Connecticut GOP Senate nominee Linda McMahon may have been the first, but apparently, not the last Republican hopeful to question the need for a national minimum wage.
Democrats are calling out three other Republican candidates for minimum wage-related statements in addition to McMahon, who first generated a firestorm of controversy last week for seemingly to disparage the existence of a nationwide minimum wage, which currently stands at $7.25.
McMahon made her statements in accepting the endorsement of a business group that opposes increases in the minimum wages employers must provide workers.
However, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) also is citing remarks by three other GOP hopefuls: John Raese, of West Virginia; Dino Rossi, of Washington State; and Alaskan Joe Miller.
“In a trend that should alarm middle class families around the country, Republican Senate candidates are proving to be absolutely dead set on eliminating or lowering the minimum wage,” says DSCC National Press Secretary Deirdre Murphy. “The latest enemy to the minimum wage is extremist Joe Miller, who joins Linda McMahon, Dino Rossi and John Raese in wanting to eliminate or lower the minimum wage for workers in their states. If voters this fall needed any more proof that the Republican Party is not on their side, they continue to get it by the day.”
The federal minimum wage is raised only sporadically. The last two increases voted by Congress came a decade apart, in 1997 and then, 2007. Nearly 1 million U.S. workers earn the federal minimum wage, according to one estimate.
In the case of Raese, who is running against West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin for the seat once held by the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), Democrats quote a report last month from the Register Herald newspaper: “Another one of Raese’s concerns is the minimum wage. ‘Anytime the government tries to micro-manage the economy and starts setting wages, it is the death of free enterprise and capitalism,’ he said. ‘All you have to do is look around today and you can see there are a lot of old people out of work and a lot of young people are too. A lot of times the jobs that would be created for the youth of our country are taken away by a hideous situation with minimum wage. I profess that minimum wage be eliminated and we operate on the laws of supply and demand just like we did before the depression,’ he added.”
Among other sources in Rossi’s case, the DSCC cites the Washington insider publication Hotline, noting that when Rossi ran for governor in 2008, he said he would support lowering the minimum wage, a position that Democratic Gov. Christine Gregoire used against him in attack ads.
This year, Rossi hopes to unseat Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, who first entered the Senate in 1993.
Lastly, the DSCC quotes an ABC News report regarding Miller, the tea party favorite who upended Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska for that state’s GOP Senate nomination.
When asked if there should be a federally mandated minimum wage, something that has existed since Congress passed the Fair Labor Standards Act in 1938, Miller replied, “That is clearly up to the states. The state of Alaska has a minimum wage which is higher than the federal level because our state leaders have made that determination. The minimum level again should be the state’s decision.” So there should not be a federal minimum wage? “There should not be,” Miller answered. “That is not within the scope of the powers that are given to the federal government.”
All four Republicans will be on the ballot in the coming November midterm general election.
An analysis released several years ago by the Economic Policy Institute specifically found no harm caused to employment in two states in question — Washington State and Alaska — because of a minimum wage.
The publisher of the news site On The Hill, Scott Nance has covered Congress and the federal government for more than a decade.