U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine says Donald Trump is no friend to working Americans.
"He’s a 'you're fired' guy," Kaine said July 14 while introducing Hillary Clinton during a rally for her Democratic presidential campaign at Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale.
Kaine, widely reported to be among three finalists Clinton is considering for vice president, ticked off a series of issues on which he said Trump has betrayed workers. Among his beefs, Kaine accused Trump of "being against minimum wage."
"We want a ‘you’re hired’ president. It starts with fairness, equal pay for women, raising the minimum wage," Kaine said, drawing cheers from the crowd.
Is Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, "against minimum wage," as Kaine says? The answer is complicated.
The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. But it should be noted that 45 states set their own minimum wage, and 29 of them set it at a higher rate than the federal level, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Fourteen states, including Virginia, have a rate that’s the same as the federal rate, while another seven states either have no minimum or set it at a rate lower than the federal level.
In instances where the federal rate is higher than a state minimum or in states where there is no bottom rate, the federal wage prevails. In states where the minimum wage is set above the federal rate, the higher state rate applies.
Trump’s stance on wages has been murky. During a November 2015 primary debate, said that wages are "too high" and hamper the U.S. in competing with other nations. When asked if he would back an increase in the minimum wage, he said, "I hate to say it, but we have to leave it the way it is."
At others times during the months after that debate, Trump said he didn’t understand how people could live on $7.25 an hour.
Our colleagues at PolitFact North Carolina recently looked at a Clinton claim that Trump wants to get rid of a federal minimum wage. Her statement was rated True because of comments Trump made in a May 8 appearance on NBC’s "Meet The Press," when host Chuck Todd attempted to pin him down on his minimum wage stance.
PolitiFact North Carolina noted that Trump began by expressing sympathy for minimum wage workers. "I have seen what’s going on, and I don't know how people make it on $7.25 an hour," he said.
Trump said although he would like to see a higher minimum wage, he wouldn’t do anything, if elected, to make that a reality.
"I would like to see an increase of some magnitude," Trump told Todd. "But I'd rather leave it to the states. Let the states decide. Because don't forget, the states have to compete with each other."
Todd asked whether the federal government at least should set a floor on wages and allow the states to go higher.
"No," Trump replied. "I'd rather have the states go out and do what they have to do."
We reached out to Clinton’s Virginia campaign to find out the source of Kaine’s claim that Trump opposes the minimum wage. We were pointed to a series of Trump statements that all said he thought the minimum wage should be set by states, not Congress.
"On the minimum wage, I would like to leave it to the states because frankly, every state is different. Every state has different costs of living and everything else, and I would like to leave it to the states," Trump said in a May 9 interview on the Fox Business Network.
"But I will tell you, $7.25 is pretty tough, and as far as I’m concerned I could see something happening there, but I would leave it to the states."
Trump made a similar statement to Fox host Sean Hannity on May 12.
"I really like the idea because it’s so different - you know, it’s a big country - it’s so different and the cost of living is so different, I like letting the states set the minimum wage," Trump said.
In a radio interview on KVI in Seattle, Trump said again that states should set their own minimum wage, although he suggested that states that boosted their bottom wage might become uncompetitive with other states.
"I actually think that the states should make the decision," Trump said. "Here's what's going to happen. … All of a sudden in some cases states are going to become non-competitive and they're going to start losing maybe jobs and losing business, and they're going to have to readjust. Otherwise, they're just not going to have anything."
In the past, Trump has bristled at suggestions he opposes a federal minimum wage. In May, PolitiFact examined Trump’s claim that Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., "lied" when she said he wanted to abolish the federal minimum wage. That was rated Mostly False. PolitiFact reached out to Trump to see if he merely had misspoken when he told Todd he doesn’t support a federal wage floor but did not hear back.
We emailed the Trump campaign twice for comment on his position on the minimum wage but also did not hear back.
Kaine said Trump is "against minimum wage."
We would have had no issue if Kaine had said Trump opposes a federal minimum wage. But the senator’s statement lacks that specificity.
Trump repeatedly has said that Washington should not dictate a national minimum wage and that the matter should be left entirely to the states.
So we rate Kaine’s unqualified statement Mostly False.
Tim Kaine’s comments at Hillary Clinton’s rally at Northern Virginia Community College, July 14, 2016.
Email from Sarah Peck, Virginia spokeswoman for Hillary Clinton’s campaign, July 14, 2016.
The Department of Labor, "Minimum wage laws in the states," Jan. 1, 2016.
PolitiFact North Carolina, "Hillary Clinton: Donald Trump wants to get rid of the federal minimum wage," July 8,2016.
PolitiFact, "Elizabeth Warren gets better of Donald Trump on his stance on abolishing federal minimum wage," May 19, 2016.
NBC News, Meet The Press, transcript, May 8, 2016.
NBC News, Meet The Press interview with Donald Trump on May 8, 2016. (Trump’s statements on the minimum wage start at about 3:30 into the video.
Donald Trump interview on Fox Business Network’s Mornings with Maria, May 9, 2016. (His statement on the Minimum wage is at just over 8:00 into video).
Fox News transcript of Donald Trump’s interview with Sean Hannity, May 12, 2016.
KVI, John Carlson Show interview with Donald Trump, May 18, 2016. (Trump’s minimum wage comments are at just over 12:30 into recording).
Washington Examiner, "Trump hints at middle ground in minimum wage," May 23, 2016.
Washington Post, "Sorry suckers, Donald Trump didn’t actually shift on taxing rich and minimum wage," May 9, 2016.
PolitiFact, "Trying to pin down what Donald Trump thinks about abortion, the minimum wage and taxes," May 11, 2016.
The Guardian, "Trump calls for end of federal minimum wage as views shift," May 8, 2016.
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