Mitt Romney Wants A Higher Minimum Wage, Completing His U-Turn Back To Moderate Republican
His healthcare reform, Romneycare, was the model on which President Obama based his Affordable Care Act. He might believe in climate change. And now Mitt Romney supports raising the minimum wage. Is it just us, or is Romney returning to pre-2012 levels of moderation? On Friday, the 2012 Republican presidential candidate made a surprising announcement on MSNBC's Morning Joe — when it comes to the minimum wage, "we oughta raise it." And when it comes to moderate Republicans, we gotta have 'em.
Now that Romney isn't considering a 2016 bid for the presidency, it seems that he's letting his true light-red colors shine through. Romney's announcement Friday morning makes him the third member of the GOP, and the second 2012 Republican presidential candidate after Rick Santorum, to side with Democrats on raising the minimum wage. This opinion comes much to the chagrin of the rest of the party, which has failed a bill that intended to do just that.
All three Republican men who have supported a higher minimum wage represent blue states, with Romney from Massachusetts, and the other two elected in Minnesota and Pennsylvania. Of course, Tim Pawlenty, the former Minnesota governor, refrained by going all in with the Democrats, saying that the problem with the rejected bill was that it moved "too far and too fast."
Romney, along with Pawlenty and Santorum, have stressed the idiocy of being a party meant to represent the everyman and yet refusing to raise the everyman's wages, with Romney saying, “...frankly, our party is all about more jobs and better pay and I think communicating that is important to us.” This statement rings true with Pawlenty, who said last month:
If you’re going to talk the talk about being for the middle class and the working person, if we have the minimum wage, it should be reasonably adjusted from time to time.
This is not the first decidedly un-GOP opinion Mitt Romney has held, and during his 2012 campaign, he was often slammed for his moderate stance. The Tea Party was particularly offended by his non-extreme views, calling him a "weak moderate candidate" picked by a "mushy-middle" Republican party. And if the Tea Party though Romney was bad in 2012, they should've seen his track record before.
Pre-2012 and pre-presidential nominee, Romney, as the governor of liberal Massachusetts, broke with the GOP on several key topics, including healthcare, taxes, abortion, and climate change. While his more moderate stance bode well for his position in Massachusetts, it did not resonate as well with the ultra-conservative Republican base. Massachusetts conservatives, those who helped Romney win the gubernatorial race, do not hold the same opinions as the rest of their party across the nation. Whereas the red voters in the north tend to be socially moderate and fiscally conservative, the same cannot be said for the general GOP.
This meant that when Romney decided to run for president in the last election cycle, he was forced to abandon many of his previously middle-of-the-road or even left-leaning stances on many social issues. When Jon Huntsman dropped out of the 2012 race, Romney became the last Republican candidate who believed in global warming. Moreover, Romney's sweeping healthcare overhaul in 2007 lead to near-universal insurance for Massachusetts residents, and on Monday, the Annals of Internal Medicine published a report showing that Romneycare saved lives. In fact, so effective was his reform that it led to a decrease of 300 healthcare-related deaths per year.
When it came to abortion, Romney claimed before the presidential race that he supported a woman's right to choose, but during the 2012 campaign, he was solidly pro-life. This trend of political flip-flopping is reminiscent of former president Richard Nixon's famous saying: "Run like hell to the right in the primaries, then run like hell to the center." However, with an increasingly polarized political landscape, running to the center is not as effective as it once was. Romney's moderate stance may have cost him the election, and with the growing influence of the Tea Party, the middle no longer seems like a safe place for a Republican candidate to inhabit.
However, it seems to be precisely this insistence on extremes that has landed the GOP in hot water to begin with. The Republican party has been engaged in a well-documented civil war that pits Tea Party members against less conservative individuals, and this gradual splintering has not gone unnoticed by voters. In fact, a Gallup poll found that "80 percent of Americans disapprove of the way Congress is doing its job, mainly because of partisan gridlock." And the minimum wage bill is just the latest casualty of this inability to compromise.
So while Romney might not be running again in 2016, maybe the next presidential candidates would do well to take a page out of his moderate book.