Fox News Contributor Claims Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Call for $15 Minimum Wage 'Hurts Poor People'

Fox News contributor and columnist Liz Peek claimed that raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour and other progressive policies championed by Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez would actually hurt low income Americans.

During a Wednesday segment of Fox Business's Varney & Co hosted by Stuart Varney, Peek took aim at Ocasio-Cortez's Green New Deal proposal, which calls for taking major steps to tackle climate change while simultaneously creating well-paying jobs and improving the nation's infrastructure. Peek argued this was actually an "attack on poor people."

"That's what people really have to understand," the Fox News contributor said. "If you start pushing energy prices or electricity prices higher in this country, doesn't hurt us. Not a big portion of our budget goes for paying for heat and electricity."

"It really hurts poor people," she insisted. "Driving up the minimum wage above $15 as she wants to do, we know it costs jobs. Who does that hurt? It hurts poor people. Open borders. Drives wages down. Who does that hurt? Poor people."

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) speaks during a rally at Howard University on May 13 in Washington, D.C. Alex Wong/Getty

As of last month, the federal minimum wage has not been raised for 10 years, which is the longest period of time that has elapsed without an increase since it was established. As a result, calculations by the Economic Policy Institute estimate that American's living on minimum wage have lost about $3,000 annually when you take into consideration the rising costs of basic necessities such as rent, food and bills.

A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) study released this week predicted, as Peek argued, that raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour gradually by 2024 would lead to about 1.3 million people losing their jobs. However, it also found that the move would significantly boost the household income of millions of Americans while also shifting a large number of people out of poverty.

The Economic Policy Institute took issue with the CBO assessment that 1.3 million jobs would be lost, arguing that significant academic economic literature has been released showing that raising the minimum wage actually has a negligible impact on unemployment. "CBO's assessment of the literature has simply not yet caught up," it argued.

Currently, the federal minimum wage is just $7.25 an hour, although many states have independently raised their minimum wages to higher amounts. However, this means that in many states, full-time minimum wage workers only take home $290 per week. Assuming that someone worked 40 hours a week for 52 weeks out of the year – not accounting for any unpaid vacation or sick days – that person would earn just $15,080 in a year.

Nationally the poverty level for a two-person family has been set at $15,877, or for an adult with one child it is $16,895. This means minimum wage workers, who never miss an hour of work in a year, would still be living below the poverty line if they were a single parent or their partner did not work.