The leading Republican candidate for Governor in Illinois, multi-millionaire Bruce Rauner, thinks the state’s minimum wage is too high. On Tuesday, Rauner, whose annual income exceeded 50 million dollars in 2012, called for cutting Illinois’ minimum wage from 8.25 and hour to 7.25. Rauner’s position differs starkly from that of current Democratic Governor Pat Quinn who is pushing for raising the state’s minimum wage to ten dollars an hour.
Quinn wasted no time in pointing out how out of touch Rauner seems to be by noting that raising the minimum wage, instead of cutting it, would help stimulate the state’s economy. Quinn stated in a fundraising letter to potential donors that:
Putting more money into the pockets of those who are living paycheck to paycheck is not only the right and decent thing to do, it’s good for the economy. Everyday people don’t admire the extra money they earn in the bank – they spend it in the local community, creating more jobs.
A full-time minimum wage worker in Illinois earns a little over 1400 dollars a month, compared to the 4.4 million a month Rauner makes for being a venture capitalist and having ownership stakes in the Chicago Bulls, Pittsburgh Steelers and Boston Red Sox. Even though the average rent in the city of Chicago is over 1000 dollars a month, Rauner wants to see the full-time pay of a 40-hour week minimum wage worker reduced by 170 dollars a month to just over 1200 dollars a month. For residents in Chicago such a pay cut would render them unable to afford anything beyond the monthly rent.
Rauner likes to portray himself as an ordinary, everyday kind of guy, but his immense wealth coupled with his savage proposal to reduce the wages of those who are already unable to make ends meet, belies that manufactured image. At a time when wealth disparities are increasing, the Illinois Governor’s race is yet another reminder of the stark differences between the two major parties regarding economic policy.
While neither major party candidate is pushing a living wage of 15 dollars an hour, Democrat Pat Quinn is trying to get the state to approve a 21 percent pay hike for minimum wage workers. By contrast, Republican Bruce Rauner is on record saying fast food and retail workers who are already near or below the poverty line should take a 12 percent pay cut for the good of the state. Meanwhile, Rauner continues to make 140,000 dollars a day from passive investments and venture capital. He earns in one day what it takes a minimum wage worker in his state over eight years to earn working full time, and yet he thinks they are paid too well.
Keith Brekhus is a progressive American who currently resides in Red Lodge, Montana. He is co-host for the Liberal Fix radio show. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri. In 2002, he ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate in the state of Missouri. In 2014, he worked as a field organizer for Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick’s successful re-election bid in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. He can be followed on Twitter @keithbrekhus or on Facebook.