- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 20, 2014

Republican Sen. Rob Portman said Thursday that lawmakers should tread warily in sizing up a Democrat-led proposal to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, citing economic conditions and a new report that says the hike could kill a half-million jobs.

Mr. Portman, of Ohio, acknowledged that he has voted to raise the minimum wage in the 1990s.

“But I voted for it at a time when the economy was actually growing,” he told MSNBC’s Morning Joe. “And most economists look at now increasing the minimum wage and saying this is going to cost jobs. And that’s what the Congressional Budget Office said recently.”

He was referring to a CBO report that said the wage hike could cut 500,000 jobs by 2016, although it would boost wages for most low-income workers.

With most of the big spending and debt issues settled for this year, and with Republicans focusing on attacks to Obamacare, Democrats are countering with a campaign on income inequality.

The two chief prongs have been an effort to extend long-term federal unemployment benefits and the push to raise the minimum wage.

Mr. Portman said that if Congress is going to look at raising the minimum wage, “let’s, one, be sure it isn’t too high, and, two, be sure we do things that are pro-growth, including giving businesses an incentive to hire.

“So I’m willing to look at it, but as part of a package,” he added.