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May 14, 2014 12:10 PM The Bigger Political Problem Behind GOP’s Hostility to Minimum Wage Increases

By Ed Kilgore

Like me, Slate’s Jamelle Bouie has a question for the Republicans who oppose an increase in the minimum wage:

If raising the minimum wage destroys jobs and prevents employment, then lowering it would do the opposite. And if you gain from lowering the minimum wage, then why have one at all?

Bouie identifies a handful of major Republican pols—I bet you could find a lot more in the backbenches of the U.S. House—who are willing to Go There and oppose any sort of federal minimum wage: U.S. Senators Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Lamar Alexander, and wannabe U.S. Senator Karen Handel of Georgia. If a minimum wage increase is very, very popular—and it is, even among rank-and-file Republicans—I suspect the “abolish the minimum wage” line would poll down there with broccoli and Nickelback.

Bouie notes accurately that the minimum wage increase messaging Democrats have deployed serves as both a base mobilization and a swing voter persuasion tool for 2014 and 2016. But it also forces Republican pols to reveal their more basic attitudes towards very popular federal interventions in the market economy. And if they are pressed on those at every available opportunity, many may stray into a much bigger political problem than opposing this particular minimum wage increase.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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