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Twitter users skewered the speaker of the U.S. House with this attack:
Paul Ryan doesn’t know what the minimum wage is in Wisconsin.
Numerous tweets, made on Sept. 11, 2017, and more so over the previous several days, suggest the Janesville Republican has no idea what the minimum hourly rate of pay is in his home state.
But that’s not really what went down.
On Sept. 7, 2017, Ryan was on a live webcast interview with the New York Times before an audience in Washington, D.C. The newspaper described it as "the first in a provocative new TimesTalks D.C. series."
At one point, Jonathan Weisman, deputy Washington editor for the Times, asked: "What’s the minimum wage in Wisconsin right now?"
Ryan immediately said, "Seven --" then looks upward, apparently trying to recall the rest.
Then he says: "What is it? Seven and t--."
Perhaps he was starting to say twenty-five, or some figure in the twenties.
At that moment, there’s a response from the audience, Ryan looks to the audience and correctly says: $7.25.
So, if Ryan didn’t know the rate exactly at that moment, he certainly was in the ballpark.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, as of July 1, 2017, Wisconsin and Iowa were among 14 states with a minimum wage at $7.25 per hour. Twenty-nine states, plus the District of Columbia, had higher rates, with D.C.’s being the highest, at $12.50.
The federal rate applies in states that have minimum wage laws at rates below the federal rate, or that have no minimum wage law at all.
For the record, a Times news article said Ryan made it clear in the interview that he opposes legislation to change the federal minimum wage, saying: "For every wage you raise, you actually end up losing jobs. You end up destroying jobs."
Tweets say: "Paul Ryan doesn't know what the minimum wage is in Wisconsin."
Asked the amount in an interview, Ryan didn’t give a complete answer until he heard what a member of the listening audience said.
But he had immediately started his answer by saying "Seven," and seemed on the verge of adding 25 cents, or some figure in the twenties, before the audience member interjected. That’s when Ryan correctly said $7.25.
For a statement that contains only an element of truth, our rating is Mostly False.
New York Times, "4 Takeaways From The Times’s Interview With Paul D. Ryan," Sept. 7, 2017
Email, Paul Ryan press secretary Ian Martorana, Sept. 11, 2017
New York Times, webcast interview of Paul Ryan, Sept. 7, 2017
YouTube, clip of Paul Ryan interview, Sept. 7, 2017
Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, "Minimum wage," accessed Sept. 11, 2017
U.S. Department of Labor, "Minimum wage," accessed Sept. 11, 2017
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