Inn this June 6, 2018, photo, Senior White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow speaks during a briefing at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Susan Walsh

Top White House official blasts minimum wage as ‘terrible’ and ‘silly’

Updated

It’s too soon to say with certainty whether Democrats will have any power in the next Congress, but if they do, the party will a have long list of priorities it’ll be eager to pursue, including an overdue increase to the federal minimum wage.

Any chance the White House might be willing to compromise on this? Evidently not. The Washington Post  reported on the latest comments from Larry Kudlow, the director of Donald Trump’s National Economic Council.

“My view is a federal minimum wage is a terrible idea. A terrible idea,” Kudlow said at a Washington Post Live event, adding that raising it would “damage” small businesses by forcing them to face higher payroll costs. Kudlow later called the idea of hiking the federal minimum wage “silly.” […]

Kudlow appeared to also oppose minimum wages at the state and local levels, citing conservative arguments that it constrains business growth by adding to their costs. But he said the federal government shouldn’t interfere.

“I would argue against state and local, but that’s up to the states and localities,” Kudlow said.

In other words, the top voice on economic policy in the White House doesn’t believe the current minimum wage should be $7.25; he thinks it should be zero.

And while this is a fairly radical position – most Americans believe the minimum wage should both exist and be higher than it is now – it’s also in line with what Donald Trump had to say during the 2016 campaign. During one especially memorable Fox News interview, Bill O’Reilly noted there “has to be a federal minimum wage.” Trump replied, “There doesn’t have to be.”

What’s more, let’s not look past the electoral context of Kudlow’s latest comments.

We are, after all, five days out from the midterm elections, and a whole lot of working families are going to choose which party best represents their interests. Democrats would love nothing more than to have a spirited fight right now over whether minimum-wage workers deserve a raise.

It’s against this backdrop that Donald Trump’s top adviser on economic policy declared that the White House will not only reject Democratic efforts at a wage hike, but also his belief that the wage law itself is “terrible” and “silly.”

All of this comes just six weeks after Larry Kudlow appeared at a different forum where he talked up the idea of cutting social insurance programs – “entitlements” such as Medicare – as early as “next year.”

If Democrats are lucky, Larry Kudlow will keep on talking.