Speaking Tom Emmer’s language

Opponents of political candidates regularly follow them around the state, videotaping their every appearance and word. The flap over Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer’s comments about the minimum wage in the state is exactly why.

As I posted on 5×8 this morning, Emmer uploaded a video about his three hours as a waiter at a restaurant in Roseville, prefacing it with criticism of reporters — including MPR’s Marty Moylan — and their coverage of his July 5th appearance at a St. Paul restaurant.

“There are a lot of people who’ve been misled by the less-than-forthright mainstream media here in the Twin Cities when the other day I talked with a couple of restaurant owners in downtown St. Paul who told me that, you know, they needed some help, government’s not helping much,” Emmer said. “They talked about how much their servers get. It’s all on tape. And all I did is respond to them when they said, ‘if it was offered would you advocate for a tip credit?’ I said, ‘yes.’ But then the next question was not publicized very well. The next question was, ‘Tom, so you’re saying you’d reduce the minimum wage,’ and my answer was, ‘that would be foolish. Absolutely not. We’re not talking about reducing anyone’s wages, we’re talking about making sure everyone could be successful…”

Today, the DFL further cashed in on the controversy, uploading its video of the event. Here’s part one:

Here’s part two:

Emmer’s recollection of the questions and his answers is cloudy. Emmer was asked whether waiters making $100,000 a year with tips was simply the free market at work? “Yes, if it wasn’t for the minimum wage law,” he replied. Is that saying he’d like to get rid of the minimum wage law? He didn’t appear to say “that would be foolish.” He said, “I don’t know that you can do that…that’s why it’s more in line with a tip credit.” The reporters didn’t raise the issue of a tip credit; Emmer did.

However, he also seemed to suggest repealing the minimum wage in the state isn’t an option when he said, “Plus… you’ve got a federal law as well.”

But isn’t a “tip credit” a cut in the minimum wage? When Moylan asked “how would that work?”, Emmer replied, “well, we’ll talk about that.” That question was a forthright attempt to accurately report Emmer’s proposal. The problem is: Emmer didn’t really have a proposal. When Moylan said, “I didn’t hear any specifics, there,” Emmer replied, “You did. You absolutely did.”

Who else didn’t report the issue the way Tom Emmer says he would’ve liked? Tom Emmer’s campaign. Here’s the video the campaign posted of the event:

There, obviously, is nothing there about Emmer stressing he’s not trying to reduce anyone’s wages, nothing about the idea of reducing the minimum wage being “foolish” and nothing that includes the words “absolutely not.”

So basically, Emmer’s criticism of the media centers around its refusal to accurately report a quote he didn’t make.

Still, both sides, have some room for deniability in the parsing of Emmer’s exact words, which is an entirely different — and more illustrative — issue that sprouts from the plethora of candidates in Minnesota making campaign appearances without specific proposals for solutions.

That’s not the media’s fault.

  • Matt

    Thank goodness for Bob Collins. Seriously, why hasn’t this man gotten a raise or have his own show. I’d take a call-in version of NewsCut over the second hour of Midmorning any day.

    Okay, enough fawning.

    Why can’t anyone hold Emmer’s feet to the fire on this? Enough with the “opponents say” and “listening tours” — he’s put his foot in his mouth, so much so he had to wait tables to save face, for Pete’s sake, but still has no answer as to where the money actually comes from in his plan? Not that he’s the only one, but this is a pretty big issue that shown Emmer’s true colors in a way that could cost the Republicans having a viable candidate for governor. I continue to be baffled by this move. Like you asked a couple week’s ago: who’s running this show?!

  • John P.

    The moment a politician start complaining about the “mainstream media” I know he or she is simply repeating right wing radio catch phrases.

    If “the mainstream media” is not reporting your position correctly, explain it better … if you can!

  • bsimon

    “Opponents of political candidates regularly follow them around the state, videotaping their every appearance and word. The flap over Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer’s comments about the minimum wage in the state is exactly why.”

    Amazingly the candidates continue to step in it & bring these problems upon themselves.

  • Julie P.

    Emmer has dug himself a huge hole on this issue. Of COURSE servers’ wages will go down if a tip credit is enacted lowering their minimum wage. And then today he proposed excluding the first $20,000 in tips from income taxes. Huh? Why should a sales clerk, nursing home aide or other non-tipped worker at or near the minimum wage be required to pay income taxes on all income while servers don’t? This is the worst kind of political pandering. In essence Emmer wants to cut servers’ wages in order to save money for restaurant owners and then have the taxpayers foot the bill.

  • Lois

    Yeah, my son worked for a big successful restaurant chain in a state with the $2.13 server minimum wage. Low wage states don’t have high tippers. My daughter worked where she got $4/hour plus tips. She said one of her pay checks was $.16. Yes, 16 cents. Because the rest went to tips. Because of computers, the servers aren’t hiding many tips these days.

  • John O.

    Being a member of the minority caucus is as cushy a job as it gets. You earn a decent paycheck, have benefits, have staff, a nice office, you can introduce any whimsical piece of legislation or you can have a staff person draft any kind of amendment you want. And collect per diem too! All at taxpayer expense.

    And when each legislative day comes and goes, you know that since you are a member of the minority, nothing matters because you know you don’t have to exhibit any leadership or accountability. You breathe a huge sigh of relief and satisfaction.

    Mr. Emmer has proven so far he has the innate skill to insert his foot in his mouth with ease and panache–and not much else beyond the usual right-wing hyperbole.

    I am not enamored with the three DFL choices either. Mr. Horner will get a solid look from this voter, but the primary results might play a factor. But Mr. Emmer will not have to worry about my vote. I’ve seen enough.

  • ginny

    If the business is so up set about employees that make $100,000 in tips, why can’t they impose a fee on tips over $20,000. Why do they need government to do that? It is their business and they make the rules within their establishment.

  • bsimon

    ginny writes

    “If the business is so up set about employees that make $100,000 in tips, why can’t they impose a fee on tips over $20,000. Why do they need government to do that? It is their business and they make the rules within their establishment.”

    That’s an interesting question. I think it depends on who ‘owns’ the tip. As a tipper, I am thinking primarily of the server with whom I’ve placed an order; depending on the restaurant, they may be a solo performer, or more of a manager of multiple team members (i.e. busboy, etc). I am giving the server a tip; if they choose to share it with the busboy or kitchen, its their call. I’m absolutely not thinking of the restaurant’s owner – they get the bulk of the check, through the charges for the consumables: food & beverage. But legally, I wonder; who does ‘own’ the tip, particularly if it’s in the form of a line item on a credit card receipt.

  • Brent

    Since when do waiters and servers make $100,000 in tips? All my friends who do that work must be working in the wrong places.