Minimum Wage, Maximum Rage | Crooked Media
Jon, Jon & Tommy's first ever book is here - Order Democracy or Else NOW! Jon, Jon & Tommy's first ever book is here - Order Democracy or Else NOW!
February 26, 2021
What A Day
Minimum Wage, Maximum Rage

In This Episode

  • The House is expected to pass its COVID relief bill as soon as today, but there’s still a question of what happens when the bill gets to the Senate. Yesterday the Senate parliamentarian said the minimum wage increase couldn’t pass via the budget process. We explain the ruling, the reaction and where things could go from here.
  • With Black History Month almost over, we spoke to Black history educators from across the country about what it means to them in 2021 and who they are celebrating this year.
  • And in headlines: We’re joined by Nicole Byer! Lady Gaga’s friend shot and dogs stolen, a man implicates himself at the Capitol riots by texting his ex, and Trump’s tax records are in the hands of Manhattan prosecutors.




Akilah Hughes: It’s Friday, February 26th. I’m Akilah Hughes.


Gideon Resnick: And I’m Gideon Resnick, and this is What A Day where we are learning to cook new meals and quarantine, like pasta, but different.


Akilah Hughes: Yeah I enjoyed pasta for the first six months, but in the last six months, making the pasta just a little different has been essential for me.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah, honestly, I’m going to go no sauce. On today’s show, we hear from Black history educators about what Black History Month in 2021 means to them. Then some headlines.


Akilah Hughes: But first, the latest.


[Senator Bernie Sanders] Federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour has not been raised by Congress since 2007. Got that? Minimum wage not been raised by Congress since 2007, 14 years ago. And let us be clear, no ifs or buts and maybes—$7.25 an hour is a starvation wage. That’s what it is.


Akilah Hughes: That was Senator Bernie Sanders at a hearing yesterday making the case for raising the federal minimum wage. He and others have been hoping to do that in the upcoming COVID relief bill. And speaking of that bill, things are in flux, as usual, but the House is expected to try and pass it as soon as today. Which means it’s time for a new segment we’re calling Stimulus Countdown. Which is working title, let us know if you have any suggestions at all. We are listening.


[Music clip of So Tired] So tired . . .


Akilah Hughes: Wow. Accurately captures all of our feelings. We’re tired of waiting for this, but let’s get into it. So getting the bill through the House would be a major step forward. But of course, there’s still the Senate and the minimum wage increase is one of the most uncertain issues there. You, me, senators and basically everyone—we’re waiting to hear from the Senate parliamentarian on whether or not it could even be included in the Senate bill. And we got an answer to that yesterday evening. So let’s start with what the answer was.


Gideon Resnick: The answer was no, unfortunately. Bad news from the Senate parliamentarian saying the minimum wage increase could not be included in the budget reconciliation bill. So to get a sense of where we are now, let me back up for a second to explain how this all went down. On Wednesday, we had Republican and Democratic staff making arguments to the Senate parliamentarian. Her name is Elizabeth MacDonough. If she had said yes at that point, it can be included, Democrats would have had to figure out how to structure it in their bill and then get all 50 Democrats in the Senate on board. We knew also that at least one Democratic senator, you guessed it—it is Joe Manchin has recently countered with an $11 offer per hour, that is. And we also know that Republican senators are absolutely a no go too, with their counter pitch being $10 an hour. So all due respect, when a lot of these guys started work back during the Dust Bowl, a nickel was like $100. So I guess this checks out.


Akilah Hughes: Yeah, you’re not wrong. OK, so now the parliamentarian has ruled. What do we do now?


Gideon Resnick: Yeah, that’s the question. So this is only pertaining to the Senate. So as far as we know, it’s going to stay in the House bill that is set to be voted on today. Also, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi raised the possibility of doing a separate minimum wage bill if it does get cut in the Senate. But then I think you’re kind of back at needing 60 votes in the Senate, which is sort of square one again. Or hypothetically, Vice President Harris could overrule the parliamentarian’s decision. And that’s one way that’s been talked about doing this. Though, White House Chief of staff Ron Klain recently said that wasn’t going to happen.


