EAGAN, Minn. (AP) — Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney renewed his support Wednesday for automatic increases in the federal minimum wage to keep pace with inflation, a position sharply at odds with traditional GOP business allies, conservatives and the party’s senior lawmakers.

“I haven’t changed my thoughts on that,” the former Massachusetts governor told reporters aboard his chartered campaign plane, referring to a stand he has held for a decade.

He did not say if he would ask Congress to approve the change if he wins the White House this fall.

Congress first enacted federal minimum wage legislation in 1938 and has raised it sporadically in the years since. The last increase, approved in 2007, took effect in three installments and reached $7.25 an hour for covered workers effective July 24, 2009.

It has never been allowed to rise automatically, as Romney envisions.

Organized labor generally supports increases in the minimum wage, and Romney’s position could give him cross-over appeal among blue-collar Democrats in a general election campaign.

Republicans have generally opposed attempts to raise it, although in 1996, the GOP-controlled Congress passed an election-year increase that included a package of tax cuts for business and a subminimum wage to apply to new, younger employees.

At the time lawmakers were considering the 2007 legislation, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce registered its disapproval.

“Any minimum wage increase will significantly affect the bottom line of the nation’s small business owners,” said Bruce Josten, the executive vice president for government affairs at the organization, which says it represents more than 3 million businesses and organizations across the country.

A spokesman for the organization declined further comment.

The National Federation of Independent Business says on its website that it “opposes any increase in the current federal minimum wage. Mandatory wage increases not only hurt small businesses, but their employees as well … It has not been proven to reduce poverty or narrow the income gap and puts a stranglehold on America’s top job creators: small businesses.”

A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, Michael Steel, said Congress’ top Republican “is following the presidential campaign, but has not been commenting on the individual candidates’ specific proposals.” Boehner opposed the most recent increase that passed Congress.

An aide to Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Romney’s statement.

As a candidate for governor of Massachusetts in 2002, Romney said he supported minimum wage increases in line with inflation.

Five years ago, he said he liked the “idea of getting the political debate out and I like the idea of not having the huge jumps as we do now.”

One of Romney’s rivals in the presidential race, Newt Gingrich, said at a news conference last week that he would be cautious about raising the minimum wage for fear it would contribute to unemployment. He was speaker of the House at the time of the 1996 increase, which was passed under Democratic pressure.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (30)
  1. gary johnson says:

    I love how this is being spun as some novel unpredictable outcome. I called this over a year ago, and have been bored waiting for the conclusion. I don’t want to sound jaded, but it seems so staged.

    1. Frozenrunner says:

      Seems like a quite a bit of wasted money by all parties for it to be a staged event. Why would you have Republicans shredding Republicans if it were staged? Tightey whitey righties will have their undies in a bunch over a Romney nomination as he is not nor ever will be one of them.. Enough of the far righties must not like Gingrich enough to tell Santorum to quit. Santorum can’t muster enough voters to convince anyone he is viable anywhere on a ticket. What Romney would be is a part of is the monied crowd out to protect their turf. That might not be enough to buy him an election. It will make us thankful for the end of the campaign season for all of the negative advertising that will hit the airwaves.

      1. gary johnson says:

        Great response. Newt keeps referring to Romney as a moderate, etc. etc. just to create a stir. Romney is very right wing conservative. Newt never had a chance, Santorum is out, and what’s left? Ron Paul is being ignored.

        Again, it will be Romney, who btw, has to have the secret service protect him from the seniors who are protesting him. (Like they are some kind of a threat)

        I stand by what I say. It’s all staged, and Romney will be the candidate. In the meantime, the young people in the party are changing it, and Newt’s kind will be history. The future of Republicans is fically conservative and socially libertarian, while the social controlling agendas die out. Then the Democrats are doomed.

        1. Jim says:

          If the Republican party actually became a party that was fiscally conservative and socially libertarian, then I might vote for some of them. But starting with the Bush administration, they’ve been fiscally liberal and socially conservative, which is the worst possible combination in my opinion.

        2. A conservative American says:

          I don’t believe that this entire race has been staged, but I believe that the biased media has been influencing people way too much.

          During the fall of 2011, the media was purposely attacking the conservative candidates on purpose so then we would nominate a moderate, which is going to be Romney, and now, the media is acting as if Romney has already secured the GOP nomination.

  2. Tom says:

    Not everybody is on board with Romney. Most of the establishment in DC want Romney, The Religious Right do not want Romney as they dont trust him on their social issues, but the biggie is that he is Mormon and they consider that a cult and are backing Santorum. And Gingrich does have his backers and is doing what some on the Right want and that is kicking Obama in the privates in the debates.

  3. Vet says:

    You never hear of a former Ron Paul supporter. That’s because Ron Paul and his supporters actually stand for something,TRUTH.

    Newt Romney, or whoever the establishment shoves down your throats is just the same ole lting crooks as years past. Good luck moving out of your foreclosed homes and sending your kids off to die in Iran if Romney or Obama wins this time

    1. The Truth says:

      Ron Paul has been a Washington insider since he first served in Congress in 1976. His supporters are too stoned to even find the polling place, much less know how to vote.

      1. DEEP says:

        All anti Paul people name call. It’s so childish. People name call because they cannot express themselves intellectually.

