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Prominent Republicans calling for an increase in minimum wage – why are we still fighting?

With people like Mitt Romney supporting a raise in the minimum wage, Dave Ross wonders why it continues to be controversial. (AP Photo/file)

Have you noticed a number of notable figures on the right are now saying they are in favor of raising the minimum wage?

Former presidential candidate Mitt Romney is for it. As is Tim Pawlenty and ultra-conservative Republican Rick Santorum.

I happen to know a guy who knows some Republicans pretty well. His name is Michael Medved. So I asked Michael whether these conservative figures calling for an increase in the minimum wage surprised him.

“No. I know all these three guys, and I like all these three guys. In fact, I talked about this with Rick Santorum very recently,” said Medved. “The point about this is that I think there is a huge national consensus, that certainly would include me, that the minimum wage needs to be raised somewhat.”

Another part of it, Medved said, is that many Republicans are saying go ahead and raise it, and then take it out of the political process. “You basically have it adjusted for inflation, which is what we do for social security. It’s what we do for most other government programs.”

If these prominent and respected Republicans are saying raise the minimum wage, I asked Michael why it is at all controversial?

“It’s controversial because of the amount of the raise,” said Medved. “In other words, to go from $7.35 an hour all the way to $10.10 an hour in one congressional mandate, is not a good idea. It will damage the economy. It will cost jobs, and in fact, the CBO has acknowledged that it will cost jobs.”

So there’s no gripe about raising it?

“I would not say that there’s no gripe about raising it,” said Medved. “There are some people who are opposed to any raise in the minimum wage. There are some people who are opposed to the minimum wage itself. In an ideal world, by the way, I don’t see why they do fine in Norway and Germany and Italy and Finland and Sweden, and in a whole bunch of other countries that don’t have the minimum wage at all. But OK, we’re not going to abolish the minimum wage.”

It is going to continue to be an issue, Medved said. But he also said it seems like something that could be worked out if both sides would come to the table.

“This is one of those many, many issues, and there are thousands of them, where for God’s sake, sit down and negotiate it. Both sides seem to be unwilling to do that because the Democrats want to use it politically and the Republicans don’t trust the Democrats.”

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