Today on Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace asked Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) why he has voted 17 times against raising the federal minimum wage. (Wallace later corrected himself and pointed out it was 19 times, to which McCain dismissively replied, “Well, or 29 or 49, whatever it is.”) McCain initially attempted to wriggle out of answering by talking about tax cuts.
But when pressed again by Wallace, McCain claimed that he opposed the increases only because they were attached to unrelated spending bills:
McCAIN: I’m for the minimum wage increases when they are not attached to other big-spending pork barrel. The practice in Washington is attach a good thing to a bad thing. And that way, then you have to vote yes or no. [...]
When I’m president, I’m going to veto every bill that doesn’t have straight up or down votes on the issues that are important to the American people. … The fact is that I am for a living wage for all Americans.
Ironically, one of the only times McCain actually did support a minimum wage increase was when it was tied to a war funding bill. But on at least 15 occasions, McCain has opposed minimum wage increases that were stand-alone amendments or bills. On April 7, 2000, he even voted against a non-binding “sense of the Senate” resolution “concerning an increase in the Federal minimum wage.”
McCain’s assertion that he supports a “living wage” for all Americans is even more questionable, considering his 19 votes against the minimum wage. After all, a living wage is usually even higher than the minimum wage.
WALLACE: But, if I may, Senator…
MCCAIN: Yes, sure.
WALLACE: … the Democrats pointed out at the convention that you have voted 17 times against raising the minimum wage. They say the only reason you voted for it in 2007 was because it was linked to war funding.
MCCAIN: Well, the point is that I have voted to keep taxes low and to cut taxes. And Senator Obama has voted to raise them consistently.
WALLACE: But why have you been (ph) against the minimum wage?
MCCAIN: Even on people as low as $42,000. I’m for the minimum wage increases when they are not attached to other big-spending pork barrel. The practice in Washington is attach a good thing to a bad thing. And that way, then you have to vote yes or no.
The energy bill, the energy bill had a lot of good things in it, and it billions of dollars of pork and good deals for the oil companies. Senator Obama voted for it. I voted against it, because we’ve got to start giving people a straight choice.
Now, you watch this September. Harry Reid will say, OK, we’ll let you vote on offshore drilling…
WALLACE: Senate Democratic leader.
MCCAIN: Yes. The Senate Democratic leader will say, well, let’s vote on offshore drilling, but you’ve got to have A, B, C, D and E. You can’t just have a straight up or down vote.
When I’m president, I’m going to veto every bill that doesn’t have straight up or down votes on the issues that are important to the American people.
WALLACE: So, you would have been for…
MCCAIN: I’m certainly…
WALLACE: … alone (ph), after the increases in the…
MCCAIN: Look, I’m certainly…
WALLACE: … minimum wage, even though you voted against it, I said 17, it was actually 19 times?
MCCAIN: Well, or 29 or 49, whatever it is. The fact is that I am for a living wage for all Americans. And I’d like to see them get it. But the key is to get them jobs, and get them the kind of good educational opportunity and affordable health care. So, I am committed, and my record clearly shows that I’ve done everything I can to keep their taxes low, to get them available and affordable health insurance, and to secure a good education and give them a choice, not be governed by the teachers’ union.