Baby Meds Cost Ryan on Minimum-Wage Challenge

WASHINGTON – Medicines for his infant son put U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan into early trouble as he began his attempt to live on live on a minimum-wage income for a week

Thursday, the first day of the Live the Wage Challenge, “started a little rocky,” Ryan, D-13 Ohio, reported on Facebook. His wife, Andrea, had informed him that they had to pick up “a couple of prescriptions” for their new baby, Brady. The medications cost $24.

 “So we are down to $130 before we even got started,” he wrote in a post on Facebook.

Under the experiment, the Ryans are living for a week on $154, what would be left if each worked full time earning the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, following estimated living expenses and taxes.  The congressman is chronicling his family’s experiences on Facebook. (CLICK HERE)

For dinner the night before, he reported, his family ate leftovers from a party thrown in honor of the new baby, the kids having pizza and his wife having salad. “Can’t waste anything,” he wrote Thursday. Not having had time to go to the store and reluctant to “waste too much money” on a single meal at the cafeteria, he snacked on fruit and nuts in the office and planned to get sardines and crackers for dinner.

Ryan and his colleagues U.S. Reps. Jan Schackowsky and Keith Ellison, along with former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, are participating participate in the challenge to call attention to the need to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. The last increase in the federal minimum wage was five years ago.

Schakowsky, D-9 Ill., also has been posting about her experiences on Facebook, posting her menus for the week and a link to an article on Politico.com detailing an interview with Fox News host Neil Cavuto about raising the minimum wage and the living-wage experiment. 

“You have to consider every penny,” she told Cavuto according to the article. “You have to plan for everything. There’s no spontaneity.”

Here are Ryan’s Facebook posts regarding how he and family are living the minimum wage challenge:

July 25, 2014:

For dinner last night, I bought two cans of sardines and a box of rice crackers (Cost $7). I like sardines so this was a good dinner. I picked them up at a market on Capitol Hill, so they were a little more expensive than usual, sardines are a just over a dollar in Ohio and in DC they were over two dollars each. Andrea and the kids had rice pasta (Cost $4) last night with vodka sauce (Cost $3) for dinner last night. We try to watch our gluten intake so we usually chose rice pasta; however, it is a little bit more expensive.

The kids all had pancakes for breakfast yesterday (Cost $2) and cereal for breakfast today (Cost $3.50). For lunch, the crew back in Ohio finished the leftover pizza, deviled eggs and watermelon from yesterday’s party. I was still in Washington, so I grabbed a piece of pizza for lunch at the cafeteria on Capitol Hill (Cost $3). It was not a good use of money, but I was starving and rationalized it because I didn’t have breakfast.

Andrea had $6 coupon, so she was able to buy milk and one cleaning supply from CVS. Then she signed up for another ($3) coupon by giving CVS her email, which means we have an extra $3 to spend over the next couple of days.

Today, I drove back to Ohio from Washington and didn’t have any food, so I picked up a whopper from Burger King (Cost $5). This was a terrible investment, honestly I can’t remember the last fast food hamburger I ate, but I must admit it was pretty good. I also bought a cup of coffee for the road (Cost $2).

Tonight I’m gonna spend some time with the family, so we will tally all of the expenses up tomorrow and let you know what we have left. We have plans to go to the Howland farmer’s market tomorrow to see what we can get for the rest of the challenge. Stay tuned….

On a side note, as I’ve said in every interview I have given, we are not going to get anywhere close to the real challenges that families face on tight incomes or the daily stressors that are constant and at times overwhelming. My wife and I already have a better understanding of these challenges and hope that our sharing can bring awareness to the public in order to bring about the fundamental changes we want to see in our country.

Will the Ryans make it through Day 3? Maybe it’s time to sign up for the Ohio Food Assistance Program. Stay tuned …

Posted 7:30 p.m. July 27, 2014:

Stat of the day: If min wage was increased for inflation since 1968, it would be $10.90/hr.
Up to this point, we've spent $62, including some prescriptions ($24). At the beginning of this challenge, I was in DC and the family was home in Ohio, which unfortunately led to a couple of bad purchases on my part…that being pizza and fast food. My family fared better than I did – they were able to get some staples, such as rice pasta.
Saturday we picked up a couple of pears, about a pound of bananas, some chocolate chip cookie mix, creamer, popcorn, and packet of Kool-Aid for Bella to color strands in her hair ($12).
After church on today, we stopped at a farmer's stand while driving home. We got 13 ears of corn, 5 bell peppers, 6 peaches, 6 squash, 3 zucchini and a watermelon ($23). Hoping this purchase, along with some more eggs, can carry us for a couple more days. After we drove home, we had pancakes for lunch.
We have allocated about $25-30 dollars for transportation. As I've said, Andrea is a teacher and off for the summer, if it was during the school year transportation would have been closer to $60 for a normal week.
As I sat in church this morning, I contemplated the fact if minimum wage was higher, families would have extra money to throw in the basket. What would an increase in the wage mean for our states, communities or local our churches that do so much?
Around $30 and some food for the next four days.

Pictured: U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan and his son Brady.

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