Horace Cooper, co-chairman of the National Center’s Project 21 black leadership network, heartily defended Arthur Laffer — the famous (and still active) Reagan-era economist — in a TVOne network debate about reforming the minimum wage to promote black teenage employment prospects.
On the 1/9/14 edition of “NewsOne Now,” Horace took on host Roland Martin, Christoper Metzler of Georgetown University and Ray Baker of Politics365 regarding Laffer’s recent comments on the Fox News Channel in which Laffer said that legislative efforts to raise the minimum wage amounted to little more than a “black teenage unemployment act.” Laffer added in his interview: “This is the very group that we need to have jobs, not be put out of work because of the minimum wage.”
At the beginning of the discussion, Horace quickly called the notion of abolishing the minimum wage — at least for younger job-seekers — a “brilliant idea.” He pointed out that “the goal is making hiring black young men more attractive.” While his opponents sought to imply that any abolition of minimum wage mandates equated to applicants receiving no wages, Horace replied that the wages offered would be determined by the free market in the same manner as the salaries of everyone participating in their debate are determined. And with those jobs come the prospect of vital training and opportunity for advancement and higher wages.
Noting that minimum wages were initially imposed as a means of “undercut[ting] black employment” in the pre-civil rights era, Horace said that “the overwhelming consensus among economists is that the minimum wage is the primary reason that young black men do not have the job opportunities that they do.”