Here’s another entry in the strange bedfellows political show, 2014 edition: As Election Day gets closer, some Republicans in battleground races seem to be moving to the center on a number of issues. Their latest sea change is the minimum wage.
Alongside pay equity, infrastructure investment and college affordability, raising the minimum wage is at the center of the Democrats’ election year economic agenda. President Obama has given numerous speeches on the minimum wage, excoriating Republicans in Congress for blocking a federal minimum wage hike. “Either you’re in favor of raising wages for hardworking Americans, or you’re not,” he said in April.
He makes it sound so simple — but this is politics.
As free-market conservatives, Republicans are philosophically opposed to raising the minimum wage. But a handful of Republican candidates in tight races have come out in favor of raising the minimum wage on the state level.
Bruce Rauner, running for governor of Illinois, has said in the past that he believed the minimum wage could be lowered, or even eliminated. But now, Rauner says, if Illinois passed tort reform and tax reform, he would support raising the state wage. He’s also come out in favor of raising the federal minimum wage.
Why the change? Illinois is one of five states this year that has a minimum wage hike on the state ballot. These propositions are hugely popular and usually pass with 60 or even 70 percent of the vote.
In Arkansas and Alaska, where there are also minimum wage referendums on the ballot, Republican Senate candidates Tom Cotton and Dan Sullivan say they’ll vote for them. In Sullivan’s case, he was previously opposed to the ballot proposition, but then, his spokesman said, “he had a chance to read the initiative.”
This is the problem with modern day Republicans: they’re timid, horrible long term strategists and end up making panicky pandering moves like this because they’re afraid of being called names by the press. So they continually sell out fiscal responsibility for what they believe is the short term, yet all that is accomplished is that they can never regain the high ground in the debate. Nobody believes that the GOP will overhaul the tax code anymore because they have been gleefully signing on to budgets that require ever more “revenue” to be hijacked from the wallets of hard working American citizens.
Given the choice between Democrat and Democrat Lite, the voter will always choose Democrat, because he knows he can get more “free” stuff from him/her.