All four of the Republican gubernatorial candidates are on record stating that they oppose raising the minimum wage for low-income workers and families. But as our coalition partners at Action Now have stated, one of the GOP hopefuls, billionaire venture capitalist Bruce Rauner, actually stated that Illinois’ minimum wage should actually be lowered from a paltry $8.25 an hour to the federal rate of $7.25 an hour.
Capital Fax posted the audio of Rauner’s quote, courtesy of John Gregory at the Illinois Radio Network, where Rauner explicitly said: “I will advocate moving the Illinois minimum wage back to the national minimum wage. I think we’ve got to be competitive here in Illinois. It’s critical we’re competitive. We’re hurting our economy by having the minimum wage above the national. We’ve got to move back to the national.”
We agree with the statement from Action Now that “making enough income to barely survive and to support one’s family is not a partisan issue, nor should it be. …It is time for state lawmakers, political candidates, civic leaders, and the business community to work on a bipartisan basis to alleviate poverty and to offer constructive ideas on how to strengthen economic opportunity for all working families in our state.”
Rauner has now turned himself into a pretzel and has been flip-flopping on the issue. In today’s Chicago Sun-Times, Rauner was pilloried from both sides of the political spectrum.
“Mr. Rauner’s positioning on minimum wage as a multimillionaire who owns nine homes was playing right into the Pat Quinn playbook on class warfare, and it’s a warning to Republicans that Mr. Rauner is a terrible nominee for us and would lose the election in the fall,” Dillard told the Sun-Times.
“He’s an extremely vulnerable candidate on many fronts, including showing his inexperience by mistepping badly on a ’47-percent Romney’ moment on the minimum,” Dillard said. “It’s endemic why the Republicans have to be very leery: This is just a sample of how Pat Quinn will use a playbook very effectively against a zillionaire like Bruce Rauner.” ….
“They say a gaffe is when a politician tells the truth. In the case of Bruce Rauner, he showed his true colors when he said that Illinois’ minimum wage needs to be cut. Only a right-wing billionaire would think it’s right to take thousands of dollars a year from working people who live on the brink of poverty,” said the group’s spokesman, Danny Kanner.
“Forget his insincere apology today. The real Bruce Rauner would force thousands of Illinoisans into poverty if he had the chance, and voters won’t soon forget,” Kanner said.
Then forced into damage control, Rauner wrote an op-ed in the Chicago Tribune today trying to explain that he does in fact support raising the minimum wage. But the release of the video to the Sun-Times today has undermined Rauner’s argument.
Our position at HCII is clear: giving low-wage workers better wages is simply the right thing to do, which will support working families, strengthen our communities, and rebuild our local economy to create even more jobs. In short, raising the minimum wage should not be treated as a political issue, but a moral issue.