The Next Vice-President: Minimum Wage

The next chapter is tracking six focus issues during the current presidential election process. TNC has summarized the positions of the presidential candidates: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Now that the candidates have selected their running mates, TNC is looking at the positions of Democrat Tim Kaine and Republican Mike Pence on these issues.

On the Minimum Wage:

Do you support increasing the federal minimum wage?

TNC’s take: Employers should be obliged to pay at least a minimum hourly wage that does not exploit the lowest-paid workers. The federal minimum should be adjusted annually to reflect increases in the cost of living. States should be allowed to impose a higher minimum wage, but there should be a federal floor on hourly wages that applies equally in all states. The objective of the minimum wage should be to lift households out of poverty.

As a member of the House in 2007, Mike Pence opposed raising the federal minimum wage, then $5.15 per hour, to $7.25 per hour (the current federal minimum). He said, “an excessive increase in the minimum wage will hurt the working poor.”

As governor of Indiana in 2013, Pence opposed an increase in the state minimum wage to $8.25 (the bill was defeated). He approved a state law to prohibit local governments from passing ordinances that would raise local minimum wages above the state minimum. In 2015, he signed a new law that repealed the state “prevailing wage” law under which local boards set wages for publicly-funded construction projects. Pence said, “Wages on public projects should be set by the marketplace and not by government bureaucracy.”

Senator Tim Kaine has supported legislation to raise the federal minimum wage. In a statement posted on his website, Kaine says: “No one who works full time should live in poverty.” In April 2015, he joined with 32 other senators to indroduce the Raise the Wage Act. The legislation would raise the federal minimum wage to $12 per hour by 2020 and would index the minimum wage to median wages after that. The bill has been refered to committee.  Opposition from the Republican majority is likely to defeat the bill.

In 2014, Kaine supported the Minimum Wage Fairness Act that would have raised the minimum wage to $10.10 by 2016. In a floor speech on the bill, Kaine noted that the federal minimum wage ($7.25 per hour) is at a “historic low” and that it has lost a third of its buying power since 1968. If the minimum wage had kept pace with inflation, it would have been $10.71 per hour in 2014. The bill was opposed by Republican senators and was defeated when a cloture vote failed.


The vice-presidential candidates’ views on the other focus issues:

On Immigration

On Health Care

On Iran

On Climate Change

On Campaign Finance Reform

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