”; it’s about creating economic opportunities for those who are struggling to keep their heads above water and combatting systemic poverty.
Of course, there’s a reason this might be a sensitive subject for the Garden State governor.
Christie vetoed a bill in 2013 that raised the state’s minimum wage to $8.50 an hour, which was “too much, too soon,” in his words. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. New Jersey voters later approved a ballot initiative raising the state’s minimum wage to $8.25 an hour. That rate took effect in January.
No wonder Christie is tired of hearing about this: he’s on the wrong side and being reminded of this is apparently annoying.
But if the governor finds it irritating to hear about Americans working for poverty wages, he should perhaps try to imagine how irritating it is for those who actually get paid $7.25 an hour.