Fact Check: Braley Attacks Ernst on Minimum Wage

By Adam Carros, KCRG-TV9

Introduction

“Joni Ernst doesn’t think there should be a federal minimum wage. And what does she think is right for Iowa?

‘I think $7.25 is appropriate for Iowa.’

That’s right, Ernst believes Iowans can survive on $15,000 a year.”

Source of claim

Braley for Iowa campaign television ad, “Minimum”.

Analysis

The minimum wage issue is not new for Iowa’s U.S. Senate race. We already fact checked one ad attacking Republican Joni Ernst for opposing the federal minimum wage.

This ad may give some the perception that Ernst is against any minimum wage, which is not true. Ernst has said several times she is against a federal minimum wage but believes individual states, not the federal government, should set wage standards based on the local economy.

That leads to the ad’s second claim that Ernst thinks $7.25 is an appropriate rate for Iowa. Ernst made that exact statement in a forum this past March, during the republican senate primary. That rate works out to an annual salary of $15,080 per year, based on working 40-hour weeks, 52 weeks a year. That is below the federal poverty line of $16,078 for a family of two.

The Economic Policy Institute, a nonprofit think tank focused on economic issues for low and middle-income workers, says the minimum wage did not always fall below the poverty line. The EPI found the minimum wage salary, adjusted for inflation, was above the poverty line up until 1984. Since then, it has hovered just below the poverty line, with a few exceptions. Many democrats argue that has increased income inequality and poverty but Republicans counter that raising the minimum wage could cause some employers to cut minimum wage jobs. Whether $7.25 is a right minimum wage for Iowa depends largely on personal political leanings.

Conclusion

The ad uses direct quotes from Joni Ernst on her positions on the federal minimum wage, which are easy to confirm, and the rest of the claim is simple math. While the opinion statements in the ad are up for debate, the facts laid out in it are 100% true.

Sources:

http://www.epi.org/publication/minimum-wage-workers-poverty-anymore-raising/

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