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'Maybe they should pay a livable wage': Fast-food sign sparks debate on minimum wage and benefits

Twitter users criticized a Republican congressman for claiming that stimulus checks and unemployment benefits were causing unemployment.

'Maybe they should pay a livable wage': Fast-food sign sparks debate on minimum wage and benefits
Image source: Twitter/@RepDavidRouzer

A sign outside of a fast-food restaurant that was shared by a Republican representative has sparked a fierce debate on the minimum wage and the potential downside of the unemployment benefits in the United States. The image shared by representative David Rouzer showed a sign outside Hardees stating that they were closed due to a lack of staff. Rouzer argued that new employees and potential employees had received unemployment benefits and a $1400 stimulus which made them unmotivated to work. “This is what happens when you extend unemployment benefits for too long and add a $1400 stimulus payment to it,” tweeted Rouzer. “Right when employers need workers to fully open back up, few can be found.”



Rouzer was reinforcing the point that Republicans were making while the stimulus checks and unemployment benefits were being discussed in Congress. Rouzer argued that the GOP was proven right but many Twitter users pointed out that it was more likely that employees were not being paid a minimum wage, which made them reject poorly paid work. Some pointed out that if the stimulus check of $1400 wouldn't even cover a month's rent, so Rouzer's argument didn't hold up.



The image sparked a debate with many echoing arguments similar to the ones made in Congress last year and earlier this year. Congress had approved a $2 trillion aid package in March, including stimulus payments for more than 160 million Americans. Earlier this year, Congress passed a second coronavirus relief package worth $1.9 trillion, including $1,400 stimulus checks, reported NBC News. During one discussion in Congress, many Republican senators argued that the stimulus bill would encourage unemployment and trigger worker shortages by providing more money to some unemployed workers than they would make while working. "This bill pays you more not to work than if you were working. You're literally incentivizing taking people out of the workforce at a time," argued Lindsey Graham, reported Vanity Fair.



Bernie Sanders was incensed that GOP was denying the poor money during a health crisis. "l find that some of my Republican colleagues are very distressed. They're very upset that somebody who's making $10 -$12 bucks an hour, might end up with a paycheck for four months more than they received last week. Oh my god! The universe is collapsing! Imagine that!" said Bernie, before adding that they had no problems with tax cuts. "They had no problem, a couple of years ago, voting for billion dollars tax breaks for billionaires and large profitable corporations," added Bernie Sanders. 



Many on Twitter pointed out to David Rouzer that the minimum wage in the country was the issue and not the unemployment benefits or the stimulus check. “No. This is what happens when employers pay workers starvation wages with no benefits,” wrote one user. “You don’t want to pay workers a living wage with decent benefits? Stay closed or do the work yourself.” Another user said Rouzer's argument didn't hold up as the stimulus hardly covered rent for a month. “$1,400 is less than a month’s rent. Not counting utilities,” one person tweeted. “And pretty sure unemployment benefits are there for people who lose their job, not people who just decide they want unemployment. Maybe companies should pay folks a livable wage instead of wasting paper.” Some Twitter users said it was nothing but free-market in action. "If you don’t pay people enough they’re not gonna take the shitty job,” wrote another.



In 2019, the House of Representatives had passed a bill to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 from $7.25, but it didn't pass in the Senate. According to CNN, it was also the first time in a decade that a proposal to raise the federal minimum wage has been passed. At the time, there was severe opposition to the bill from the US Chamber of Commerce and the business owners. Sean Kennedy, a spokesperson for the National Restaurant Association, said, “Thousands of restaurant industry employees, leaders and community members have called and emailed Congress to share their concerns about how H.R. 582 would cripple small- and family-owned businesses.” A Congressional Budget Office report estimated that raising the minimum wage to $15 from its current level of $7.25 could cost 1.3 million jobs while increasing wages for 17 million workers.

Gravity Payments CEO Dan Price, who cut his own $1 million salary by 90% to raise salaries of his employees up to a minimum of $70,000 per year, said poor minimum wage and no benefits were major issues. 


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