    2. Arvid says:

      Soes his supporters actually understand what Dr. Paul stands for. If as your name suggests you are former military kiss your entitled benefits goodbye. In a libertarian view the government should not be in the business of providing health care. Just remember it is not necessarily true that what you get from the government you are owed, everyone else is a leach.

  4. Darren says:

    Give me Ron Paul anyday over all of the other canidates. And I am not a stoner. I have never even tried smoking any illegal substance or legal for that matter. I just believe Ron Paul has the best ideas on how to get rid of big government.

    Too Bad Romney is basically buying the presidency.

    1. GANJA says:

      AMEN! I smoke weed every day, have for over 20 years. Have tested as high as 173 on IQ tests-have bought and sold multi’ homes-traveled the world-speak portuguese-currently Project Manager of multi’ million dollar biz. I get more done before 9 am, stoned, than most people get done all day! My point? Many people support Paul’s message of Constitutional Government for many different reasons. AND! WE DON’T JUDGE EACH OTHER! Just because someone doesn’t consume cannabis doesn’t mean their a bad person or ignorant.;-) Together we stand! GO RON PAUL 2012!

  5. DEEP says:

    What a joke. Romney has 50 of a possible 2000 Delegates!? This thing is just getting started and Romney has money, yes. Newt is under investigation for 1500 fraud votes. San-boring is nothing. Ron Paul has many many people behind him and is getting more people every day. Even Snoop Dogg gave a “nod” to Ron Paul today on his Facebook. I point that out because people from all walks of life support Ron Paul’s message. Freedom is popular and we all together are dangerous to the status quo! RON PAUL 2012!

    1. frozenrunner says:

      People name call because they cannot express themselves intellectually.
      San-boring is nothing

      Both quotes by DEEP today.

      1. DEEP says:

        HAH! Ya got me! Santorum really does bore me…… Who do you support for Pres and why? What is your #1 issue?

      2. DEEP says:

        Hey!? You name called “Tightey whitey righties”….. Not a lot to stand on there frozen……

        1. Frozenrunner says:

          Did you undies get in a bunch? I thought I was being clever in describing the right wings reaction to a Romney nomination. To answer your question., right now no one. There are no candidate out there that are reformers. Dr. Paul’s idea of reform is to do nothing which will lead back to the original problem. No one is going to change health care so we are not spending billions on treatment that will not change outcomes. There is no easy answer on the economy. At best and at worst we can say the country is in a holding pattern. Would a change at the top change anything for those in the middle? Nothing I have read so far out of the GOP would lead me to believe that. One would have to look at Romney’s ability as Governor to determine that. At this point there are other things I need to do. Like earn a living.

  6. maxey says:

    The thing I find most interesting about the whole Republican campaign is that Newt has had three times the wives the Mormon candidate has had. Go figure.

  7. A Voter says:

    If you think Romney is spending to much or his own money now, just wait until he gets his hands on the governments, your, money.

  8. Tom says:

    Romney wants to increase the minimum wage does he? There goes his support from the GOP as they are totally againest that!

  9. Ron Paul 2012 says:

    romney-boston consultants-monsanto…no more is needed

  10. shwiehl says:

    Ha! This is about an hour after his comment about not caring about the very poor. He knows he would never sign this bill; it’s just a way to off-set his stupid comment. What really kills me isn’t his comment about not caring about the poor; it’s about not being concerned about the wealthy because they’re doing “very well.” But let’s still not ask them to pay more in taxes. That comment may prove more damaging than the one about the poor.

    1. Frankie says:

      “I’m in this race because I care about Americans. I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I’ll fix it. I’m not concerned about the very rich, they’re doing just fine. I’m concerned about the very heart of America, the 90, 95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling, and I’ll continue to take that message across the nation.” Is the quote
      Nowhere does it mention taxes.
      Not the most eloquent but it is not what you are making it out to be

  11. Susan says:

    Only someone who doesn’t believe in capitalism would support a minimum wage.

    Reductio ad absurdum:

    Let’s make the minimum wage $100 per hour. Then everybody would be rich and could afford their own health care.

    1. Frankie says:

      You probably have not noticed, Romney has done quite well in capitalism. He supports a minimum wage.
      Your extension into absurdity would lead me to believe the opposition can do no better than come up with illogical arguments and statements out of context.

  12. DEEP says:

    Capitalism? We currently have fiat/fractional reserve debt slavery monopoly capitalism(banking). Please study what happened in 1910-1913 off the coast of Georgia. A great book is called “The Creature From Jekyll Island” by G. Edward Griffith and a great film is called “America Freedom to Fascism” by the late great Aaron Russo. Sound currency is a BIG deal! The business cycle! The free market! Sound currency can be a mix of gold backed and or a limited issue currency like Bill Still talks about in his great film “The Secret of OZ”. My point is most of us need to study these issues. As I came to understand the banking and tax scam we live under I found Ron Paul has the right ideas. Respectfully I encourage everyone to study these media sources I sighted and also look into Austrian Economics. Good luck earning them fiat treasury printed Federal Reserve notes in 2012.

    1. frozenrunner says:

      Whiich if any book will take into consideration the global economy. As the impact of the other economies that are based on the fiat/fractional reserve debt slavery monopoly capitalism(banking). will have an impact that would not be considered when these books were written. As much as Ron Paul would like to be isolationist, in the world economy it is not going to happen. Remember also that recesions have happened all through time, and mybe more so when the US was on the gold standard.

  13. DEEP says:

    A person like you will let the new world order happen with out a fight. People like me will not.

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