GOP Senate Candidates In Missouri Don't Know Amount Of Federal Minimum Wage

WASHINGTON -- The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. But none of the three Republicans running in Missouri's U.S. Senate primary knew that fact when asked during a debate on Friday.

Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.), businessman Jon Brunner and former Missouri state treasurer Sarah Steelman are all competing to run against Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) in November.

The candidates faced off in a radio debate hosted by Charlie Brennan of KMOX in St. Louis. At one point in the debate, Brennan asked each of the candidates if they knew the amount of the federal minimum wage and if they would support increasing it. They all either said they didn't know the amount or guessed wrong.

Brunner went first, saying that his business was "always above the minimum wage because we were always looking for the best people."

Brennan then asked, "Okay, do you know what the minimum wage is?"

"No, sir," Brunner replied.

Steelman was next.

She guessed $7.50 an hour -- which is 25 cents higher than the actual minimum wage.

When asked whether she would like to see it go up, she replied, "No, I'm not in favor of increasing it at this time."

"I think it’s high enough as it is," she added. "Of course, from an economic perspective it has sometimes unintended consequences on the labor force as well. For example, young people sometimes can’t find jobs because they’re taken by other people and they don’t pay a lower wage, or are unable to pay a lower wage because of the minimum wage. So that squeezes jobs out."

Akin agreed with Steelman, saying he believes "this is just another example of a wrong thing that the government does."

"I don't think the government should be setting the prices or wages on different things," he said. "I don't think that's the function of the government. We have a government that whenever any government says we have to spend this much for this product or that product or you've got to pay this wage or whatever, that's basically government control of the marketplace. It always its destructive and disruptive."

"Do you know what the minimum wage is? " Brennan then asked.

"My guess is its somewhere in the 6 or 7, but I don't know the exact number right now," replied Akin, who, as a congressman, is currently responsible for helping to set federal policy.

While some states have higher minimum wages, Missouri's is the same as the federal level.

Watch the debate:

CORRECTION: This article previously listed Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Democrat, as a Republican.

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