The Single Issue Republicans Should Have Talked About At The Third Debate — But Didn't
Wednesday evening's GOP primary debate focused on the U.S. economy, and the presidential hopefuls discussed a variety of issues, from social security to a flat tax rate, over the course of the evening. There was one issue, though, that got surprisingly little attention from the Republican candidates — and no, we're not talking about women's rights. The GOP candidates barely talked about the minimum wage during the debate, which is surprising, since they all displayed such passion about reforming the economy. Increasing the United States' federal minimum wage is also a point on which many Republicans and Democrats disagree on. With Obama's efforts to increase the federal minimum wage, you'd think they would have used it as fodder for CNBC's debate.
The one brief minimum wage shoutout came from former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina. When asked about a 401(k) program for businesses, Fiorina responded that the incentive could be a great idea, but the government doesn't necessarily need to be involved. That allowed her to segue into her next point, that "there is no constitutional role for the federal government to be setting minimum wages." Even if that's true, plenty of plenty, including those employed by the federal government, do rely on the minimum wage.
Of course, just because the candidates didn't mention the country's minimum wage at the debate doesn't mean we don't know where they stand on the issue. CNBC's Katie Little explained the candidates' views on the minimum wage in an article Monday, and nearly all of them don't support raising the federal minimum wage. Fiorina, for example, has given similar statements about the minimum wage to the one she gave on the debate stage, arguing that the minimum wage should be set at the state level, rather than the federal one. Similarly, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said in March that the United States should "leave it to the private sector" whether they want to raise the minimum wage.
Other GOP presidential candidates have argued that increasing the minimum wage would actually be bad for the economy. A post on Florida Sen. Marco Rubio's presidential campaign website claims that increasing the minimum wage would "accelerate automation and outsourcing." And in an interview on MSNBC's Morning Joe in August, Donald Trump said that "having a low minimum wage is not a bad thing for this country." The only GOP candidate who has tentatively endorsed raising the minimum wage is Dr. Ben Carson, who told CNBC in May that the minimum wage should "probably" be increased.
It would have been interesting to hear candidates talk about their positions on minimum wage (or other issues that speak to a broader audience) rather than making personal digs at one another during the debate. But who knows, maybe minimum wage will be on the topic discussion list at the next Republican debate. Maybe.