Our guest blogger is Anne L. Thompson, a policy analyst at the National Employment Law Project Action Fund.
Bucking conventional GOP opposition to raising the minimum wage, former Governor Mitt Romney said at a campaign event in New Hampshire that he favors raising the minimum wage automatically each year so that it keeps pace with inflation.
Asked his position on the minimum wage, Romney responded, “My view has been to allow the minimum wage to rise with the CPI [Consumer Price Index] or with another index so that it adjusts automatically over time.” When asked if he would support that policy as president, he responded, “I already indicated that when I was governor of Massachusetts and that’s my view.” Watch it:
At a subsequent campaign event in New Hampshire, former Speaker Gingrich clashed with Romney on the issue. When asked if he shared Romney’s position, Gingrich said, “No, and I’m surprised that’s his position.” Watch it:
Romney’s support for indexing sharply contrasts with recent Republican-led efforts to weaken minimum wage laws in states such as Maine, Ohio, Florida, and Missouri. In Florida and Missouri, legislators have taken direct aim at statutes that provide for annual indexing of the minimum wage. In New Hampshire, Republicans in the state legislature overturned Governor John Lynch’s (D) veto to pass legislation making it harder for the state to raise its minimum wage.
Romney’s statement reaffirms a position he first took when running for Massachusetts Governor in 2002, but later appeared to back away from when he ran for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination. While Romney’s support for raising the minimum wage to keep up with inflation is a step in the right direction, President Obama’s proposal to raise the minimum wage by more than $2 and subsequently index it to inflation goes significantly further toward restoring the value of the minimum wage, which has declined dramatically in the last 40 years.
During the 2008 presidential campaign, President Obama endorsed raising the federal minimum wage to $9.50 by 2011 and then indexing it based on the Consumer Price Index. According to an analysis by the Economic Policy Institute, Obama’s proposal would generate more than $60 billion in new consumer spending, helping to boost the demand our economy desperately needs to recover. Currently, the federal minimum is just $7.25 per hour, or roughly $15,000 a year for a full-time worker. If it had been indexed based on the Consumer Price Index since 1968, it would be approximately $10.40 today.
Recent polling found that two-thirds of Americans — a bipartisan majority — support raising the minimum wage to $10 and then indexing it to inflation to keep up with the rising cost of living.