Bruce Rauner, a super rich Republican businessman who is running to be the next Governor of Illinois, unintentionally illustrated how the American people have changed their attitudes on raising the minimum wage.
Earlier this week, Rauner actually advocated decreasing Illinois’ minimum wage:
In a radio interview Tuesday, Bruce Rauner (R) went farther than the other three men competing for the Illinois GOP’s nomination, who all oppose Gov. Pat Quinn’s (D) push to raise the Illinois minimum wage from its current $8.25 hourly level to $10 by the end of 2014. “I will advocate moving the Illinois minimum wage back to the national minimum wage” of $7.25, Rauner told WBGZ listeners. That radio interview brought Rauner’s wage cut proposal to a broader audience, but it wasn’t the first time he had offered it. According to the Chicago Tribune, Rauner called for the same one-dollar cut in December at a candidates’ forum.
Hearing this news, folks went nuts. Rauner was slammed in the press. Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis pointed out that Rauner earned $7.36 per second during his private equity career.
Even Republican Bill Brady, a competitor for the nomination, called Rauner’s position “out of touch.”
So the next day, Rauner completely reversed:
“I made a mistake,” Rauner told the Tribune. “I was flippant and I was quick.” Rauner now proposes tying the Illinois minimum wage to the national wage…“I should have said, ‘Tie the Illinois minimum wage to the national wage and, in that context, with other changes in being pro-business, I support raising the national minimum wage.’ I’m OK with that.”
That would mean that if Congress is successful in passing an increase in the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, an effort endorsed by President Obama, Rauner would be “OK” with bringing Illinois’ minimum wage up to match it.
Remember, Bruce Rauner is a pro-corporate businessman from the private equity world, the same kind of work as Mitt Romney. He is running as a Republican. And opening his mouth and saying he wants a $1 reduction in his state minimum wage makes him a target of Democrats and Republicans, to the point that he immediately reverses course.
It’s 2014, folks. People are fed up with stagnant wages and political inaction. Anything can happen.