Akilah Hughes: OK, so the Congressional Progressive Caucus and Senator Sanders have been the main drivers behind the minimum wage provision. So what are they saying about this?


Gideon Resnick: Yeah, they’re pretty obviously disappointed. After the news broke, Sanders said he was going to try a different route: taking tax deductions away from corporations that don’t pay workers at least %15 an hour. And you also have Democrats like Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, the chair of that caucus, saying it’s time to play hardball here. Here’s a clip of her talking to Rachel Maddow on Wednesday before the parliamentarian decision even came out.


[clip of Rep. Pramila Jayapal] I did want to make a clarification, though. The parliamentarian issues an advisory opinion. Once the parliamentarian issues that advisory opinion, it is up to the chair of the Senate to decide whether or not to incorporate that opinion. It’s a small technicality, but I do think that we’ve got to use every tool in our toolbox here, whether it is reconciliation, whether it is ultimately reforming the filibuster. We’re going to need to deliver on our promise to raise the wage for 27 million Americans.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah. So not backing down at all. And then on top of all of this, some Senate Democrats are raising the possibility that other parts of the bill, too, like the expanded child tax credits, will maybe not make it through the parliamentarian either. So it’s going to be very telling to see who ends up fighting for what here. I think the big question is: do we have an unelected official that gets to dictate who remains in poverty or will this get overruled? And or will it just push Democrats to get rid of the filibuster for once and all?


Akilah Hughes: I mean, I sure hope so. So while this is all getting finalized, there have been more updates on companies going their own way on wages. So give us an update on that.


Gideon Resnick: Yes, so back to that hearing with Sanders that we played at the top. The CEO of Costco testified at that hearing that the company was going to raise its starting salary to $16 an hour. They were already at $15 an hour, ahead of a lot of other companies. And the CEO also flat out said this wasn’t an altruistic move, but rather one that he saw as being good for business. He also said, according to NPR, that more than half of the company’s hourly U.S. workers are paid more than $25 already. He wasn’t speaking overall to whether or not a $15 federal minimum wage was a good thing, but he said, “Wages don’t usually put you out of business” in response to Republican questioning, which has mostly centered on this idea that if we did this, this would hurt smaller retailers. The CEOs of McDonald’s and Walmart declined to testify at this hearing, but a McDonald’s worker testified that his family had become homeless due to low wages. So a lot of attention on this issue right now that we are going to keep track of where it all goes. But let’s move on to our next story.


Akilah Hughes: OK, so Black History Month is almost over, but that definitely doesn’t mean we should stop talking about Black history. This past year in particular has been filled with unprecedented events, from the pandemic to racist police violence that led to historic civil rights protests in the U.S. and around the world, to the election of a new president, our first Black woman vice president, but also an attack on that election and our capital. So we wanted to check in with Black history educators and museums around the country to hear their perspective on the past year, what Black History Month means now, and a few of the people that they are choosing to celebrate this year.


Faith Morris: So I’m Faith Morris, Chief Marketing and External Affairs Officer at the National Civil Rights Museum. You know, when I think about Black History Month for 2021, and it’s a lot different from Black History Month 2020 and past years. It’s a time for us to learn and understand and celebrate but absolutely, too, we commit to understand that a lot of the injustices that we saw in 2020 and that honestly did not go away in 2020 and it didn’t start in 2020, but it, it became more vocal and more visible in a very different way. And the nation responded, frankly in a way that I’ve not experienced in my lifetime. Big, big statements from corporations, big, big statements from foundations, big, big statements from icons and everyday people deciding that 1) they’re mad at them, they’re not going to take it anymore! So it is it’s an activist decade, it’s an activist year. And I don’t see that there’s going to be less of that for 2021.


Dr. Jessica Klanderud: So I’m Dr. Jessica Klanderud. I am the director of the Carter G. Woodson Center for Interracial Education at Berea College. And I’m also an assistant professor of African and African-American Studies. I work at Berea College, which is a very special place for a lot of reasons, but one of them is that it is the first home of Dr. Carter G. Woodson, who is considered the founder of Black History Month. And so we kind of claim him as most people do but the fact that he really worked his way through school and felt it was super important for Black history to be readily available for everybody, because to him and to me as well, Black history is American history. And every time we try to compartmentalize it or make it something that doesn’t include all of the stories that make up America, then we’re diminishing our whole for doing that. So for me, it’s pretty important to make sure that everybody has access to good knowledge and learning about black history, and especially to see how it is so important to what we do as people. It’s not, it’s not separated. It’s very included.


