“Mike Pence, when he was in Congress, voted against raising the minimum wage above $5.15,” said Kaine, Hillary Clinton’s running mate, touting his campaign’s pledge to raise the minimum wage so that Americans “can’t work full time and be under the poverty level.”
Kaine was referencing a 2007 vote by Pence, then a U.S. congressman, opposing an effort to raise the federal minimum wage to $7.25 an hour over two years. (The minimum wage at the time was indeed $5.15.)
According to Huffington Post, Pence argued against raising the national hourly minimum wage, criticizing as “irresponsible” Democrats who supported the hike and accusing them of ignoring the needs of small business owners and family farmers. “It will harm both the wage payer and the wage earner,” said Pence, asserting that such an “excessive increase” would only “hurt the working poor.”
In an interview this April, Clinton clarified her campaign’s sometimes murky position on the minimum wage, saying she would sign a $15 minimum wage bill if it were phased in gradually and the proper research was done to measure the hike’s effects on rural areas and others where the cost of living is much lower than sprawling cities like Los Angeles and New York City.
Kaine said during Tuesday’s debate that both Donald Trump and Pence want to eliminate the federal minimum wage all together. In July, however, Trump told Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly that he’d actually support raising the federal minimum wage to $10—a departure from his previous position that wages were “too high.” Trump also indicated in May that he would support raising minimum wage, telling CNN: “People have to get more.”
Trump has evolved on this issue over time. At a Republican debate in November he said that wages were already too high and that American business owners needed room to compete against the world.
“I hate to say it, but we have to leave it the way it is,” said Trump. “People have to go out, they have to work really hard and they have to get into that upper stratum…We just can’t do it.”