When it comes to the Republican presidential race, one of the more notable surprises of the last few months came shortly before the New Hampshire primary. Mitt Romney was asked a simple question about raising the minimum wage.
The response sounded more like a previous version of Romney than the current iteration: “My view has been to allow the minimum wage to rise with the [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.”
Well, it was his view. The National Employment Law Project Action Fund put together a video noting that Romney, two months after the surprising declaration, has backed off the progressive position that drew the ire of the right.
The Huffington Post reported that the shift occurred when Romney was pressed by CNBC’s Larry Kudlow this week.
On Monday the business show host pressed Romney on the minimum wage issue, saying that “a lot of conservatives, led by the Wall Street Journal editorial page, were horrified when you said you want to index the minimum wage for inflation … Why do you want to raise the minimum wage?”
First Romney responded by saying that he had vetoed a proposed boost to the minimum wage while governor of Massachusetts. Explaining his comments about pegging the minimum wage to inflation, Romney said, “The level of inflation is something you should look at, and you should identify what’s the right way to keep America competitive.”
“So that would tell you that right now there’s probably not a need to raise the minimum wage,” he added.
As is generally the case when Romney abandons previous positions, this shift on the minimum wage isn’t impressing anyone. Those who were impressed by the position he took in January are dejected by the candidate’s apparent flip-flop. Those who were appalled by Romney’s original position aren’t sure if he’s fully abandoned that approach, or simply prefers to delay automatic minimum wage increases.
Conservative economist Michael Saltsman, an aggressive critic of the minimum wage, told HuffPost, “Either adjusting the minimum wage for inflation is a good thing or it isn’t, and conservatives are right to try and nail the governor down on an answer.”
Given the frequency with which Romney tries to dodge issues, it’s amazing just how common this sentiment really is.