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Not Conservative: Romney Backs Automatic Increases in Minimum Wage

BEGIN TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: "Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney renewed..." Now, listen to me, folks. Mitt Romney "renewed his support yesterday for automatic increases in the federal minimum wage to keep pace with inflation, a position sharply at odds with traditional Republican business allies, conservatives, and party senior lawmakers." By the way, folks, have you seen the teenage unemployment rate in this country? Well, can you say "25%"? It's 16%, 18%. It's way, way up there. The teenage unemployment rate, it's at record highs.

Whatever it is, it is at a record high, and why do you think that is? In part, it's the minimum wage. Businesses are having enough trouble as it is in this economy, and then to be told to go out and hire a bunch of people who have no experience and pay them an arbitrary amount of money that has no relationship to the business's operation or cost structure, is literally absurd. And so the only option the small businessman has is not hiring anybody. You can price it... It's sort of like raising tax rates and these dummkopfs in Washington think, "Well, you raise the tax rate and these taxpayers just sit out there like a bunch of idiots and they'll pay it." And every time tax rates are increased, guess what? Revenue goes down. If you want more of an activity, you cut taxes on it. If you want less of an activity, you raise taxes.

If you want more homes sold, then you allow the interest on a mortgage to be deducted. If you don't want a lot of homes to be sold, take that deduction away. If you want to spur teenage hiring, lower the minimum wage or get rid of it. If you want to retard teenage hiring -- if you want to slow it down, if you want to limit the amount of teenagers to get jobs -- raise the cost of hiring them. And that's what an increase in the minimum wage is. The minimum wage, the stock conservative answer to it is get rid of it. It certainly isn't to raise it. It certainly isn't to tie it to the cost of living index. But here we have from the AP: "Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney renewed his support Wednesday for automatic increases in the federal minimum wage to keep pace with inflation. "Said the former Massachusetts governor, 'I haven't changed my thoughts on that.' He told reporters this aboard his chartered campaign plane, referring to a stand he's held for ten years." Yeah, I want to raise the minimum wage. "He did not say if he would ask Congress to approve it."

Now, to my e-mail. "Dear Rush: You know Romney doesn't really believe this. Romney has to know the harm the minimum wage increase causes. This is probably a backtrack to show he cares about the poor." So here we have -- and this is not criticism. It's an illustration. He's doubled down on it. On an increase in the minimum wage, and a Romney supporter says, "No, no, Rush. He really doesn't mean that." What do you do? "He really doesn't mean it." It's not helpful.

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RUSH:  Look, I'm not being critical of this e-mailer.  This e-mailer is a teachable moment.  Mitt Romney says he's doubled down.  "I believe in an automatic increase in the minimum wage tied to inflation."  The Romney supporter says, "He doesn't really mean that.  He has to know the harm the minimum wage begets."  Well, for ten years he's held the policy and he's telling us today he's doubling down on it.  If he knows the harm it causes, why does he support it?  E-mail contains the answer.  "He's probably just backtracking to show he cares about the poor.  This is a way to try to make up for his blunder on the poor comment."  Well, doubling down on this only makes it worse.  'Cause let me tell you what's going on. 

There is a Republican primary going on right now, and who votes in a Republican primary?  Starts with a C.  Conservatives.  There are elements of conservatism that are fundamental.  And we conservatives, we have radar.  We know when somebody isn't.  If a Republican doesn't know the studied truth, the published data on the minimum wage, then red flags go up.  It's not that hard.  By the way, you don't have to have read a bunch of conservative work.  You don't have to have immersed yourself in a bunch of conservative magazines to understand here it's no different than a tax increase.  The minimum wage is a tax increase on small business disguised in fairness to the poor.  You know what small businesses do, especially at a time like this?  They say, "Okay, I'll go hire interns, pay 'em nothing.  Just go hire interns."  There's always a way around this stuff. 

There's always a way around onerous regulations.  Sometimes it's not worth the trouble.  Other times it is.  The national teenage unemployment rate in November, 21.4%.  The teenage unemployment rate in Washington is over 50%.  Now, who does the unemployment rate hit besides teenagers?  It hits the unskilled worker.  The unskilled worker who needs the first rung of that ladder.  We got two great examples here.  The comment on the poor.  I know what Mitt Romney was trying to do.  I know what he was trying to say.  In the process of doing what he did, saying what he said, he made it clear that he is a stranger to fundamental conservatism.  And for the people who oppose Romney, that's the biggest red flag. 

The Republican primary is made up of largely conservative voters.  A lot of people think Romney's conservative enough; others say he's not conservative at all.  And these two statements, "I don't care about the poor. We'll fix the safety net."  No.  No.  The whole safety net idea is a disaster.  It's robbing people of opportunity.  It's robbing people of dignity.  It's creating dependents. It's creating perpetual Democrat voters reproducing.  That's what it is.  That's what it was designed for.  LBJ, FDR, that was the purpose in all it is, to create an ever-growing and perpetually renewing pool of Democrat voters who never learn to depend on themselves, who never learn the skills to support themselves.  That's fine with the Democrat Party.  That's fine with guys like Barack Obama. 

