WASHINGTON, D.C. Jan. 11, 2012 - Responding to a rope-line question at a campaign event on Saturday in Derry, New Hampshire, former Governor Mitt Romney stated that he favors raising the minimum wage automatically each year so that it keeps pace with inflation. Mr. Romney's position breaks from conventional GOP opposition to raising the minimum wage.
When asked his position on the minimum wage, Mr. Romney said, "My view has been to allow the minimum wage to rise with the CPI [Consumer Price Index] or with another index so that it adjusts automatically over time…. I already indicated that when I was governor of Massachusetts and that's my view." Video of Mr. Romney's support for indexing the minimum wage can be found here.
The National Employment Law Project Action Fund applauded Romney's support for raising the minimum wage to keep up with the rising cost of living. "Raising the minimum wage helps working families who are struggling to make ends meet and generates additional consumer spending that our economy desperately needs," said Christine Owens of the National Employment Law Project Action Fund. "While Governor Romney's economic platform is largely a giveaway to the 1 percent, his support for automatic increases in the minimum wage to keep up with inflation is one policy that will help the Main Street economy--and the families who live and work there--recover."
At a campaign event Monday in Hudson, New Hampshire, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich expressed surprise at Romney's stance. When asked if he shares the same position as Governor Romney, Gingrich said, "No, and I'm surprised that's his position." Video of Mr. Gingrich's response to Mr. Romney is available here.
Recent polling found that two-thirds of Americans – a bipartisan majority – support raising the minimum wage to $10 and then indexing it to inflation to keep up with the rising cost of living.
Mr. Romney's support for indexing sharply contrasts with recent Republican-led efforts to weaken minimum wage laws in the past year in states such as New Hampshire, Maine, Ohio, Florida and Missouri. In Florida and Missouri, legislators have taken direct aim at statutes that provide for annual indexing of the minimum wage.
Ten states have adopted the practice pegging the minimum wage to the Consumer Price Index so that it automatically increases to keep pace with the cost of living. Last week, eight of these states increased their minimum wages between 28 and 37 cents. The minimum wage increases that took place on January 1 in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Washington, and Vermont raised wages for more than 1.4 million workers. The increased consumer spending generated by the raises will lead to an additional $366 million in GDP and create the equivalent of more than 3,000 full-time jobs, according to an analysis by the Economic Policy Institute.
Romney's statement reaffirms a position he first took when running for Massachusetts Governor in 2002, but later appeared to back away from when he ran for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination. Conservatives such as Sen. Pat Toomey have criticized Romney's position in the past, saying, "I think that indexing the minimum wage is a problem for Gov. Romney."
During the 2008 presidential campaign, President Obama endorsed raising the federal minimum wage to $9.50 by 2011 and then indexing it based on the Consumer Price Index. The federal minimum is currently $7.25 per hour, or roughly $15,000 a year for a full-time worker. If it had been indexed based on the Consumer Price Index since 1968, it would be approximately $10.40 today.
"While Mr. Romney's support for raising the minimum wage to keep up with inflation is a step in the right direction, President Obama's proposal to raise the minimum wage by more than $2 and subsequently index it to inflation goes significantly further toward restoring the value of the minimum wage, which has declined dramatically in the last 40 years," said Owens.
The National Employment Law Project Action Fund, is a project of The Advocacy Fund, a non-profit organization under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code.
Help us bring you more news. Be a real reader:
By submitting a comment you consent to our rules. You must use your real first and last name, not a nickname or alias. A comment here is just like a letter to the editor or a post on Facebook. Thank you.