The prevailing thinking is that conservative Republicans are against raising the minimum wage. However, that is not true for all conservative Republicans.
Certainly not for Peter Thiel, the billionaire venture capitalist who co-founded PayPal. Thiel recently said in an interview that he supports a California ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage by fellow conservative Ron Unz. The ballot initiative would raise California’s minimum wage to $12 an hour in 2016. Thiel told the San Francisco Chronicle that he’s against raising the minimum wage “in theory,” but in practice he thinks “the alternative to higher minimum wage is that people simply end up going on welfare.” He thinks that raising the minimum wage should be considered “seriously.”
Thiel is a billionaire who, although he identifies as a conservative Libertarian, has given much money to Republican causes. These include $1 million to Club for Growth, an anti-tax group that Politico describes as “tea party aligned,” and almost $4 million to Endorse Liberty PAC for Ron Paul’s 2012 presidential campaign. Thiel even gave campaign contributions to Tea Party favorite Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas in 2012, and Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign.
Thiel deviates from political lines, however, when it comes to raising the minimum wage. And so does Ron Unz, who argues what he calls the “conservative case for raising the minimum wage,” as he stated in a blog post on his website. Unz hopes that in California, “liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans could come together in a bipartisan coalition to support raising our minimum wage to $12 per hour.”
Thiel and Unz are not the only conservatives calling for the minimum wage to be raised. Last month, Fox News host Bill O’Reilly called for raising the minimum wage. “The Republican Party should really wise up and stop opposing raising the minimum wage. It should be 10 bucks an hour,” O’Reilly said. “The GOP needs to stop working against working people.” Phyllis Schlafly also called for raising the minimum wage because it would “elevate many low-wage earners above the income threshold that qualifies them for benefits and should result in reduced welfare spending.”
Some companies are already paying their employees higher minimum wages. Last week, Gap, Inc. announced that it will increase the minimum hourly rate it pays American employees from $9 per hour in 2014 to $10 per hour in 2015. Just one day prior to Gap’s announcement, the Congressional Budget Office released a report about the impacts of raising the federal minimum wage. The CBO report concluded that raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour would increase the pay and family income for most minimum wage workers.
Image credit: Hubert Burda Media