Bloomberg News this week offered the state of Washington as a powerful rebuttal to those who claim hiking the minimum wage would kill jobs. Washington, it turns out, has had the nation's highest minimum wage since 1998 and over the past 15 years enjoyed annual job growth well above the national average. New Jersey, too, has seen faster job creation since its new $8.25 hourly wage went into effect in January.
But not everyone Bloomberg interviewed is happy about those numbers. Joe Olivo, president of Moorestown, New Jersey-based Perfect Printing, opposes the raise for lower-income working Americans. But if that name sounds familiar, it should. As it turns out, "everyman" small business owner Joe Olivo is regularly trotted out as a right-wing poster child to protest the supposedly dire impact of the minimum wage, Obamacare, a millionaire's tax, the estate tax, unemployment benefits and just about anything Democrats advocate.
The ersatz small business job creator became ubiquitous in media stories after the Supreme Court's ruling in the 2012 NFIB v. Sebelius case that upheld the Affordable Care Act. But as Alternet, Balloon Juice, Media Matters and others documented, left unmentioned was the fact that Joe Olivo is a prominent member of and donor to NFIB, the National Federation of Independent Business. After reviewing segments from NBC and NPR in June 2012, No More Mister Nice Blog revealed that Olivo the printing proprietor was also a plaintiff:
Wow -- two news organizations covering the same story scoured the nation for a random small business owner to comment on that story -- and they both found the same one! How'd that happen? What are the odds?Please read below the fold for more on this story.
Well, as it turns out, Joe Olivo of Perfect Printing turns up quite a bit in public discussions of this and other issues. Here he is testifying against the health care law before House and Senate committees in January 2011. Here he is on the Fox Business Network around the same time, discussing the same subject. Here he is a few days ago, also on Fox Business, talking to John Stossel about the law. Here he is discussing the same subject on a New Jersey Fox affiliate.
And here he is in July 2010 discussing small business hiring with Neil Cavuto on Fox News. Here he is opposing an increase in the minimum wage in an MSNBC debate a couple of weeks ago.
Two weeks later, NPR's own ombudsman concluded that Olivo "is quoted so often and has had such a public role that he has ceased to be an ordinary small businessperson" and "shouldn't have been interviewed at all." (Especially since he testified to the House Ways and Means Committee on January 26, 2011, about his opposition to the Affordable Care Act.) As NPR's Edward Schumacher-Matos lamented, "The shame is that another five minutes invested in a Google search on both stories would have found Olivo's numerous media appearances promoted by the NFIB."
That same five minute time investment could have saved Bloomberg News from publishing this on Friday:
Joe Olivo, the chief executive officer of Perfect Printing, a Moorestown, New Jersey, company that makes materials such as marketing brochures for businesses, was among those who opposed the state's minimum-wage increase. Since it began, he hasn't cut his 48-person staff. Instead, he's looking to pass on the costs by raising prices, a step that he said could impede his business's ability to grow and hire in the future.You'd never know that Joe Olivo was chair of the National Federation of Independent Business/New Jersey Leadership Council or that, according to publicly available databases, he had contributed thousands of dollars to NFIB and Republican candidates like Rep. Jon Runyan (R-NJ) and Steve Lonergan. You also might not know, as he revealed in this 2000 story about his opposition to the estate tax, that Joe Olivo built his business the old fashioned way: he inherited it.
"If I am losing work and I have less money to grow, what good does it do for those employees that are looking for future work?" said Olivo, 47. "The people that are looking for jobs find it harder."
Joe Olivo, who helps run a family-owned printing shop in Cherry Hill, backs the campaign in Congress to repeal the estate tax. Every year, he pays $12,000 for life insurance and financial advice so that he and his two brothers will not have to sell the $3.5 million business to pay the federal estate tax when they inherit it from their 56-year-old mother, Ann Olivo.With the estate tax exemption now at $5 million, Joe Olivo won't need to work so hard. That should free him to spend more time on your television playing the role of a small business owner.
He, like many Congress members, thinks that the estate tax is an unreasonable burden on entrepreneurs and farmers who want to pass their businesses on to their children.