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Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner's War on Workers

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message John Nichols       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   No comments

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Bruce Rauner's campaign for governor of Illinois hit a rough spot when it was revealed that he was talking about lowering the minimum wage.

That's right, lowering.

At a December, 2013, Republican campaign forum, the wealthy candidate declared, "I will advocate moving the Illinois minimum wage back to the national minimum wage. I think we've got to be competitive here in Illinois. It's critical we're competitive. We're hurting our economy by having the minimum wage above the national. We've got to move back to the national."

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Practically, what that would have meant was cutting the state's $8.25-per-hour wage guarantee down to the federal rate of $7.25-per-hour.

Politically, what that meant was trouble because, as the Chicago Tribune noted, the statement "had threatened to upend a carefully crafted campaign aimed at convincing Republican primary voters and independents that the man who is potentially the wealthiest candidate ever to run for public office in the state was a regular guy."

So Rauner backtracked, declaring that he was being "flippant" and that he was actually interested in increasing wages. (Never mind that tape of the radio interview in which the candidate was quoted as explaining that "I have said, on a number of occasions, that we could have a lower minimum wage or no minimum wage.")

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The flip-flop worked. Rauner was elected governor last November.

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John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, has written the Online Beat since 1999. His posts have been circulated internationally, quoted in numerous books and mentioned in debates on the floor of Congress.

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