You know you aren't supposed to do it. But you know you're going to. Talk about politics over the holidays. It's hard to avoid it and you know your uncle who worships Rush Limbaugh and runs Fox News 24/7 is going to be armed with conservative talking points. Here's your handy guide to quick responses and facts use when you hear those talking points about issues important to working families.
Talking point: "Workers at Walmart are ungrateful and should be happy to have jobs."
Response: As many as 825,000 Walmart workers are making less than $25,000 a year because of low wages and not getting enough hours. Workers can’t raise their families on these poverty wages and Walmart makes $17 billion in profits a year. The family who owns the majority of the shares in the company are worth more than $144 billion (more than 42% of all American families combined), and can afford to pay more. ( Source )
Talking point: "Walmart offers a good place to work."
Response: Not only is Walmart once again failing to listen to the concerns of its workers, it’s retaliating against workers exercising their rights. Walmart even goes so far as to fire workers who were on legally protected strikes—which is not just wrong, but against the law as well. Walmart workers are forced to rely on public support—to the tune of $900,000 at just one of the company’s 4,000 stores. ( Source )
Talking point: "Increasing wages for Walmart workers and other large retailers would hurt the economy."
Response: Walmart devoted more than $14 billion to buy back stock to help its stockholders over the past two years, so without raising prices, it could have instead raised the pay of every U.S. worker by more than $5,600 a year. If Walmart and other large retailers paid $25,000 a year for full-time work: 1.5 million retail workers and their families would be lifted out of poverty or the economic margin of poverty; retail sales would increase and more than 100,000 new jobs would be created. ( Source )
Talking point: "We don't need to raise the minimum wage."
Response: The annual income for a full-time employee making the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour is $15,080. That is not enough to afford rent on a two-bedroom apartment in any of the 50 states. Jobs should lift workers out of poverty, not trap them in poverty. ( Source )
Talking point: "Minimum wage workers are teenagers working their first jobs or people just working for a little extra money."
Response: Many minimum wage workers are breadwinners in their families and 55% work full-time. Half of low-wage workers are over 34 years old. ( Source )
Talking point: "Minimum wage workers don't deserve a raise, they don't work hard enough."
Response: If the minimum wage had kept up with worker productivity since 1969, it would be $18.75. ( Source )
Talking point: "The government shutdown didn't hurt the economy."
Response: The shutdown cost 120,000 private-sector jobs in the first two weeks of October and will reduce economic growth by 0.25 percentage points in the 4th quarter. ( Source )
Talking point: "Budget cuts haven't hurt the economy."
Response: Discretionary budget cuts have reduced annual growth by 0.7 percentage points, cost 1.2 million jobs and increased the unemployment rate by 0.8 percentage points. ( Source )
Talking point: "We have a deficit crisis and we have to do something now."
Response: There is no deficit or debt crisis. The annual deficit has been cut nearly in half since 2009 and is now falling faster than at any time since after World War II. ( Source )
Talking point: "Deficits caused the economic crisis."
Response: Deficits are the result—not the cause—of the economic crisis. The real problem with our economy is weak middle-class buying power, which is caused by high unemployment, lingering household debt, stagnant wages and a towering trade deficit. ( Source )
Talking point: "Cuts made during the sequester didn't hurt the economy."
Response: Sequestration cuts are making the jobs crisis worse and holding back economic growth; simply repealing sequestration would generate 900,000 jobs by this time next year. ( Source )
Talking point: "Federal employees are overpaid and need to make sacrifices, too."
Response: Federal employees already have sacrificed well over $100 billion in the form of a three-year pay freeze and increased contributions to retirement for post-2012 hires. ( Source )
Talking point: "Social Security is going bankrupt and we need to fix it."
Response: Social Security has never added a penny to the deficit. With no changes, Social Security can pay every cent of projected benefit payouts until 2033. After that, it will still be able to pay 75% of projected benefits. There is an easy fix to the projected shortfall: currently wealthy people only pay Social Security payroll taxes on the first $113,700 of their income and nothing on income above that. If this cap were scrapped and everyone paid the same payroll tax on all of their income, deficits in Social Security would be delayed for the foreseeable future. ( Source )
Talking point: "Americans want the federal government to fix the immigration system by punishing undocumented immigrants."
Response: The 2012 election offered a clear difference on immigration policy and the voters soundly rejected the anti-immigrant, anti-working family agenda put forth by the few who profit from the broken immigration process. Voters clearly voted for a process that provides a road map to citizenship, keeps families together and protects all workers. ( Source )
Talking point: "We don't need to extend unemployment insurance payments."
Response: If unemployment insurance benefits aren't extended, 3.1 million people will be cut off right before Christmas. Extending them will lead to the creation of 310,000 additional jobs in 2014 and increase tax revenues and boost the economy. ( Source )