Earlier this week during a televised debate, the two candidates running in the special election for Georgia’s 6th congressional district were asked a simple question: Do you support a minimum wage increase?

The answer from one of the candidates was shocking. Watch it here.

In case you missed what Karen Handel said:

“…I do not support a livable wage. What I support is making sure that we have an economy that is robust with low taxes and less regulation…”

Really Ms. Handel? Really?!

A few facts about the district that she’s hoping to represent in Congress and the reality of worker’s wages:

  1. More than 31,000 Georgians in the 6th district live in poverty
  2. More than 62,000 Georgians in the 6th district make less than the national median income.
  3. Making the minimum wage is not sufficient to live above the poverty line. Research from the Economic Policy Institute found that families of two or more earning $7.25 per hour working 40 hours a week only earn $15,080. The Federal Poverty Line for a family of 2 is $16,240.
  4. Research from MIT showed that a family of two or more would have to make $13.17 an hour to earn a livable wage in Cobb CountyThat’s nearly $6 an hour more than the current minimum wage in Georgia.

Not surprisingly, Ms .Handel defended the indefensible by trotting out the same tired and bogus talking points about lower taxes and less regulation that you hear from lobbyists and powerful corporate interests about the impact on small businesses.

It’s simply cruel to ask anyone to live in poverty to satisfy your trickle-down economics fantasy.

The alternative? There is overwhelming evidence that increasing the minimum wage actually boosts the economy because more people have extra money in their pockets to spend on the basic necessities like food, gas and child care.

Millions of people in the six states that increased the minimum wage last year have already received more than $1 billion in raises. At The Fairness Project, we’ve heard countless stories of people in these states who are now better able to make ends meet. Who gets credit for those raises? Not Congress. Not state legislatures. Those raises were won by voters for themselves and their neighbors through ballot measures.

Politicians in Atlanta have failed over and over again to do what’s right by the working families in the Peach State. And unfortunately, Georgia doesn’t allow citizens to introduce ballot measures. Only the paternalistic state legislators can decide which issues make it to the ballot. They block their own constituents right to take matters into their own hands and put a minimum wage increase on the ballot.

That’s why it’s even more important that the people of Georgia’s 6th district elect a new member of congress who understands the real struggle people are facing and is willing to fight for a livable wage.