It’s been a big week for American workers. On Wednesday, progressives introduced bills in the House and Senate to increase the federal minimum wage to $15 and, in a letter, called on Obama to issue an executive order raising the minimum wage of federal contract workers to $15. New York is set to approve a fast food minimum wage increase to $15 within the next few days. And the University of California system has set wages for its employees at a $15 minimum.
Sixty-three percent of Americans support a minimum wage increase to $15 by 2020, and 75 percent of Americans support raising the federal minimum wage to at least $12.50. Yet the federal minimum wage has not been raised since 2009, when it was increased to its current level of $7.25 per hour.
We rounded up of the opinions of the Republican presidential candidates on the minimum wage. A few see the light, but most of them oppose supporting our American workers with a wage increase. A few even advocate getting rid of it altogether.
Donald Trump – Says raising the minimum wage creates “a lot of problems.” (Like reducing poverty and creating jobs?) Supports creating two minimum wages, one for high school students and a slightly higher one for adults.
Jeb Bush - Supports eliminating the federal minimum wage: “We need to leave it to the private sector...The federal government shouldn’t be doing this. The federal government doing this will make it harder and harder for the first rung of the ladder to be reached, particularly for young people, particularly for people that have less education.”
Believes the minimum wage “perpetuates” poverty.
Scott Walker - “I’m not going to repeal it, but I don’t think it serves a purpose.” (Besides protecting low-wage workers from receiving even less pay?)
"The left claims they're for American workers, and they've just got really lame ideas. Things like the minimum wage.”
Walker signed a budget into law in Wisconsin this year that changes language so that Wisconsin workers are merely guaranteed a minimum wage rather than a living wage, eliminating the ability for minimum wage workers to challenge their pay in court.
Marco Rubio – Believes a focus on the minimum wage is “a waste of time.”
“My problem with raising the minimum wage is not that I want to deny someone $10.10. I'm worried about the people whose wages are going to go down to zero because you've made them more expensive than a machine." (Actually the minimum wage is so low, a boost would likely create jobs.)
Though has said “I’m not for repealing the minimum wage.”
Ben Carson – Supports raising the minimum wage, and believes it is a way for individuals to be removed from public assistance programs.
But has also praised minimum wage work: "It’s important for those in poverty to work hard, even with minimal wages they gain knowledge and skill that will allow for upward progress."
“Recognize that if you go and take that chicken job, you gain skills, relationships, the possibility of moving up the ladder. So a year or two or five down the road, you’re no longer in that position. This is what people have forgotten.”
Rand Paul – Doesn’t support increasing the minimum wage.
“It is a fact, an economic fact, that when you raise the minimum wage, the people that are hurt the worst are minorities and kids” (Actually a CAP study found raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 would boost wages for people of color by over $16 billion.)
He said last year that a $6 minimum wage is “fine.”
Mike Huckabee – Believes the minimum wage hurts entry-level workers.
“Instead of fighting over the minimum wage, why don’t we focus on solutions that help every American earn his or her maximum wage.”
“If you get suckered into believing some politician is looking out for you because he wants to keep you locked into a low minimum wage, tell him you've got a better idea. Tell him you can do better than his minimum wage.”
He argues that Jesus would oppose the minimum wage, as an example of people who want to be paid more than they originally agreed to.
But as governor he signed into law a minimum wage increase in Arkansas in 2006.
Ted Cruz – "I think the minimum wage consistently hurts the most vulnerable.” (If you mean “hurt” as in “lift 5 million out of poverty.”)
He has said $0 is the “real Obama minimum wage.”
“If you raise the minimum wage, the inevitable effect will be, number one, young people will lose their jobs or not be able to get their first jobs.”
“Unemployment among young people will go up if the minimum wage goes up as President Obama says. Unemployment among Hispanics, among African Americans, among those struggling to get their first job to climb the economic ladder, will go up.”
Chris Christie – “I’m tired of hearing about the minimum wage. I really am. I don’t think there’s a mother or father sitting around a kitchen table tonight saying ‘you know honey, if our son or daughter could just make a higher minimum wage, my god – all our dreams would be realized.” (Polling support suggests three in four Americans are doing just that.)
“Ninety-five percent of all the jobs that were created in my home state were above the minimum wage.” (Which actually turns out to be incorrect. 95% of all jobs in Texas were above the minimum wage, not 95% of newly created jobs.) “So, the idea that you should be focused on the minimum wage, when in fact, you should be focused on policies that create this environment where jobs can be created.”
He’s also unsure if it is the federal government’s duty to set a minimum wage.
John Kasich – Is “concerned” about raising the minimum wage, though was powerless to stop an automatic fifteen-cent minimum wage increase in Ohio.
Rick Santorum – Supports a small increase to the minimum wage.
Thinks it is important that Republicans support a wage hike to reach out to the middle class.
"I've proposed a 50 cents an hour raise per year for three years. Keeping it in that area provides a floor for wages — a worker protection device — and it doesn't have an inflationary effect on wages or increase unemployment."
"It's hard to go out and make the argument that Republicans are making that this is going to have some sort of cataclysmic effect on workers. For me, it's a worker protection issue, and also an issue that connects with the people who look at the Republican agenda and don't see anything concrete that indicates we have any understanding of what folks experience at the lower end of the income spectrum."
Has incorrectly argued that 62% of minimum wage workers are still in high school, when the actual number is closer to a third.
Bobby Jindal – "I'm not ideologically opposed to ever raising the minimum wage, I just don't think now is the right moment.” (When is?)
Lindsey Graham – Voted to increase the federal minimum wage to $7.25 in 2007, though voted against a 2014 proposal to increase the federal minimum wage to $10.10.
George Pataki – Believes raising the minimum wage is “an easy way to show compassion.”
“What isn’t being said is the other side of the equation...there’s not one economist that doesn’t realize that when you raise the minimum wage you increase the unemployment rate.”
In the Bloomberg segment, anchor Erik Schatzker points out that Paul Kruger, among many other economists, disagrees with Pataki’s statement.
This is a repeat of a claim he’s made before on Bloomberg.
And for kicks:
Mitt Romney – Supports raising the minimum wage. "Our party is all about more jobs and better pay."
Emily Foster and Richard Long contributed to this post.