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Ear to the Ground

Mitt Romney Backs Minimum Wage Increase, Promises Not to Run for President

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Posted on May 9, 2014

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Last season’s GOP presidential nominee has said for at least the third time that he is definitely not running again in 2016. More interestingly, he is the latest Republican to call for an increase in the minimum wage.

His party peers in the House and Senate recently blocked an effort to do just that, and Republicans have long characterized a higher wage as a job killer. Back in 2012, Romney supported the idea of increasing the minimum wage to keep pace with inflation, but he reversed himself after the Wall Street Journal editorial page and other conservative voices attacked him.

There are other prominent Republicans calling for a wage increase. The Los Angeles Times counts former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum among them.

The problem is getting Republicans who actually hold office to agree. Pawlenty, as the Times notes, had a chance to raise his state’s minimum wage when he was governor, and he vetoed the measure.

The real question is not whether the wage should go up, but by how much and whether to tie it to inflation. Some progressives are campaigning for a $15 minimum wage, while the bill that recently died in the Senate would have set the floor at $10.10. A conservative Republican hike might be more modest.

Currently, the actual value of the minimum wage is substantially less in terms of buying power than it held in 1968.

—Posted by Peter Z. Scheer

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