Setting the record straight on minimum-wage jobs
Amid growing debate about whether to raise the nation's $7.25 minimum wage, Teresa Ghilarducci, a labor economist with the New School in New York City, offered a statistic that sought to gauge how many American workers are poor.
"We are No. 1 in the world in creating low-wage jobs," Ghilarducci said "One out of four workers in the United States is a low-wage worker, meaning that they make 45 percent of the median wage, which is now $18,000 per year. So a quarter of our workers make $18,000 per year. And no other industrialized country has that kind of record."
The number she cites does not refer exclusively to full-year, full-time jobs. It includes lots of people who had a low income because they worked in a part-time job, or worked for just part of the year. 148.3 million Americans age 15 and up earned some wage or salary income in 2012. The bulk of these 35 million low-income workers - 23.5 million, or about two-thirds - worked part time.
Obama and wiretaps
Was Barack Obama against wiretapping before he was for it?
In his early years in the Senate, Obama was a reliable critic of the post-Sept. 11 surveillance efforts launched by President George W. Bush. As the Senate voted to reauthorize the Patriot Act that same week, Obama decried the administration's "fishing expedition" of Americans' everyday electronic records in a floor speech: "This is just plain wrong. ... Giving law enforcement the tools they need to investigate suspicious activity is one thing - and it's the right thing - but doing it without any real oversight seriously jeopardizes the rights of all Americans and the ideals America stands for..."
"We don't expect the president to give the American people every detail about a classified surveillance program. But we do expect him to place such a program within the rule of law, and to allow members of the other two co-equal branches of government - Congress and the Judiciary - to have the ability to monitor and oversee such a program."
"When I am president, there will be no more illegal wiretapping of American citizens. No more national security letters to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime. No more tracking citizens who do nothing more than protest a misguided war."
Obama promised to "revisit the Patriot Act to ensure that there is real and robust oversight of tools like National Security Letters, sneak-and-peek searches, and the use of the material witness provision," but no substantial legislative oversight has been added to the Patriot Act since Obama took over the White House.
Obamacare and convicts
A Dallas congressman, Republican Pete Sessions, charged the Obamacare law with failing to bar convicts from helping Americans shop for health coverage. Sessions said federal law related to Obamacare navigators "does not bar-or even require screening for-convicted felons, including individuals convicted of identity theft or fraud."
That's correct, but this claim is missing important meaningful information. For instance, it fails to note that the federal government has an Excluded Parties list that prevents grants from going to agencies not in good standing. Also, the claim doesn't acknowledge that states are permitted to impose background checks.
A Texas agency was already weighing such a mandate when Sessions made this claim while nationally, other states have done so or are considering as much. Finally, this claim fails to note that the biggest Texas contractor for navigators has reported conducting a background check of each navigator it hired.
Chip Tuthill, Mancos