On Thursday, former Bill Clinton campaign adviser and longtime CNN staple James Carville appeared on MSNBC’s “The ED Show” to sound off on President Barack Obama’s proposal to raise the minimum wage, arguing that it would not stymie job creation.
“Not only does it play in 2013, but raising the minimum wage, according to every credible study in the last 20 years has no effect on job creation,” Carville said. “So, that’s the first thing to remember. The second thing to remember is that the same people that don’t want to raise the minimum wage want to eliminate all taxes on corporate profits, want to eliminate all taxes on — all estate taxes, even on estates over $5 million, want to eliminate all taxes on capital gains.”
“I mean, how much do you have — when you look at the productivity line and you look at the corporate profit lines and they can’t raise it $7.25 an hour is too much for somebody,” he continued. “In spite of the fact that there’s no credible evidence in the last 20 years to show that raising that has any effect on employment. So the points, the actual research is much stronger in your favor than anybody would have originally thought on this.”
However, he suggested such an increase would be necessary in the case of some municipalities where budget shortfalls are being offset by dramatic hikes in sales taxes.
“I think he’s laid a proposal out there,” he said. “I think it’s a good proposal. I think in the end, what’ll probably happen is he’ll get it through if he sticks to it and he’ll negotiate. It might not be $9 an hour, but maybe it’s $8.25 an hour. Look, if you’re right there on the brink of making $7.25 an hour, a dollar an hour more might mean something to you. Look, in Louisiana, in New Orleans, where I live right now, they have a 9.5 percent sales tax. They’re talking about raising it to 14 percent, maybe. Can you imagine what that does to a minimum wage worker down here? I mean, it just slaughters people. Thank God we’ve got people that are willing to stand up and point out what’s going on here — how you can help these people without having any effect on employment. I don’t know why we haven’t done this a long time ago to tell you the truth.”
Carville also addressed the struggles of the Republican Party. Host Ed Schultz asked Carville how Democrats might go about getting a minimum wage hike through, despite the efforts of the GOP to slow down Obama’s policy initiatives.
“You know, we always say it’s the worst,” Carville said. “The Republicans are just having a hard time. They got their bell rung, and they’re trying to fight against [Chuck] Hagel, who is actually a Republican. [John] McCain seems to be trying to figure a way to get out of this. This thing with Rubio last night was just a first-class mess on their part. Karl [Rove] and the tea party are fighting with each other. You know, it’s going to take them a little while to figure out where they’re going. But right now they’re just all confused and don’t quite know what way to go. And all they can do is say just the same thing. I mean, if you look at [Marco] Rubio, it’s the same speech you’ve heard for the last 30 years. It’s nothing there.”
Carville ended his appearance by making a plea for policymakers to deal with unemployment as a higher priority than some of the other long-term proposals the president put forth.
“Ed, what I think is we have a humanitarian crisis of the first order,” he said. “Unemployment rate is unacceptably high, caused by lax standards during — in finance that caused a crash in our economy. We have to recognize that. We have not been able to get incomes — growth for middle income Americans, and we’ve got to sit down and I think the president started on a good path last night. I think some of the things he did were great. I hope he builds on that.”
“And I think the Middle Class in this country is desperate for a strategy to help them out of this,” Carville added. “And some of the things he proposes. I think this early learning, this preschool stuff is terrific in the long term, but we really right now have a terrible humanitarian crisis with unemployed people we have in this country, Ed. Hopefully, we can sort of deal with that and cut out this deficit obsession here for the next five years or so.”
(h/t RCP Video)