Sept. 18 2013 08:20 AM

His contempt for the working poor shows that

Kevin Faulconer
Photo by David Rolland

Former San Diego City Councilmember and candidate for Congress Carl DeMaio is a crusading, attention-seeking type of fiscally conservative Republican. He has clear ideas about how government should work—or, more accurately, how government should be dismantled. By contrast, City Councilmember Kevin Faulconer, a candidate for mayor of San Diego, is your garden-variety, go-along-to-get-along Republican that reacts to whatever's happening but doesn't crusade passionately for policy initiatives.

While DeMaio's type is more polarizing, Faulconer's type might be more frightening to progressives because their relatively mild manner makes them look more moderate to the average voter than they really are.

Last Friday, Faulconer said he opposed the bill to raise the minimum wage in California, which passed the state Legislature the day before and is expected to be signed by Gov. Jerry Brown. The bill would lift the minimum wage from $8 to $9 per hour next July and hike it again to $10 in 2016.

"I support more jobs for working families, not fewer jobs, which is what this bill will lead to," Faulconer said, according to U-T San Diego. "Common sense tells us companies will hire fewer people, which could stall economic growth."

First, don't you just love arrogant high earners who think low earners will be better off if we keep their pay as low as possible? Second, by "common sense," Faulconer means "talking points fed to Republicans by the business lobby." It certainly doesn't mean "prevailing wisdom of top economists."

The truth is, top economists are pretty evenly split on whether a $9 federal minimum wage would make it harder for lower-wage earners to find jobs. Earlier this year, the Initiative on Global Markets at the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business polled 38 of the nation's elite brains on that very question. None of them strongly agreed or strongly disagreed that such a move would reduce jobs. Some 34 percent agreed that it would while 32 percent disagreed, and 24 percent just were uncertain. The remaining 10 percent had no opinion or didn't respond.

However, when they were asked if the potential downside to raising the minimum wage was small enough compared with its benefits that it's a desirable policy overall, 47 percent of them agreed or strongly agreed, and only 11 percent disagreed or strongly disagreed. Some 32 percent were uncertain, and, again, the remaining 10 percent had no opinion or didn't respond.

In short, people who are far smarter than Faulconer—and us at CityBeat, for that matter—tend to think that while raising the minimum wage might result in some job losses, that's a chance worth taking.

What's not at all in dispute is the fact that those making minimum wage will be a lot better off. According to the Sacramento Bee, roughly 1.5 million workers would get a boost in pay; that's roughly 1.5 million people pumping more money straight back into the economy, because, as we all know, lower-income workers don't hoard money like high-wage earners—they spend it immediately out of necessity. And, no, not all those people earning less than $10 per hour are pimple-faced teenagers—33 percent are age 21 to 30, 22.4 percent are 31 to 40, 20 percent are 41 to 50 and 18.3 percent are 51 or older.

They're also mostly Latino—61.7 percent—so, Faulconer's attempts to reach Latinos by speaking the occasional Spanish will likely fall on deaf ears. We'd bet Latino voters are more interested in what candidates will do to pull their communities out of poverty than empty pandering. (You can add to that Faulconer's opposition to the Barrio Logan Community Plan option favored by the largely Latino residents and his support of the option favored by the shipyard industry; indeed, according to Voice of San Diego, City Councilmember and mayoral candidate David Alvarez says Faulconer was the only council member to decline a tour of the community.)

Yes, Faulconer is that boilerplate Republican who desperately clings to the idea that once you load the upper class with government subsidies, reduced regulations and reduced labor costs, money will rain down on everyone below. As we've seen during the past 35 years or so, that's just not true. We will strenuously oppose Faulconer's candidacy because his policies will widen the gap between San Diego's rich and San Diego's poor and shrink its middle class. 

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