Donald Trump kicked off the fourth GOP debate by boldly proclaiming that “wages [are] too high.” The comment went relatively unnoted by moderators as several other candidates proceeded to critique federal minimum wage policy. Yet, Trump’s position is far outside even Republican mainstream thinking on the topic.
Many of the Republican candidates either oppose the minimum wage or at least oppose raising it, but Trump's comment goes a little further. Most Republican criticisms of the minimum wage are predicated on the assumption that the minimum wage doesn’t actually work to raise wages. Many economists disagree with that claim, but, regardless of whether or not it is true, the Republicans who espouse this view aren’t arguing for lower wages.
However, that's exactly what Trump’s comments, taken as is, would seem to suggest. He doesn’t just think that minimum wage law isn’t working well, but that it would be bad thing even if it did work.
Other Republican candidates have indicated that they believe wages should be higher. Earlier Tuesday night, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee bemoaned the fact that wages for the bottom 90 percent of earners haven’t risen in 40 years, while former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum said his policies would help raise purchasing power for wage earners.
By contrast, Trump seems to want to disempower wage earners, presumably to the benefit of their employers, who have to compete for labor by offering wages. His comments come on the same day as massive minimum wage protests occurred across the country.