Scarborough confronts Obama economist over denial of new minimum wage report

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Brendan Bordelon Contributor
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MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough angrily responded to White House economist Gene Sperling’s claim that yesterday’s nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report got it wrong on the minimum wage, with the host noting that “the White House has followed the CBO when it suits their purposes.”

President Obama is now on a push to raise the minimum wage nearly three dollars, to $10.10 nationwide. But a recent report from the non-partisan CBO put a kink in the administration’s plans Tuesday, raising the possibility of 500,000 to one million low-income job losses resulting from a minimum wage rise.

Yesterday the White House assured reporters that an increase would have no impact on employment (RELATED: White House rushes to attack CBO report on minimum wage increase). And Sperling, as Director of the White House’s National Economic Council, doubled down on that language Wednesday morning.

“On jobs — you know, this is an area where I regretfully disagree with the CBO,” he said on MSNBC, “though we have enormous admiration for the institution and their professionalism.”

Sperling claimed the CBO researchers relied too much on “Economics 101 — that if price goes up, there must be a little less supply. And I think their mistake was not looking at the practical research that was done.”

Scarborough was more than a little annoyed — particularly at Sperling and his fellow panelists’ sanctimonious preaching on poverty. “I can’t be set up as a beast that doesn’t want somebody to get $10 an hour, and then not actually have a couple of seconds to explain why!” he began. “I don’t care about corporations that are making record-breaking profits having to pay more money.”

“My concern is CBO’s concern,” he continued, “which is that, if you look at it and look at who’s going to be affected and who’s going to be hurt, it’s not going to be the guy with a top hat and a monocle. It’s going to be other people who are working poor, who could be losing their jobs as well — from 500,000 up to a million.”

“It depends on whether you follow the CBO or not,” he later added. “The White House has followed the CBO when it suits their purposes, but yesterday the CBO came out with a report that doesn’t make it as simple as you say.”

Sperling wouldn’t budge, further criticizing the CBO. “This is not where they have some special expertise others don’t,” he declared. “We’ve had practical research.” He added that even if “you want to buy their view,” the moral imperative overrides all other concerns.

“We, as a country, can afford to give people a minimum wage,” he included.

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