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Mitt Romney: "I think we’re nuts not to raise the minimum wage"

Photo by George Frey/Getty Images

In a recent interview with the Washington Post, Mitt Romney surprised some by coming out strongly in favor of a boost in the minimum wage. "I think we’re nuts not to raise the minimum wage," he said. "I think, as a party, to say we’re trying to help the middle class of America and the poor and not raise the minimum wage sends exactly the wrong signal."

This is a stronger phrasing than we've heard from Romney previously, but not actually a new view.

  • In a 2014 Morning Joe appearance, Romney said, "I, for instance, as you know, part company with many of the conservatives in my party on the issue of the minimum wage. I think we ought to raise it."
  • Back in the 2012 campaign, Romney opposed a nominal increase in the minimum wage at a time of high unemployment but said he favored indexing the wage to inflation, which would have led it to go up over time.

One reason right-of-center politicians sometimes back minimum wage hikes is that by increasing incomes for low-wage workers, they reduce the cost of social assistance programs. UK Prime Minister David Cameron, for example, has explicitly justified minimum wage increases as part of an effort to move from a "low-wage, high-tax, high-welfare society to a higher-wage, lower-tax, lower-welfare society," and paired with this increased enforcement of minimum wage rules.