Politics

What Hillary Clinton Really Thinks About the Minimum Wage

September 6th 2016

By:
Kyle Jaeger

A Labor Day message from Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's campaign revived debate over the candidate's position on the minimum wage this week. And since questions about Clinton's stance on the issue have routinely come up this election cycle, let's get some clarity.

hillary-clinton

Here's why people are talking about Clinton's minimum wage position again.

In a newsletter sent out over the holiday weekend, the group "Wonks for Hillary" described the candidate's stance: "Hillary supports a federal $12 minimum wage and supports prevailing wage laws and the 'Fight for $15' where economically feasible."

Journalist Ken Klippenstein took a screenshot of the letter and wrote that it showed Clinton had backtracked on her support for a $15 minimum wage "in the most weasel way possible." The point of controversy here concerns the language used to describe her support for the Fight for $15 movement, which appears tentative.

But Clinton has consistently made the distinction since coming out in favor of $15 minimum wage efforts in April.

Clinton has called for a $12 federal minimum wage, but she supports efforts to raise the wage to $15 per hour, as recently approved in cities such as Los Angeles and New York.

Clinton said New York's recent policy change represented an ideal model for raising the wage, speaking in an interview with ABC's "This Week" in April:

"That model is a phased-in minimum wage increase to get to $15 in the city and surrounding areas, to get to $12, $12.50 upstate, but to be constantly evaluating the economic conditions so that there is no unintended consequence of lost jobs. That has been my position. And that is exactly what New York just voted for. And for federal legislation, if it has the same kind of understanding about how we have to phase this in, how we have to evaluate it as we go — if the Congress passes that, of course I would sign it."

For Clinton, it's all about logistics. She'd sign a law raising the federal minimum wage to $15 if the process was gradual, regulated, and didn't threaten jobs.

If that position sounds different from that of her former opponent, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (I), it's because it is. Sanders called for a $15 minimum wage in the clearest terms, making it a central tenet of his presidential campaign. Some credit Sanders for influencing Clinton's minimum wage policy, arguing that his focus on the issue led her to adopt a more progressive minimum wage agenda that recognizes the need for higher wages under certain circumstances.

Here's exactly how Clinton plans to approach the minimum wage, according to a recent article published on her campaign website.

Hillary Clinton

"Clinton's position accords with that of the Obama administration and some liberal economists, who worry that a $15 minimum wage could put workers out of a job in many parts of the country where wages and retail prices are generally lower," The Washington Post reported. "In those areas, businesses hoping to serve more customers and sell more products by hiring more workers might find that the additional sales don't make up the cost of the $15 hourly wage. They might hire fewer people as a result."

RELATED: A Slightly Higher Minimum Wage Could Save Taxpayers Billions