Just a few weeks before his re-election bid, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) was asked whether minimum-wage laws should even exist. The Republican governor replied, “Well, I’m not going to repeal it but I don’t think it’s, I don’t think it serves a purpose.”
Seven months later, shortly after kicking off his GOP presidential campaign, Walker went just a little further. The Washington Post reported:
Scott Walker appeared to take aim at the national minimum wage on Monday evening, referring to it as one of many “lame ideas” pushed by Democrats.Walker’s comment came in a lengthy interview with Fox News’s Sean Hannity immediately following a speech formally announcing his entrance into the 2016 presidential race. Walker said the next president needs to speak the language of the industrial Midwest and connect with the working class.
According to the video, eagerly disseminated by Democratic officials, Walker told the Fox News host, “The left claims that they’re for American workers and they’ve just got just really lame ideas – things like the minimum wage.”
In context, there was nothing to suggest the governor was talking about his opposition to a minimum-wage increase, so much as the existence of the minimum wage itself. To hear Walker tell it, the law is a “lame” benefit for American workers.
It’s a pretty provocative move for a national candidate – increasing the minimum wage is one of the more popular ideas in the country right now, enjoying broad support for a wide range of voters. Just a month ago, a CBS News poll found 71% of Americans want to see the minimum wage go from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour – and that included a majority of self-identified Republican voters.
The Wisconsin governor, meanwhile, appears to support lowering the minimum wage to $0.
What’s just as interesting is how common this position has become in GOP circles. For decades, the debate was largely limited to those who wanted to raise the minimum wage and those who wanted to leave it unchanged. There were a few folks on the margins opposed to the law itself, but this was a fringe position that few took seriously.
This year, however, a growing number of presidential candidates are practically boasting about their hostility forwards the minimum wage. Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), for example, has suggested getting rid of the minimum altogether, arguing it’s not “the government’s business” to interfere with wages. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has said, plainly, “I don’t think a minimum wage law works.”
Earlier this year, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R), whom some see as a moderate, went so far as to say, “We need to leave it to the private sector. I think state minimum wages are fine. The federal government shouldn’t be doing this.”
Walker clearly wants to be part of the same club. Expect this to be a major issue in the 2016 elections.