The crowd at a candidate forum last night in Bettendorf applauded when none of the five Republicans vying for the GOP’s U.S. Senate nomination indicated support for a minimum wage increase.
“Could I get a show of hands for who supports raising the federal minimum wage?” KWQC anchor Gary Metiver asked and none of the candidates raised his or her hand.
However, retired energy company executive Mark Jacobs was the first candidate to explain their stand on the minimum wage issue and Jacobs suggested he might vote for it if he’s elected to the U.S. Senate.
“I agree with Senator Grassley on this one, I think that’s something we could look at, but I think it’s another example of career politicians in Washington attacking the symptom of the problem rather than the root cause,” Jacobs said.
Joni Ernst, a state senator, opposes an increase in the minimum wage.
“But it is a safety net for those that are just entering the workplace, gaining some initial skills before they hopefully move on to other positions of greater responsibility which will pay more and I think we’ve already determined that many ofthe jobs here in Iowa and across the United States already pay more than the minimum wage,” Ernst said. “I don’t think the government should be involved in that discussion.”
Sam Clovis, a Morningside College economics professor, said raising the minimum wage “is a form of taxation” because businesses will raise prices for consumers and some workers will lose their jobs.
“Why is the government interfering in the economy in this way? It’s not the role of the government. I don’t find that anywhere in the constitution that it says that we have to go out here and establish a minimum wage,” Clovis said. “…If people are willing to go out here and work, they can find the jobs and…I would say almost all the jobs that are available today, anyway as I travel around the state of Iowa, are more than $10 an hour.”
Matt Whitaker, a former federal prosecutor, would not vote to raise the minimum wage if he’s elected.
“I know from experience and common sense that raising the minimum wage will hurt the very people that we’re trying to help,” Whitaker said.
Scott Schaben, a car sales manager from Ames, said he has no problem with a federal minimum wage.
“The problem I have would be raising it right now when the uncertainty of the employer mandate about it hit,” Schaben said.
Schaben said many business owners would be hard pressed to raise wages while they’re getting health care coverage for their employees to avoid the Affordable Care Act’s penalty.
The Iowa Democratic Party called the Republicans’ opposition to increasing the federal minimum wage “wrong for working families and wrong for Iowa.” Last night’s debate in Bettendorf was sponsored by the Scott County Republican Party, The Quad City Times and KWQC television.