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Amy Sherman
By Amy Sherman October 5, 2016

Tim Kaine says Donald Trump, Mike Pence want to eliminate the federal minimum wage

Sen. Tim Kaine tried to align himself and Hillary Clinton with working people while portraying Donald Trump and Gov. Mike Pence as representing the wealthy.

"First, Donald Trump said wages are too high, and both Donald Trump and Mike Pence think we ought to eliminate the federal minimum wage," Kaine said during the vice presidential debate at Longwood University in Farmville, Va.

We found that Trump has been all over the map about wages and the federal minimum wage, while Pence opposed raising the minimum wage as a member of in Congress.

Trump and the minimum wage

No state can set a minimum wage lower than the federal minimum wage of $7.25. But states can set a higher wage.

Trump has made some conflicting statements about wages. Early in the campaign, he often said wages were too high and showed no interest in raising the federal minimum wage.

"We have to become competitive with the world," he said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe in November  2015. "Our taxes are too high, our wages are too high, everything is too high. What's going to happen is now people are going to start firing people."

That echoed similar comments he made during the Republican presidential debate in November that wages are "too high" and, when asked whether he would raise the minimum wage, said, "I would not do it."

But later in the campaign, Trump showed more interest in raising the minimum wage, though he often said that he would leave that up to the states.

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."

Also on May 8, on NBC’s Meet the Press, he said that he doesn’t understand how people survive on the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

Trump said that while he would personally like to see a higher minimum wage, he would leave that up to the states.

"I would like to see an increase of some magnitude," Trump told NBC’s Chuck 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 followed that up by asking if Trump thought the states should only be able to decide whether to raise their minimum wages from the $7.25 federally mandated minimum wage, or if there should be no federal minimum wage at all – giving states the option to go lower than $7.25 or have no minimum wage at all.

"But should the federal government set a floor?" Todd asked.

"No," Trump replied. "I'd rather have the states go out and do what they have to do."

Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung referred us to Trump’s statement about letting the states set the minimum wage from his July 27 press conference in South Florida.

Here’s what Trump said:

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"The minimum wage has to go up. People are -- at least $10, but it has to go up. But I think that states -- federal -- I think that states should really call the shot. As an example, I live in New York. It's very expensive in New York. You can't buy a hot dog for the money you're talking about. You go to other states and it's not expensive at all. Now what it does is puts New York at a disadvantage if the minimum wage is up, companies move out and things, bad things happen. At the same time, people have to be taken care of. But what I'm really going to do on the minimum wage -- but it has to go up... So I would like to raise it to at least $10."

We gave him a Full Flop for his stance on whether the federal government should set the minimum wage.

Pence statements on minimum wage

Pence has a record of opposing minimum wage increases and bashing the minimum wage in general while in Congress. However, we could not find evidence he wants to eliminate it as Kaine claimed.

In July 2006 while in Congress, Pence said in a statement to the press that he opposed legislation that he said would raise the federal minimum wage by 41 percent.

"Minimum wage increases raise unemployment among teenagers, minorities and part-time workers," he said. "The minimum wage violates fundamental free market economics. It costs jobs, and I cannot support policies that will take jobs from those who need a paycheck the most.

Pence was one of 21 House Republicans who voted against a bill that included an increase in the minimum wage.

Pence voted against raising the minimum wage in January 2007 over two years from $5.15 to $7.25.

"An excessive increase in the minimum wage will hurt the working poor, Mr. Speaker, and especially those who are trying to begin the American Dream by entering the workforce at entry level jobs," he said. "Minimum wage increases, the unbroken record of our economic history attests, raise unemployment among the young, minorities and part-time workers -- the very people that a minimum wage is thought to help."

In 2013 as governor, Pence signed a law that prohibits local governments from requiring businesses to pay a higher minimum wage beyond what is required in federal law.

We asked a Trump spokesman about Pence’s current position on the minimum wage and did not get a response to that specific question. But when we asked if Pence ever called for eliminating the federal minimum wage, Cheung said "No. He voted against raising the (federal) minimum wage in 2007."

We told Clinton’s spokesman we found examples of Pence opposing an increase in the minimum wage but not calling for eliminating it.

Spokesman Josh Schwerin said that Kaine was referring to the "Trump ticket" and that it is Trump who "dictates the agenda."

Our ruling

Kaine said "First, Donald Trump said wages are too high, and both Donald Trump and Mike Pence think we ought to eliminate the federal minimum wage."

He’s right that Trump has said that about wages, but Kaine exaggerates by saying Trump and Pence want to eliminate the minimum wage.

Trump has been all over the map on wages and the federal minimum wage. He has said he wouldn’t raise the minimum wage. He later seemed open to raising the minimum wage but has said that states should make the decision.

Pence’s record in Congress showed he was against raising the minimum wage and made some critical comments about the idea of a minimum wage, but we didn’t find him calling for eliminating it.

We rate this claim Half True.

Our Sources

Huffington Post, "Mike Pence Once Thought A $7.25 Minimum Wage Was Too High," july 16, 2016

The Star Press, "Pence opposes minimum wage hike," (Accessed in Nexis) Jan. 11, 2007

The Times of Northwest Indiana, "Indiana unlikely to boost minimum wage despite widespread support," Nov. 12, 2013

Rep. Mike Pence, Press release, (Accessed in Nexis) July 28, 2006

Rep. Mike Pence, Press release (Accessed in Nexis) Jan. 10, 2007, HR 2, Jan. 10, 2007, HR 5970, July 29, 2006, HR 5970, July 29, 2006

Fusion, "TRUMP: Yes, I would shut down mosques. Also, salaries of American workers are too high," Oct. 21, 2015

The Hill, "Trump doubles down on debate claim: ‘Wages are too high,’" Nov. 11, 2015

Gannett, "Plenty of politics but little real action on minimum wage increase," (Accessed in Nexis) Aug. 4, 2006

PolitiFact, "Donald Trump gets a Full Flop for stance on minimum wage," July 28, 2016

Washington Post, transcript of Donald Trump press conference, July 27, 2016

Bloomberg, "Trump’s Minimum-Wage Reversal Is Latest Headache for Republicans," July 27, 2016

PolitiFact, "Sanders: Trump would allow states to lower the minimum wage," July 26, 2016

PolitiFact North Carolina, "Hillary Clinton: Donald Trump wants to get rid of the federal minimum wage," July 8, 2016

PolitiFact, "Trying to pin down what Donald Trump thinks about abortion, the minimum wage, taxes, and U.S. debt," May 11, 2016

Interview, Josh Schwerin, Hillary Clinton campaign spokesman, Oct. 4, 2016

Interview, Steven Cheung, Donald Trump campaign spokesman, Oct. 4, 2016

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Tim Kaine says Donald Trump, Mike Pence want to eliminate the federal minimum wage

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