Rep. Tom Cole, Oklahoma Republican, said that while he’s opposed to an increase in the minimum wage, he’d be willing to look at proposals to do so — and accused the White House of using the issue as a “political weapon.”
“Would I look at a minimum-wage increase if I thought there were other things attached to it that would create jobs like Keystone and additional things? Yeah, I think I would consider that because I think job creation is an … important thing; it’s something that we’ve done a pretty miserable job at over the last several years,” Mr. Cole said Friday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
A proposal to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour fell victim to a filibuster in the U.S. Senate earlier this week — an outcome all sides could foresee before it happened.
Mr. Cole said he realizes there’s a case to be made for raising the wage, but there’s also a case on the other side: Individual states can move on their own and the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, phased in over the next three years, would reduce total employment by about 500,000 workers even as it would substantially boost wages for low-income workers.
The report from the nonpartisan budget scorekeeper added that the uncertainty is substantial, and the loss could be anywhere from “very slight” to as much as 1 million jobs.
“But I think this has been politicized,” Mr. Cole continued. “I suppose the president is certainly supportive of doing this, but let’s be real: He’s using this as a political weapon. If he was serious, he would put something else on the table that would attract Republican support. So far, he hasn’t done that.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, has said that he’s willing to compromise on the wage issue, but not on the $10.10 figure.
White House press secretary Jay Carney said Thursday that offering a different number probably wouldn’t do much good anyway.
“We don’t hear back from Republican leaders, ‘Well, I can’t do 10.10, I could do 9.50.’ Right? That’s not what they tell you, and it’s not what they tell us,” he said. “They say they’re opposed to raising the minimum wage. ‘That’s the wrong approach. It’s not good for America. It’s not good for the economy. It’s not right for those families.’ “