Rick Santorum Rebrands Himself As Working Class Populist, Promptly Announces Opposition To Minimum Wage Hike

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"Rick Santorum Rebrands Himself As Working Class Populist, Promptly Announces Opposition To Minimum Wage Hike"

Rick Santorum

CREDIT: AP

Rick Santorum, the former senator and potential 2016 presidential candidate, has written a new book arguing that “Republicans should resist the temptation to dismiss all the talk about declining mobility” and do more to connect with “working Americans.”

“Today, large businesses are doing well, and stock and commodity prices are strong,” Santorum writes in Blue Collar Conservatives: Recommitting to an America That Works. “If you are an owner or investor, life has been pretty good. But for workers, it’s a different story…We have to admit that for the people at the bottom, that’s what it feels like these days—just a trickle.”

But during an appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Tuesday, Santorum took an unexpected turn in advocating on behalf of workers: he argued against increasing the nation’s minimum wage.

“If you want to hire somebody, you’ve got to pay them this and pay them that,” Santorum began. “We keep — for helping people, the minimum wage, we’re going to help people. We’re going to make wages more. You do that, you disincentivize people to hire and incentivize them to buy a machine.” The position actually flies in the face of Santorum’s voting record as a Senator, when he was sometimes in favor of raising the minimum wage.

Economic research has found that increasing the minimum wage has a net-zero effect on job growth and can actually help businesses retain quality workers for longer, boost worker productivity, and push employers to cut waste elsewhere. A recent study from the Economic Policy Institute concluded that a $10.10 minimum wage would translate into a direct raise for 16.7 million workers and increase economic spending. Places like Washington state and San Francisco — both of which have raised the minimum wage — have also experienced job growth above the national average and expansions of payrolls at restaurants and bars (businesses that are supposedly most vulnerable to job losses).

Santorum’s larger effort to brand himself as a populist is also undermined by his past statements and economic proposals. In 2011, Santorum actually endorsed income inequality. “They talk about income inequality. I’m for income inequality,” he said in Iowa. “I think some people should make more than other people, because some people work harder and have better ideas and take more risk, and they should be rewarded for it. I have no problem with income inequality.”

Indeed, Santorum’s 2012 economic plan would have only widened the growing gap between the richest Americans and everybody else. According to an analysis by Citizens for Tax Justice, the richest one percent of Americans would have received an “average tax cut of $217,500″ under the Santorum proposal, “over 100 times as large as the average tax cut of $2,160 that the middle fifth of Americans would receive.”

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