Something's Deeply Wrong With the Economy When Right-Wingers Start Talking About a Minimum Wage Increase

When even right-wingers are talking about upping the minimum wage, you know there’s a problem with the way low-wage workers get paid.  As income inequality continues to attract attention in the U.S., one idea to combat it is gaining adherents.


The Huffington Post has a list of some of the unexpected people supporting an increase in the minimum wage.  They include Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, conservative activists Phyllis Schlafly and 58 percent of registered Republicans, according to a November Gallup poll.

“Legislation to raise the minimum wage would elevate many low-wage earners above the income threshold that qualifies them for benefits and should result in reduced welfare spending. That’s a tradeoff Republicans could support,” Schlafly wrote earlier this month.

ABC News in California reports on another conservative, Ron Unz, who is leading a campaign in California to increase the minimum wage.  Unz, a Silicon Valley millionaire and the former publisher of The American Conservative, is gathering petitions to secure a ballot question on raising the minimum wage to $12 an hour in the state.  Nationwide, the wage is $7.25 an hour.  In California, it will be raised from $8 to $9 in July.

“The government spends $250 billion each year on social welfare spending for the working poor, people who have jobs but can't cover their own expenses,” Unz told ABC. “That's a hidden subsidy to the low-wage employers who don't want to cover the costs of their own workers."

The debate over minimum wage comes as the Democrats plan to use the issue during the 2014 elections.  As the wage increase comes to a political head, will the GOP support it as part of a newfound focus on poverty?  If history's a template, the answer is no.  Then again, the issue is splitting Republican Party elites, with some in support.

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