John McCain has been running for President for over a year and a half. And just once, I would like some member of the press to ask him where he would set the minimum wage.
Pick a number. Any number. Just tell us what you think is fair.
Since no one has asked, I can only look at his Senate voting record over 26 years. One might guess that $3.35/hour would be the number, as he opposed bills with stand alone increases ever since he joined the Senate.
Based upon what I can see, I think the only fair conclusion is that he does not support any federal minimum wage. He believes, at least as of January 2007, that $2.65 per hour is good enough.
In accepting the Democratic nomination for Vice-President, Joe Biden pointed out that on 19 separate occasions, John McCain voted against an increase in the minimum wage. Some in the McCain camp objected, and the fact check squads went to work. Biden's statement was found to be correct, and at least 19 votes against wage increases were found: Politifact Nevertheless, it was also pointed out that there were occasions when McCain voted in favor of legislation that included other provisions much more important to him. For example, when an increase in the minimum wage was tied to an Iraq funding bill, McCain voted for it.
So how do we know where he stands?
The most telling evidence are his votes on minimum wages as a stand alone issue. In January 2007, he voted against cloture on the bill to increase the federal minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25. See Minimum Wage Cloture Vote
But more telling, during that process, was a proposed amendment by retiring Republican Senator Wayne Allard of Colorado. He sought legislation to eliminate the federal minimum wage, and leave the matter to the states:
"Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, an employer shall not be required to pay an employee a wage that is greater than the minimum wage provided for by the law of the State in which the employee is employed and not less than the minimum wage in effect in that State on January 1, 2007.''.
Maverick McCain voted for the amendment. See Who Wanted To Eliminate The Federal Minimum Wage?
So that would leave the minimum wage at levels set by the states. Where would that leave the American worker, who John McCain so seeks to protect?
Well, if you are unlucky enough to live in a state like Mississippi, Tennessee, South Carolina or Louisiana, the bad news is that the state has no minimum wage. If you are lucky enough to live in Oklahoma, and get a job with a small business that employs fewer than 10, $2.00 per hour is just fine.
And if you are lucky enough to find yourself in Kansas when John McCain gets his wish, you would make a whopping $2.65 per hour. See State Minimum Wages
So just to clarify what John McCain means when he is standing strong by the American worker, let's do the math. You live in Kansas. You can work 40 hours a week. Let's say you really need the money, so you don't take any vacation, and work all 52 weeks. You can make $5512 per year!!!! How's that for "government getting out of the way"?
And just to be fair to John McCain, that does not even include the $5000 tax credit you can get for health insurance.
Now, perhaps there are one or two of you out there who are thinking that's not a great annual salary. Perhaps you are thinking that if you found yourself in that situation, you would want to be trained for a better paying job. That's fine, but please pay for that training out of your savings on your salary of $5512 per year. Because Maverick McCain does not want to invest any federal tax dollars on training you to become a more valuable worker. Even if you are only asking for a loan, and even if you need it to avoid a foreclosure:
McCain Voted Against a Pilot Program to Provide Low-Interest Loans to Workers in Job Training or Assistance Programs. In 2002, McCain voted to kill an amendment requiring the Labor Department to establish a pilot program providing low-interest loans to workers in job training or job assistance programs to enable workers to continue making their mortgage payments. [H.R. 3009, Vote #119, 5/21/02,]
And if you lose that $2.65 per hour job, don't go looking for extended unemployment benefits if you can't find another job right away:
McCain Opposed Extending Federal Unemployment Insurance Benefits for Jobless Workers. McCain voted against extending the expiring Temporary Emergency Unemployment Compensation program for another six months, with an additional 13 weeks of benefits for workers who exhaust their federal benefits while looking for a new job. The amendment also called for unemployment benefits for low-wage workers and workers seeking part-time employment. At the time the program was due to expire, more than 1 million long-term jobless workers were nearing the end of their state benefits. [S. 1054, Vote #152, 5/15/03]
The only interview I have seen where McCain was questioned on this issue came on Fox News, where he was asked if he supported the minimum wage. He said that the only reason he opposed minimum wage was that the bills were tied to other provisions that included pork barrel spending:
WALLACE: But why have you been (ph) against the minimum wage?
MCCAIN: ... I’m for the minimum wage increases when they are not attached to other big-spending pork barrel. The practice in Washington is attach a good thing to a bad thing. And that way, then you have to vote yes or no.
That was simply a lie.
He got away with it on Fox News.
But he should not have.
When the minimum wage increases came up as stand alone bills, he opposed them.
When a stand alone amendment was offered in 2007 eliminating the federal minimum wage altogether, he voted in favor. That amendment had nothing to do with "big spending pork-barrel."
So there you have it. Our straight talking, maverick, defender of the American worker.