Some members of the White House press worked overtime to fill the post-Trump content hole by pressing the Biden administration at length about President Joe Biden’s private statements on the $15 minimum wage — even after it was pointed out that they are identical to his public statements.
On Thursday, Politico published a misleading story alleging that the president “privately tells governors: Minimum wage hike likely isn’t happening.”
What he actually said was that the minimum wage hike would likely be stricken from the Covid relief bill by the Senate parliamentarian due to the rules surrounding the reconciliation process — which will allow the bill to pass with a simple majority.
In fact, as the article itself noted, Biden has said this exact thing in public, at length, and repeatedly — most notably before an obscure and little-known event called The Super Bowl. And when he said it then, news outlets misleadingly suggested Biden was willing to strip out the minimum wage himself.
And on Friday, a content-starved press corps spent a huge chunk of an Air Force One briefing with Jen Psaki trying to concoct the same controversy all over again — even after Psaki reminded them Biden had repeatedly said this publicly, while also publicly pushing for the measure to remain in the bill.
Q Did he tell governors during their meeting that the minimum wage raise will not be in the coronavirus bill?
MS. PSAKI: He said what he had said publicly about a week and a half earlier during a CBS interview, which is that, you know, he is looking at — he was in the Senate for 36 years, he knows it has to go through a process — through the parliamentarian in the Senate. He put the minimum wage — an increase in the minimum wage in his bill because he hopes that it is — because he feels that it is long overdue for that to be raised for American workers. But he also knows it’s got to go through a process. And he also conveyed in that meeting, which was in the report, that he believes — that he hopes that it is — that it does stay in there. That remains his view.
Q If you’re saying he repeated what he said in a CBS interview, so he did repeat that he doesn’t think it’s likely it will survive?
MS. PSAKI: I think he was reflecting on the fact that it has to go through a Senate parliamentary process. So we have to see that that process has to work its way through. He obviously leaves it up to Congress. The bottom line is: His focus and his desire is to have the minimum wage increased. He thinks it should happen over a period of time. But he thinks workers — American workers are long overdue in getting an increase.
Q Why is he raising that doubt about the parliamentarian when this certainly seems like the easiest way for the $15 minimum wage to become law? Why is he even making — raising those doubts to the public? Why hasn’t — why didn’t he just hold back on that until he saw what the parliamentarian decides to do?
MS. PSAKI: He was in the Senate for 36 years. I think he just follows closely what happens in Congress. But he would not have put it in the bill if he did not want the minimum wage to be increased. That’s what he wants to see the outcome as, but he also knows, through many, many decades of working through legislation, that the bill that comes out the other end may not look exactly the same as the bill coming in. And there’s several steps.
Q But does that have to do at all — does it have to do at all with the fact that there are a couple of Democratic senators who are not warm to that idea, and that’s why he’s putting some of the doubt there — because he wants to keep them on board?
MS. PSAKI: I would say there are also many Democrats who feel very, very strongly it should be in there. He certainly understands that there are a range of views about different components of the package. That’s legislating. That’s how democracy should work. He was simply explaining to them that this has to go through a process, because it’s going through reconciliation, and that’s all it was a reflection of: an explanation of the process, not a reflection of his commitment to raising the minimum wage.
Q But Senator Sanders has said that he’s assembling a team of aides to make the argument to the parliamentarian though. How aware or involved is the White House in that process of the argument that’s — will go before the parliamentarian?
MS. PSAKI: We’re certainly aware that Senator Sanders is doing — is taking that process and has hired a number of, I think — or working with, I should say, a number of very qualified and experienced people to work through the parliamentary process. We’re kept abreast of it. I wouldn’t say we’re involved in it directly.
Q And is he — as he prepares his arguments, is he keeping the White House abreast of how likely he thinks they are to pass, et cetera?
MS. PSAKI: Yeah, we’re in regular touch with Senator Sanders and his team, and many other senators and members on the bill, and certainly on this issue as well.
What’s particularly telling is that none of this exchange, which took up fully one-fifth of the briefing, ended up in the pool report on the gaggle. And none of the reporters on the plane tweeted about it.
There’s ample fodder for Biden vs. Progressives content in the fight over student debt relief without concocting something like this. I know it’s a long way to Kalamazoo, but don’t they have, like, a Parcheesi set on board somewhere?
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.
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