McCutcheon, McConnell, and McDonald's: The Triple Play Threat Against Low-Wage Workers and Democracy

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Did you know the NRA is the biggest political financier of opposition to a federal minimum wage increase? No, not the gun lobby, but the National Restaurant Association. Public Campaign Action Fund’s own Rahna Epting and LeeAnn Hall of the Community Organizations in Action tackled the other insidious NRA in their op-ed “The Triple Play Against Low Wage Workers: McCutcheon, McConnell, and McDonald’s.”  They wrote:

“Out of 20 business trade associations that signed a recent letter opposing a minimum wage increase, the NRA distinguishes itself as the biggest direct political contributor since 2011, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. During the past 25 years, the NRA and associated individuals have shelled out $12.7 million in federal contributions to candidates, candidate committees, and parties. The NRA’s corporate members are big political spenders, too. Walt Disney, Coca-Cola and their associates have broken the $10 million threshold since 1989. Marriott, McDonald’s and Darden Restaurants (parent of Red Lobster, Olive Garden and Capital Grille) have each spent more than $5 million. And Wendy’s, Bloomin’ Brands (parent of Outback Steakhouse), and YUM! Brands (parent of Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut) have all broken the $1 million mark.”

Epting and Hall connect the recent McCutcheon ruling, which allows nearly unlimited donations to federal candidates, with the struggle for wage justice. This ruling financially empowers the NRA, its corporate members, and their executives while further politically marginalizing low-wage fast food employees, as well as folks who can’t afford to write large campaign checks. It would take a full-time McDonald’s worker earning the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 more than eight years to reach the $123,200 contribution limit terminated by the Supreme Court decision. Big businesses rely on being able to outmaneuver and outspend their own workers and the general public. They know it takes large donations to overcome the nearly seven in ten Americans in support of raising the minimum wage.

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is a prime target for these anti-worker donations. He’s received $2.1 million from PACs controlled by opponents of increasing the minimum wage. The Senate Minority Leader continues to characterize any federal increase as a “far left” issue, despite the fact that one-quarter of his own constituents would get a raise, and Kentuckians favor the legislation by 2:1 margins. The Senator claims he just wants to make the middle class happy, but his donors and actions seem to indicate he’s concerned with corporate executives, not people who are “other things.