Stand up for the facts!

Our only agenda is to publish the truth so you can be an informed participant in democracy.
We need your help.

More Info

I would like to contribute

Louis Jacobson
By Louis Jacobson May 19, 2016

Elizabeth Warren gets better of Donald Trump on his stance on abolishing federal minimum wage

The question of whether -- or how much -- to raise the minimum wage has been a divisive issue during the Democratic presidential primary. But it has also caused frictions between Republicans and Democrats.

A case in point is a recent Twitter exchange between presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, a favorite of the progressive wing of her party.

On May 11, Warren tweeted this: "You care so much about struggling American workers, @realDonaldTrump, that you want to abolish the federal minimum wage?"

Later that day, Trump tweeted back: "Goofy Elizabeth Warren lied when she says I want to abolish the Federal Minimum Wage. See media—asking for increase!"

Did Trump say he wants to abolish the federal minimum wage?

To be honest, Trump's comments are so all over the map that it's hard to definitively say. That said, it's also wrong of Trump to accuse Warren of lying. 

First, some background. There’s a federal minimum wage -- currently $7.25 an hour -- that sets an absolute wage floor for the country as a whole. Beyond that, though, states can set their own minimum wages higher than the national level, and many of them have. (This map shows the current state-by-state breakdown.) In the meantime, localities can also set minimum wage levels higher than that of their state.

The clearest example of Trump seeming to propose abolishing the federal minimum wage came in the May 8, 2016, edition of NBC’s Meet the Press, when host Chuck Todd prodded Trump on his minimum wage views. Here’s the relevant exchange:

Todd: "Should the federal government set a floor, and then you let the states--"

Trump: "No, I'd rather have the states go out and do what they have to do. And the states compete with each other, not only other countries, but they compete with each other, Chuck. So I like the idea of let the states decide. But I think people should get more. I think they're out there. They're working. It is a very low number. You know, with what's happened to the economy, with what's happened to the cost. I mean, it's just -- I don't know how you live on $7.25 an hour. But I would say let the states decide."

By answering no, we think many people would assume Trump does not want a minimum wage set by the federal government. That's what Warren certainly thought.

Featured Fact-check

We asked the Trump campaign whether he had simply misspoken in the heat of the interview and meant to say he supported keeping a $7.25 wage nationally and letting states set their own wage floor higher. But we didn’t hear back.

Trump's other recent comments about the minimum wage articulate no clear position.

• In an interview with MSNBC in August 2015, Trump said, "Having a low minimum wage is not a bad thing for this country."

• During the Republican debate in Milwaukee in November 2015, Trump said wages are "too high" and, when asked whether he would raise the minimum wage, said, "I would not do it."

• In December 2015, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders tweeted, "Donald Trump does not want to raise the minimum wage. In fact, he has said that he thinks wages in America are too high." Trump tweeted back, ".@BernieSanders-who blew his campaign when he gave Hillary a pass on her e-mail crime, said that I feel wages in America are too high. Lie!"

• On ABC’s This Week on May 8, 2016, host George Stephanopoulos asked Trump, "Minimum wage -- all through the primaries, you were against an increase. Now you're saying you're looking at it. So what's your bottom line on this?" Trump responded, "Well, I am looking at it and I haven't decided in terms of numbers. But I think people have to get more." When Stephanopoulos asked whether that’s a change, Trump answered, "Well, sure it's a change. I'm allowed to change. You need flexibility."

• In the May 8 Meet the Press interview, Trump said, "I have seen what's going on. And I don't know how people make it on $7.25 an hour. Now, with that being said, I would like to see an increase of some magnitude. But I'd rather leave it to the states. Let the states decide."

• And as we noted earlier, Trump tweeted to Warren that he’s "asking for (an) increase."

Our ruling

Trump said, "Elizabeth Warren lied when she says I want to abolish the Federal Minimum Wage."

Yet when Trump was asked if he would have a federal floor with states going higher if they wish,Trump said, "No." While Trump's other statements can leave readers with a different impression, there is certainly no evidence Warren lied. She simply used Trump's own words.

We rate this statement Mostly False.

Our Sources

Donald Trump, tweet, May 11, 2016

Elizabeth Warren, tweet, May 11, 2016

Meet the Press, transcript, May 8, 2016

This Week, transcript, May 8, 2016

Reuters, "Trump: 'Having a low minimum wage is not a bad thing,’ " Aug. 20, 2015

Time, Republican debate transcript, Nov. 11, 2015

Bernie Sanders, tweet, Dec. 27, 2015

Donald Trump, tweet, Dec. 27, 2015

U.S. Department of Labor, "Minimum Wage Laws in the States - January 1, 2016," accessed May 18, 2016

People For the American Way, "Trump Campaign Manager Open To Eliminating Federal Minimum Wage," May 12, 2016

Mother Jones, "BinC Watch: Donald Trump Has Now Changed His Mind on the Minimum Wage Three Times In Three Days," May 11, 2016

Email interview with Lacey Rose, spokeswoman for Elizabeth Warren, May 18, 2016

Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by Louis Jacobson

Elizabeth Warren gets better of Donald Trump on his stance on abolishing federal minimum wage

Support independent fact-checking.
Become a member!

In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.

Sign me up