Rauner Backtracks On Minimum Wage Comments (Sort Of) [UPDATE]

By aaroncynic in News on Jan 9, 2014 8:30PM

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Update, 2:45 P.M.: Looks like you shouldn't backpedal on your minimum wage stance if someone videotaped your original thoughts a few months ago. Sun-Times Voices uncovered a video of Rauner adamantly against raising the minimum wage, although in the video he does not state if that is pertaining to the Illinois or national amount. What a PR nightmare.

Millionaire and Illinois gubernatorial hopeful Bruce Rauner made an attempt to back away from comments he made about lowering the state’s minimum wage yesterday, telling the Chicago Tribune he “made a mistake.” Comments Rauner made about a month ago, where he said he would hammer the Illinois minimum wage down by $1 - back in line with the federal minimum wage - surfaced on Tuesday. “I think we’ve got to be competitive here in Illinois,” the business mogul turned GOP nominee hopeful said.

Rauner’s remarks created a firestorm of responses. Chicago Teacher’s Union President Karen Lewis challenged him via Twitter to live on minimum wage first for a month, then for 90 days. According to the Sun Times, Lewis said:

“I challenge him to accept a job that pays $7.25 an hour, without the promise of a 40-hour work week, and show us how he can maintain a family of four on those earnings and under the condition of uncertainty.”

In an email, Governor Quinn, who has supported raising the state’s minimum wage to $10 an hour, compared all four potential GOP nominees who oppose an increase to the Simpson’s loveable miser Mr. Burns. Of Rauner, Quinn said “One of them - a billionaire at that - even announced his proposal to slash the minimum wage by $1 an hour, taking $2,000 a year out of the pockets of those earning the least, which is cruel, heartless and wrong.”

Rauner spent yesterday doing damage control as the story broke. “I made a mistake. I was flippant and I was quick,” he said aboard the “Shake Up Express,” his week long campaign tour. Rauner added:

“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.”

While he acknowledged the issue is a “sensitive” one, he quickly dusted off some standard pro-business talking points. Rauner called the fracas a “class warfare issue because Democrats created a state “hostile to business.” “Businesses are the source of our prosperity and you can’t be pro-job and anti-business,” he said while channeling John Galt’s ghost. “It’s not possible.”

Between Tweeting about how fabulous it is to stay at a Super 8 motel just like an average joe who makes $7.36 a second does, Rauner also penned an op-ed for the Tribune further clarifying his stance. “Incremental increases in the minimum wage won't address the underlying skills and investment gaps in Illinois,” he wrote. Rauner said he would favor increasing the wage if “we also adopt creative solutions to avoid further damage to our state's already shattered business climate.” He added the state needs “great schools and vocational training.”

If Rauner’s statements sound familiar, it’s because they are. Those “creative solutions” are the same ones every candidate who champions running government “like a business” keeps trotting out to voters. The talking points might change, yet the "solutions" always seem the same: weakening protections for workers, giving more tax breaks (if not outright tax dollars) to corporations with no accountability and the further privatization of the public sector.