Mitt Romney wants lawmakers to raise the federal minimum wage.
Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential candidate, responded to questions on a wide range of domestic and international issues during an interview today on MSNBC’s liberal roundtable Morning Joe.
Even if the Congress doesn’t act, the states on an individual basis can raise the minimum wage rate for hourly workers, and some have already done so. Then again, there is a question as to why government establishes a minimum wage (regardless of the dollar amount) on employers in the first place rather then letting marketplaces forces govern. But that’s another matter.
As far as the federal minimum wage, Romney — a successful businessman and former Massachusetts governor — explained that he has a different view than many of his fellow Republicans serving in Congress: “I, for instance, as you know, part company with many of the conservatives in my party on the issue of the minimum wage. I think we ought to raise it. Because frankly, our party is all about more jobs and better pay, and I think communicating that is important to us. I also believe that key to our party is being able to convince the people who are in the working population, particularly in the Hispanic community, that our party will help them get better jobs and better wages, and that’s what our party’s beliefs do. The Democratic Party has shown over their leadership that income inequality has become worse, and the policies of the past five years have not worked for Hispanic families, for African American families; minority families have been the most hard hit in these past five years.”
During the interview, Romney ruled out running again for president. He spoke enthusiastically about a number of potential 2016 GOP presidential contenders including Paul Ryan, Chris Christie, Susan Martinez, Jeb Bush, and Scott Walker.
When asked about former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton refusing to label Boko Haram as a terrorist organization when she was in office, Romney noted that she needs come forward now and explain her reasoning.
As far as her tenure generally as Secretary of State, Romney added that “That’s going to be an enormous liability for her. Because this is, after all, the evidence of her leadership capacity. And frankly, the four years that she served as Secretary of State were not good years for the United States of America abroad. She worked hard, and she shook a lot of hands, and people said ‘Boy, she’s been on the airplane a lot, and that’s a good thing.’ But if you look around the world… this was not a good time for America… her record there is a very substantial liability for her campaign in 2016… it’s going to raise a lot of questions about her capacity to actually accomplish things of significance, particularly on foreign soil.”
Getting back to the minimum wage debate, hard-working people deserve to earn more, perhaps the minimum-wage worker most of all. The minimum wage (whether it is set at $10.10 or another arbitrary amount) is meant to be an entry level pay grade, however, not a source of permanent income. In the normal course of events, workers acquire additional skills (and are incentivized to do so) and get promoted or move on to other more lucrative jobs, and thereby increase their take-home pay. Granted, in the real world, however, there are too many employers that operate in an arbitrary, unfair, exploitive, or greedy manner when it comes to pay. But increasing the minimum wage while the economy is still flat would seem to discourage employers from hiring more entry level workers, and the Congressional Budget Office has determined that it would result in 500,000 workers losing their jobs. It also puts upward pressure on wages, which is great for workers, but problematic for small businesses trying to keep their doors open. In the meantime, US labor force participation has hit a 30-year low, while another study suggests that businesses are collapsing faster than they are being created.
[image credit: Gage Skidmore]
Watch the full Mitt Romney MSNBC interview during which he advocates a minimum wage hike and addresses other issues: