Traverse City Record-Eagle


April 12, 2014

Fact Check: Eric Cantor, the fry cook and the whopper

Did you hear the story about President Obama and the fry cook? House Majority Leader Eric Cantor did, but he got it wrong.

Cantor writes in an op-ed that “a fry cook asked President Obama why his hours were being cut to part time because of Obamacare,” and then suggests the president ignored the question “by saying he was pushing to raise the minimum wage.” But the fry cook asked about low wages, not “why his hours were being cut,” and he wanted to know what the president and Congress are doing about it. Obama answered the question.

Cantor’s op-ed appeared March 27 on the ABC News website under the headline, “Let’s Restore Hourly Wages Cut By Obamacare.” It was re-posted elsewhere, including on the conservative World News Network website.

The op-ed opens with an anecdote about a Google+ Hangout exchange (14 minute mark) between the president and Darnell Summers, a 57-year-old fast-food fry cook from Milwaukee.

Cantor, March 27: On Jan. 31, a fry cook asked President Obama why his hours were being cut to part time because of Obamacare, and the president responded by saying he was pushing to raise the minimum wage.

This moment between the fry cook and the president reveals the entire reasoning of the Democratic Party’s push to raise the minimum wage. Rather than restore wages and hours lost by working middle-class Americans due to Obamacare, Democrats are hiding these losses behind a false debate about the minimum wage.

This is a case of an anecdote that is too good to check. It fits the GOP narrative and agenda, but it’s not accurate.

Summers did mention — in an aside — that he and others at his job site “were broken down to part-time to avoid paying health insurance,” but his focus and his question were about low hourly wages and what Washington could do about it. He said he makes only $7.25 per hour and has been on strike four times to get an increase, without success. Here’s his full question and the beginning of the president’s response, which focused entirely on Summers’ question about low wages:

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