John Kasich Says He's Fine With 'Reasonable' Minimum Wage Hike

"I just think you have to be realistic," the Ohio governor said, separating himself from the Republican pack.
Credit: Ty Wright via Getty Images

WASHINGTON -- Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) said Tuesday that he would be open to a "reasonable" federal minimum wage increase, further burnishing his reputation as the moderate in a crowded field of GOP presidential hopefuls.

Following a luncheon with the Lansing Chamber of Commerce in Michigan, Kasich was asked by MLive what he thought about raising the minimum wage.

"Have it be reasonable, because you could have unintended consequences if you start imposing a high wage, which could actually lead to fast-food restaurants putting in kiosks and middle-management people being upset that they can't get a raise," he said.

Kasich's openness to raising the federal minimum wage at all separates him from many other Republicans seeking their party's nomination. While Rick Santorum has expressed support for raising it, Jeb Bush has made the case for eliminating the federal minimum wage and leaving it to the states. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) has called the mere idea of the minimum wage "lame." And Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fl.) has previously said he doesn't think "a minimum wage law works."

Kasich, however, seems to have accepted the fact that the federal minimum wage, which was originally set during the Great Depression and has been boosted repeatedly over time, doesn't appear to be going anywhere. Though he declined to endorse a particular number, he said officials need to be cautious and "realistic" when they do raise it.

"I wouldn't get into numbers right now," he said. "I just think you have to be realistic, and management and labor can sit down and talk about what is an effective way to help.

"We have sort of a gradual one in Ohio," he added.

The Ohio minimum wage is currently $8.10 per hour, and it's indexed to rise according to the consumer price index each year. The federal minimum wage, which is the default wage floor in any state that doesn't set a higher one, is just $7.25 per hour and hasn't been raised since 2009.

Though Kasich's position on the minimum wage makes him an outlier this cycle, he would have found company with GOP nominee Mitt Romney back in 2012. The former Massachusetts governor said then that the minimum wage should rise along with the cost of living.

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