Christopher Miller: My name is Christopher Miller. I am the senior Director of Education and Community Engagement at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. One person that illuminates with me is Ida B. Wells-Barnett. She was a part of the women’s suffrage movement, but she also was an advocate for justice. She was a crusader for justice. And often she goes overlooked. She was a part of many organizations, including the NAACP. And keeping in mind the NAACP back in 1917, birthed what we would call the contemporary protest movement with the silent protest march that they did in New York City in 1917. And so keeping in mind that she was a part of this organization that was making this monumental change in addressing the social violence that was being inflicted upon Black lives, Black families during this time. So Ida B. Wells is someone that I want to encourage all American families to be more aware of. And so if I had to select one, definitely Ida B. Wells- Barnett.


Aaron Bryant: My name is Aaron Bryant and I’m a museum curator at the National Museum of African-American History and Culture. I think for many people it can be overwhelming or even difficult to realize that you’re in the middle of historic or epic change, which is what this past year has been. And even if you realize you’re in the midst of some sort of transformation, what do you do, if you do anything at all? I I’m someone who really appreciate that history happens right before our eyes every day and that history is made by everyday people in the course of their everyday lives. So for me, I’m always asking what role will I play? It’s part of the reason I became a historian. And so I’ve given a lot of thought to that over the past year. It was just one history-changing event after another from COVID to the capital insurrection. And I think it’s incumbent upon all of us, particularly, particularly Americans, to ask as we go through this transformation, what role will we play?


Akilah Hughes: Thanks to our producer, Sonia Htoon, for putting that together and for everyone who shared their voice. Also shout out to my alma mater, Berea College. You know, some smart people didn’t go to Harvard, so shout out.


Gideon Resnick: That is the truest thing ever said. [laughs] And by the way, we put some links in our show notes so you can check out more of the stories and interviews that Crooked has put out this Black History Month: Including a new piece our Political Director, Shaniqua McClendon, wrote about historically Black colleges and universities and how they and their graduates are shaping our politics today.


Aaron Bryant: But since Black History Month is still not over, we’ve got one more Black person up next as a special headlines guest. We’ll be right back with that after these ads.


[ad break].


Akilah Hughes: Let’s wrap up with some headlines.


[sung] Headlines.


Akilah Hughes: Today, we’ve got a special guest with us, it is Nicole Byer. She’s a brilliant comedian, actress and writer. You might know her from her hit Netflix series, Nailed It or her hit podcast, Why Won’t You Date Me? Nicole, we are thrilled to have you with us. Thank you for taking the time.


Nicole Byer: Thank you for having me. What a dang treat.


Akilah Hughes: [laughs] All right. So, I will get us started. One of the few crimes that will make me root for the police—asterisk—to stop killing black people, [but serve the police just happen]. Two men, shot Lady Gaga’s friend and dog walker on Wednesday night and stole two of her French bulldogs in Los Angeles. These people are little monsters, but in the bad way, not the way you’d want. Gaga has already suffered so much to give us her art and if life was fair in a few days, she’d be scraping parts of the dog thieves off the front of the Chromatica truck. But we are in COVID and just eating those Oreos. Gaga is offering $500,000 for the return of her dogs—that’s that seems low, almost, right? [laughs] No questions asked. That’s if her dogs, who I assume are really smart and talented, don’t get inside their captors heads and mind-game their way to freedom—I would watch that movie. Her friend Ryan Fisher has been hospitalized and per page six is recovering well. So get well soon, Ryan.


Nicole Byer: OK, real quick, did you see the video?


Akilah Hughes: Of him getting like—


Gideon Resnick: There’s a video of it happening?


Nicole Byer: Yes, it’s so sad. He’s so scared. And I was like, he took it better than me. He was just like: I’ve been shot. It was like audibly saying he’d been shot. I was like, if I had been shot, I just would have been like, screaming. Like who did it? Why did you do it? Like he was very composed.


