"I don’t think a minimum wage law works," Rubio told Charlie Rose. "We all support — I certainly do — having more taxpayers, meaning more people who are employed. And I want people to make a lot more than $9 — $9 is not enough. The problem is you can’t do that by mandating it in the minimum wage laws. Minimum wage laws have never worked in terms of having the middle class attain more prosperity."So with Rubio staking out the hard-right position of being against the minimum wage, what about other potential contenders for the GOP nomination in 2016? Here's a quick survey:
- Fmr. Florida Gov. Jeb Bush: Bush has been out of office for six years, but in 2003 he signed legislation prohibiting local governments in Florida from raising the minimum wage higher than the federal minimum wage and in 2004 he opposed a statewide initiative to raise the minimum wage.
- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie: Unlike Rubio or Bush, Christie hasn't flatly opposed the concept of a minimum wage or raising it in his state above the federal level. However, while he proposed raising the minimum wage by $1 over three years to $8.25, he actually vetoed a Democratic measure to raise the minimum wage to $8.50 with automatic indexing for inflation. So Christie says he supports raising the minimum wage, but when confronted with legislation that would actually raise it, he vetoed it.
- Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul: Paul, not surprisingly, opposes the minimum wage. "When you set the minimum wage it may cause unemployment," he told ABC News. "The least skilled people in our society have more trouble getting work the higher you make the minimum wage."
- Fmr. Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee: Huckabee signed legislation raising the minimum wage to $6.25 in April of 2006, eight months before Congress raised it to $7.25.
- Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal: As a congressman in 2007, Jindal joined with Democrats to raise the federal minimum wage to $7.25, becoming one of 82 House Republicans to do so. 116 of his GOP colleagues voted against raising it.
- Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan: Ryan, unlike Jindal, voted against raising the minimum wage in 2007 and has already come out against the president's proposal to raise it to $9.
- Fmr. Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum: Santorum voted to kill a minimum wage increase in 1999 and also opposed it in 2005. Moreover, he attacked Mitt Romney in 2012 for having supported indexing the minimum wage to inflation, a proposal echoed by President Obama during his State of the Union address.
So of the Republican Party's eight leading 2016 hopefuls, only two have ever actually cast a vote or signed a piece of legislation supporting an increase in the minimum wage. Meanwhile, six of them have actively opposed increasing it, including at least two who don't believe it should exist at all. I suspect most people don't really understand where Republicans really stand on this issue, but hopefully the fact that six of their party's eight top 2016 contenders have fought to eliminate or freeze the minimum wage will clarify the situation.