A recent Gallup poll found that three-quarters of Americans, including 58 percent of Republicans, support raising the federal minimum wage. For whatever reason, that message isn’t getting across to Republican lawmakers, who unanimously rejected a House proposal to increase the federal wage to $10.10 by 2016 and peg future increases to inflation.
But not everyone on the right opposes a minimum wage increase. Here are six leading conservatives, ranging from software tycoon to media pundit, who’ve recently supported minimum wage hikes.
1. Silicon Valley multimillionaire and former publisher Ron Unz
Ron Unz, who made millions writing software for the mortgage-backed securities industry and rose to political prominence opposing bilingual education, supports raising California’s minimum wage from $8 to $12 by 2016. In fact, he submitted the language for a current ballot measure that would do just that.
“There are so many very low-wage workers, and we pay for huge social welfare programs for them,” Unz told The New York Times in November. “This would save something on the order of tens of billions of dollars. Doesn’t it make more sense for employers to pay their workers than the government?”
2. Illinois Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner
(Citizens for Rauner)
It took almost a month for gubernatorial hopeful Bruce Rauner to figure out his stance on Illinois’s minimum wage. In December, Rauner reportedly pledged in a candidate’s forum to slash the state’s minimum wage from $8.25 to $7.25, in line with the federal rate. But when reporters pressed him on those comments, Rauner turned a complete 180.
As of January 8, Rauner supports “raising the national minimum wage so that other states are in line with Illinois.” He would also favor raising Illinois’s minimum wage should Congress fail to pass a federal wage hike, so long as any move is “in conjunction with reforms that lower the costs on small businesses so we don’t inadvertently hurt the people we are trying to help.”
3. Fox News host Bill O’Reilly
“Ten bucks is OK with me.”
4. Conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly
(CC License 2.2, Gage Skidmore)
Phyllis Schlafly, the vocal opponent of same-sex marriage, reproductive rights and immigration reform, who denies the existence of marital rape, recently wrote that “raising the minimum wage may actually be worth considering.”
In a column syndicated by Creators, she follows Ron Unz in arguing that raising the minimum wage to reduce welfare spending “is a tradeoff Republicans could support.” Schlafly writes, “If raising the minimum wage raises an individual above the government-prescribed poverty level, raising the minimum wage could benefit taxpayers.”
5. RNC member Henry Barbour
RNC member Henry Barbour, nephew of former Mississippi governor Haley, is a top Republican lobbyist and strategist. Following the 2012 election, Barbour was one of five people commissioned by the GOP to write the “Growth and Opportunity Project,” to determine how to make party appeal to the next generation of American voters. He recently had this to say about Obama’s minimum wage proposal (via NBC):
As Republicans, in my opinion, we shouldn’t just stiff arm that because there are legitimate needs of working people…You’ve got single moms who are trying to pay for two kids and make the rent and pay for groceries and medical bills. If she’s working for $8.00 an hour and she’s got two different jobs, we’ve got to be very sensitized to the worker in America and their needs.
6. Sixty-two Current Republican Senators and Representatives (assuming Bush is in the White House)
In 2007, President George W. Bush signed a minimum wage increase from $5.15 an hour to the current rate of $7.25. According to NBC’s count, at least sixty-two current Republican lawmakers in Washington who held federal office in 2007 voted for that wage hike. What is stopping them now?