Akilah Hughes: [laughs] You’re not wrong. Like, he seems like professional in every aspect. I would for sure be like doing that big comfy couch like clock dance on the floor. Like I would just be like moving in a circle with my legs just like: Why? Also just like, I mean I think the screams might have been a little louder but you know.


Nicole Byer: Yeah I would have been—yeah. I just, he took it well, or they, you know?


Akilah Hughes: [laughs] Yeah.


Nicole Byer: I was just like: wow. Also I couldn’t believe there’s a video. OK, well there’s a new way, there’s a new way to tell your ex you’re over them, text them while doing terrorism on the United States Capitol. That’s what Richard Michetti did on January 6. He and thousands of other pro-Trump guys rioted. He sent his ex videos and pictures and bragged about dodging tear gas. He also wrote—isn’t that wild?—he also wrote, quote “If you can’t see the election was stolen, you are a moron!”


Akilah Hughes: Romance, romance.


Nicole Byer: Yeah, very romantic. I’m dying for a man to call me a moron and ask to fuck me. Things—oh, boy—they didn’t work out well for Richard, though. His ex later forwarding their entire conversation to the FBI, which is what led to his arrest. In the future, the best way to win someone back is just by buying them an expensive necklace.


Akilah Hughes: Do it that way, you know?


Gideon Resnick: He probably won’t.


Akilah Hughes: Don’t call ’em a moron. Don’t try to overthrow your government. Just like . . . [laugh] Classy.


Nicole Byer: No. Also we like, stop talking about it. And I was like, this was bad.


Akilah Hughes: Yes.


Nicole Byer: This was a bad opener to 2021 and we—a month, two months in, stop talking about it.


Akilah Hughes: Yeah. It’s like honestly it was one of the wildest things I’ve ever seen on live television and I’m like: that’s, that’s just happening now? But you know, America’s been on a slippery slope towards that’s just happening now, for a while. I’m almost mad that I only know upstanding people who wouldn’t be there because I’m like I would like to, like, turn someone in. That seems like a good thing.


Gideon Resnick: [laughs] Right.


Nicole Byer: I would have loved to have turned my television on and seen one of those idiots from high school and been like: I know him! I absolutely know him! Oh, so many micro-aggressions from that person. I know them!


Akilah Hughes: Oh, Exactly. I only remember how they made me feel. [laughs] Not great.


Gideon Resnick: The long, boring forms we all love so much, Trump’s tax records are in the hands of prosecutors in Manhattan after a nearly 18-month battle. Good for them. The announcement came after the Supreme Court denied Trump’s final attempt to block the records from being given over, earlier this week. So the full scope of the Manhattan DA’s investigation isn’t clear, but according to reports, they’ll be looking into possible tax or bank fraud committed by Trump and the Trump Organization between 2011 and 2019. That has a pretty wide range of dates. Tiffany will take the fall for this, I’m predicting, [laughs] that says she started cooking the books at age 15. Just throwing it out there, it’s a possibility. If the Manhattan D.A. does end up indicting Trump, it could lead to a criminal trial. Woo woo. Following the Supreme Court decision earlier this week to release these records to investigators, Trump responded with a long statement calling it a witch hunt. So going on permanent vacation in Palm Beach hasn’t made him any more relaxed or chilled.


Akilah Hughes: How do you know he said that? Where did he say that? I don’t, I can’t find him anywhere online. [laughs]


Nicole Byer: Yeah, I also can’t either. I really love it. Like, I love not seeing his insane barrage of tweets every fucking day.


Akilah Hughes: Yes, totally.


Nicole Byer: It’s been lovely.


Akilah Hughes: Yeah, I honestly feel like I’ve, like, aged backwards, not just because of Black History Month, but also because like, [laughs] we are not dealing with somebody tweeting from the shitter that, like it’s a witch hunt and that they are allowed to do crimes.