Two things happen. Those people become dependent and then you run around and talk about how heartless and cruel the Republicans are for opposing ever more money in the policy to give them ever more benefits.  So it's a double whammy for 'em.  And the only way out of this is for somebody who understands conservatism in elective office to explain it.  We can do it all day here on talk radio, the blogs, the conservative magazines, the conservative education establishment.  They can write, they can publish all the stuff they want.  But, at some point, you have to have a candidate.  Who is this?  Who instinctively understands this?  Who can say this on the stump?  A Reagan, if you will.  I'm not asking for a carbon copy of Ronaldus Magnus.  Everybody knows that's not possible.  The real safety net's a job.  The real safety net is a job, and the minimum wage is one of the many obstacles in the way of people trying to find work in this economy. 

But it boils down to conservatism.  So I guarantee you there are a lot of people who oppose Romney in conservative circles who are pointing to these two examples, saying, "See, this is what we've been trying to tell you," and what are they up against?  "Well, you know, he has to know the minimum wage causes problems."  If he has to know, why is he supporting it?  "Well, he has to, Rush.  The media's liberal, he's gotta act like he cares about the poor."  Well, that's McCain.  We're tired of having to tailor what we do and say to get the approval of the New York Times or the Washington Post or everybody else in the media, the Democrat Party.  We want somebody who can teach, who can inform, who can explain, who can persuade the way we can.  Pure and simple. 

And businesses, you think that they're sitting around getting screwed -- and they are, in their own way with all these regulations.  But if the minimum wage gets to the point, and it arbitrarily is, 'cause it's never related to market forces, what will businesses do?  They'll just hire young people as interns and not pay them anything, or pay them very little.  Don't pay 'em at all.  So internships become the only entry-level position open up to young people.  That's not good.  They get college credits from Obama's friends in Big Education for doing the internship, but that's it.  Your first job, you know nothing.  You don't know anything.  They're training you, they're teaching you. I learned shining shoes.  And there wasn't a minimum wage. I made $50 in three months.  There was no minimum wage.  It was whatever I earned, which was fine with me. 

And then there's this added distortion that everybody who earns the minimum wage has a family of four to support.  This is another part of the charade the Democrats play. They try to convince you that every minimum wage earner is a 40-year-old, bedraggled person who the Republicans don't care about, who the Republicans are trying to keep poor and homeless, trying desperately in this horrid country to support a family of four.  And the vast majority of people on the minimum wage are teenagers, young people.  If the minimum wage gets too high and then they start cracking down on interns, what's the next place business will go?  Illegal aliens.  You see how this works?  The minimum wage can be said to be responsible for a whole bunch of problems in this country.  While a bunch of dummkopfs run around thinking with their hearts, "Oh, boy, is that compassion.  We need a high minimum wage, Mr. Limbaugh, so that these unfortunate people can at least go out and buy some Swiss cheese.  That's the kind with holes in it. It's gotta be cheaper than the real cheese, right, Mr. Limbaugh?  And you just oppose this."  No. 

So it all gets couched as people who oppose it, mean-spirited, cold-hearted, want people to be poor when it's just the opposite.  We want the best for everybody.  We want everybody to be able to taste the opportunity this country provides.  You take the bottom rung of the ladder away from 'em and you create a bunch of dependent people who then beget a whole bunch of other dependent people. The number one most important thing about them is they vote Democrat, which ensures they're going to be kept dependent.  That's why it matters that a Republican conservative be able to counter that and all the other distortions that are out there about conservatism. 

That's why this matters. It's why it matters that, "Well, I don't really care about the poor. They've got a safety net. If that needs repairs, I'll fix it." Um, everybody knows he was trying to zero in and say, "The middle class is who's getting hurt," and I appreciate that, but that's been lost in this, hasn't it? But why has it been lost? Not 'cause the media is unfair. Everybody knows that going in. It's not because the media is doing something dirty to Romney. It's because he gave 'em the chance. In this charged atmosphere, if you don't instinctively know that saying, "I don't care about the poor," means whatever follows is never gonna be heard -- if you don't instinctively understand that -- then people are going to question just how conservative you really are.

That's what's happening here. I'm just trying to explain it to you, folks. (New Castrati impression) "So, Mr. Limbaugh, does this mean that you endorsing Newt?" No, no, no. Don't go there. Snerdley, don't put up a bunch of calls today that are gonna try to apply pressure, 'cause it isn't gonna happen.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: The Reagan administration, by the way, is the only administration in recent history to not raise the minimum wage -- and look how that hurt the economy! Yeah. Thomas Sowell, once called the minimum wage "the Black Youth Unemployment Act." I get e-mails from Greg Mueller a lot. Greg Mueller is a public relations guy who always sends me notes about what his clients think, what he wants me to say about 'em, and he sent me this. He said, "Hey, Rush. Here's my view in today's National Journal. Some Republicans said that Romney spoke a simple truth, one the middle class understands. Romney was saying that the very rich can take care of themselves, the very poor receive numerous benefits; that it's the working middle class that's often overtaxed and neglected in tough economic times," said Mueller.

"This is true, and Romney's point was the best way to raise all boats is through limited government and a free economy, not socialism. We'll win that argument." Did Romney say "raise all boats" and "limited government" and all that? Here again, let's read between the lines: "Let's look at what Romney didn't say for what he means," and there are people... I should tell you this, "just to be fair." There are people who are sending me notes say, "Rush, you're missing the boat. Romney is genuine. This is authentic. He's not worried about saying it the right way. This is authentic! Here's a guy who's not trying to shape and form his comments for consumption. He's just open book.

"He's just telling us who he really is and what he really thinks, and that's authentic, Rush, and everybody says we need more authenticity in our candidates." This is my point. It's all over the board, and I don't think an endorsement is gonna change anybody. That's my point.

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