Ad campaign targets proposed minimum wage increase - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Ad campaign targets proposed minimum wage increase

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- If you haven't seen the TV commercials yet, you probably soon will.

A Washington-based group is trying to convince Kentuckians that raising the minimum wage is a bad idea. The ads are part of a national campaign by a free-market think-tank called the Employment Policies Institute, or EPI. The basic message: raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour will cost jobs.

The ad features actors portraying a fortune teller and President Obama. The fortune teller informs the Obama character that people will lose jobs if he raises the minimum wage and points to, not her crystal ball, but a report from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.

In fact, a CBO report issued in February says the impact of a minimum wage increase to $10.10 could range between "a very slight reduction in employment, and a reduction in employment of one-million workers."

But the report also says the increase could lift 900,000 people out of poverty.

EPI's research director, Michael Saltsman defended the ad.

"If you look at the half-million-to-a-million lost jobs balanced by out by 900,000 people out of poverty, that doesn't strike me as a particularly good deal," he said.

The minimum wage has become a key issue in Kentucky's hot U.S. Senate race.

"The first thing I will put my name to is an increase in the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour," Grimes told a crowd of supporters earlier this year.

"The last thing, it seems to me, we ought to be doing is destroying jobs," said McConnell during a recent news conference.

But EPI, which is a non-profit, claims it is not trying to influence the election.

"There are various reasons it comes up in any given state. Our interest is in making sure that when it does come up, that people understand that there's no free lunch," said Saltsman.

But EPI does receive funding from the restaurant industry, and that should raise red flags, according to the pro-labor Kentucky Jobs with Justice.

"As someone who deals with a lot of research, I always like to know who authored the report, who the organization is, so that we know what light to take it in," said Executive Director Flaco Aleman.

But EPI says the numbers speak for themselves.

"This idea that you can do this without any consequences for the employees you're trying to help just isn't true, and it's not supported by the evidence," he said.

EPI will not say how much it is spending on the local TV and radio ads or on the national campaign.

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