Nicole Byer: Yeah, OK. You spent the last ten years learning that Kelsey Grammer is a pro-life—Oh, I didn’t know that—pro Trump Republican. I had no idea [laughs] which means now is the perfect time to announce that the Frasier show is getting rebooted! Grammar confirmed yesterday that the series is coming to the new Paramount Plus streaming service at some point. Another 90s favorite that is set to return to the service is Rugrats, complete with the show’s original voice cast. The big change to Rugrats is a transition from 2D animation style that we know and that we love, to a 3D style reminiscent of the Charmin Bears commercials but hairless. Rugrats is set to appear on Paramount Plus this year, and—.


Akilah Hughes: [laughs] I really don’t think that’s how they pronounce about it. I’ve been saying it wrong this whole time. Thank you for correcting me.


Nicole Byer: For whatever reason, I like to call the plus platforms: Pluuuus.


Akilah Hughes: Disney Pluuus [laughs].


Nicole Byer: I don’t know why. And it will eventually be followed by two other shows that came out before kids and their target demographic were born: Dora the Explorer, and The Fairly Odd Parents—would both return as live action! Wow!


Akilah Hughes: Oooh, I’m auditioning tomorrow. I’ve got to be Wando.


Nicole Byer: Wow! How wild. That I didn’t know. I heard one of the most fun theories about Dora. It was like a meme, and this man was like, my wife very seriously was like, is Dora visually impaired? And then there was so many examples because she asks what things are that are right there.


Akilah Hughes: Oh yeah, all the time.


Nicole Byer: And she’s like, Swiper no Swiper? It’s like, why can’t she see Swiper?


Akilah Hughes: Yeah. She’s always like: do you all see the goat? [laughs]. And my nephew never responded. He would just look at me like: do we see the goat? [laughs] I don’t want to engage with her, let’s just see if she keeps talking and then she would so he was like . . .


Nicole Byer: Because you think it’s a trick. You like, is she, can she see it or she’s not seeing it? What is? She seeing what I’m seeing?


Akilah Hughes: Right. Are we looking at the same thing? Wow. Well, thank you so much, Nicole, for being here, choosing to do this and spend your core with us. Is there anything you would like to plug?


Nicole Byer: Oh, yeah. OK, so Wipeout comes out April 1st.


Akilah Hughes: Hell Yeah.


Nicole Byer: I have a podcast called Why Won’t You Date Me? That’s on Team CoCo’s network. Newcomer’s with Lauren Lapkus where we watch Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. Now we’re watching the Medea universe. [laughs]


Gideon Resnick: The original MCU.


Nicole Byer: And that’s on Headgum. And then I have a 90 day fiancée podcast on Patreon where me and my friend Marcy literally watch four hours of TV every week and then talk about it for a long time. I’m tired.


Akilah Hughes: You’re out here doing it. You are the hope for the future. You are truly, you know, Black history.


Nicole Byer: Well, I’m trying, I’m trying so hard to have my ancestors say: bitch, you can go to sleep if you want.


Aaron Bryant: [laughs] I mean, you know, you are an absolute joy. I’ve been wanting you to be on this podcast for so long and it finally happened. Oh, what a dream.


Nicole Byer: Thank you so much for having me—wait, do I have more to read.


Akilah Hughes: No, you’re good.


Gideon Resnick: No, that’s it.


Nicole Byer: Great. Ok.


Akilah Hughes:  You were perfect. And those are the headlines.


Gideon Resnick: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review. Don’t text evidence to your ex, and tell your friends to listen.


Akilah Hughes: And, if you’re into reading and not just Trump’s tax records cover to cover, like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out. Subscribe at I’m Akilah Hughes.


Gideon Resnick: I’m Gideon Resnick.


[together] And vote blue, Frasier!


Akilah Hughes: Yeah, like those scrambled eggs aren’t blue. They’re, they’re definitely voting Democrat.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah, I wish I had Frasier references to play in here, but I don’t and that’s a failure on my part.


Akilah Hughes: Tossed salad, scrambled eggs. [laughs] That’s all I got.


Akilah Hughes: What A Day is a production of Crooked Media.


Gideon Resnick: It’s recorded and mixed by Charlotte Landes.


Akilah Hughes: Sonia Htoon is our assistant producer.


Gideon Resnick: Our head writer is Jon Millstein and our executive producers are Katie Long, Akilah Hughes and me.


Akilah Hughes: Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.