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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez slammed for comparing Denmark McDonald's pay to US' minimum wage: 'Can't be serious'

'McD’s workers in Denmark are paid $22/hr + 6 wks paid vacation. $15/hr is a deep compromise'
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez questions Postmaster General Louis DeJoy before the House Oversight and Reform Committee (Getty Images)
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez questions Postmaster General Louis DeJoy before the House Oversight and Reform Committee (Getty Images)

New York Rep Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez has been slammed for comparing the US' minimum wage to that of Denmark. The Congresswoman was responding to the news that the Democrats could not include a wage rise in their Covid-19 bill, after the hike was ruled out by Senate Parliamentarian Current parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough. The issue has become a key flashpoint for the Democrats, with Sanders and Pelosi backing the move but others like Manchin and even President Joe Biden saying it may not happen.

Republicans have opposed the bill, arguing that it could affect small businesses. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is now looking at other ways to pass the bill, including offering tax benefits to businesses that go for wage rise. Currently, the federal minimum wage is set at $7.25 per hour, which the Democrats want to increase to $15 per hour by 2025. WIth a split Senate, any vote to increase the wage would require 60 votes.


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In a tweet, AOC called for the Democrats to "Override the parliamentarian and raise the wage" and said that "it is utterly embarrassing that “pay people enough to live” is a stance that’s even up for debate." She also compared the wage of McDonald's workers in Denmark to the minimum wage in the US.


Minimum wage - the US vs Denmark

The Democrats first tried to pass the $15 per hour increase under the Obama administration, but it was killed by then-Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell. With the victories in Georgia, the Democrats now control the Senate and are aiming to bypass the 'filibuster' that requires 60 Senators to vote to pass a bill. One way to do that is through budget reconciliation, which would need only 51 votes. That process was dead after Elizabeth MacDonough ruled that the wage hike could not pass that way.

The issue is top priority for many Democratic leaders, with the Covid-19 pandemic forcing millions to rely on welfare benefits due to little or no savings. Denmark does not have a government-mandated minimum wage requirement and has even argued against establishing one. In the country, trade unions are responsible for wage bargaining. The country has a median minimum wage of around $16 per hour. 

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (Getty Images)

AOC isn't the first to compare the US' working conditions with Denmark. Back in May 2020, Sanders said "this is what a civilized society is about" and tweeted "In Denmark, starting pay at McDonald’s is about $22 an hour. The workers there get six weeks of paid vacation, a year’s paid maternity leave and a pension plan. Like all Danes, they enjoy universal medical insurance and paid sick leave. This is what a civilized society is about."


The debate is not so straightforward as that. Denmark not only has a smaller population, but also higher tax brackets. The lowest income tax rate in the country is 36% and the highest around 56% according to a 2020 Deloitte report. In comparison, the US taxes income from 10-37%. Naturally, the comparison earned AOC an earful from the Internet.

US Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez prepares to wait tables at the Queensboro Restaurant for promoting minimum wage law (Getty Images)

Twitter says 'it's ridiculous'

WIthin minutes, AOC's tweet went viral, with many people condemning her comparison. Oone user said, "Denmark pop: 5,792,202 people U.S pop: 331 million people It's ridiculous to make such a comparison!!" Another tweeted "Omg. Please take a course in economics. You can't be serious." One user said "@AOC You should definitely move to Denmark!" Another tried to school AOC: "Denmark doesn’t have a minimum wage you absolute clown. The idea that people take AOC seriously is what’s utterly embarrassing" they said.





McDonald's has become the de-facto punching bag for the wage debate. Many pointed out that doing so would only harm the economy further. "The rich don’t eat at McDonalds, it’s the middle class. If McDonalds pays $15@hour, who do you think will actually be affected? The people that eat there will be paying higher cost" one user tweeted. Another pointed that rising the wage in the US would do more harm than good, tweeting: "McDonald’s can afford to pay people $15 an hour. The mom & pop hamburger place can’t. which means they will have to close down, funneling all that business to? All you’re doing is making sure more wealth goes to the corporations/elite. You know the thing that you claim to hate?"