North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis, the guy who just yesterday won his party's nomination for U.S. Senate and in 2011 proposed a strategy to "divide and conquer" the poor, was on MSNBC this morning to celebrate his primary victory and took a question from Chuck Todd about whether he would support raising the minimum wage. Tillis answered:
I believe that minimum wage decisions should be made by the state. [...] It's a decision that needs to be made closest by the people closest to the situation and I think that's state legislatures.Okay, so we have a pretty common dodge going on here—not rocket science, just your typical GOP politician hiding behind federalism to explain why he's not for raising the federal minimum wage. Todd followed up with the obvious question of whether Tillis thinks the minimum wage should be raised in North Carolina and Tillis said:
I think that that's a decision that legislature needs to make with businesses.Wait, so now it's not just the state legislature, but it's also businesses that should decide? That sounds suspiciously like saying the minimum wage should be whatever businesses pay, but unfortunately, Todd didn't follow up on that. Instead, Todd pressed Tillis to say whether he had a position on raising the minimum wage in North Carolina, given the fact that he is the leader of one of the chambers of North Carolina's state legislature. Tillis again dodged:
Right now, what we're trying to do is make the minimum wage, we've got a president and Kay Hagan who want to create a minimum wage economy. What I want to do is create jobs that make minimum wage irrelevant.Slick, eh? Turn a question about the minimum wage into a slogan-filled attack on Democrats without explicitly coming out against the minimum wage. But even though Tillis might not have specifically said he opposes the minimum wage, the logic of his statements point strongly to that conclusion. Moreover, earlier this year Tillis slammed the federal minimum wage as an "artificial threshold." Unless he meant that as a compliment, it's hard to see how he supports the minimum wage.
The good news is there's an easy way to find out: Instead of giving him a chance to dodge the issue by asking about raising the minimum wage, reporters should ask Tillis whether he supports it in the first place. If he doesn't support it, that's information voters deserve to have, and if he does support it, then the logic of his arguments against raising it fall apart. Either way, his position is something worth knowing. And he's a good enough politician that he won't divulge it voluntarily.