Republican Bruce Rauner wants you to know that if elected governor of Illinois, he’ll “shake up Springfield” and will work to end the gravy train that is the state’s minimum wage. Stating that he wished to make Illinois more “competitive” (a typical euphemism for exploitation of workers) Rauner has seen fit in the course of his campaign, to make lowering the state’s minimum wage one of the mainstays of his economic policies.
Rauner, who is chairman of R8 Capital, a financial trading company based out of Chicago, believes the current minimum wage of $8.25 is simply too high and will seek to reduce it by a dollar to meet the current federal minimum. His calls for the reduction come as the fight for the working class continues heating up throughout state and federal governments.
As working Americans are increasingly finding salaried, professional level jobs evaporating only to be replaced with lower or minimum wage service sector employment, increasing numbers of conservatives like Rauner seem to be looking to squeeze the working classes even harder in the name of corporate competitiveness.
However despite Republican rhetoric about the minimum wage serving to kill jobs and their endless rhetoric regarding how proposed increases will bring about a financial and economic apocalypse, economic data regarding wages paints a very different picture. The Massachusetts based free-market think tank The Beacon Hill Institute has in a series of reports, found that overall state competitiveness is less a matter of minimum wages and more attuned to things such as tax policy, fiscal responsibility and balanced budgeting.
Furthermore, it is often and rightfully noted that beyond the nonsense and hyperbole with which corporate conservatives are keen to assert that minimum wage increases are only sought by workers who want luxury items like plasma televisions and BMWs, the reality of wage increases for working class Americans actually serves as something of their own economic stimuli, allowing workers who often live paycheck to paycheck to have additional disposable income, hence contributing to overall consumer spending.
This however, would seem to be lost on politicians like Rauner who in their crusades to further subjugate the working classes to the will and whim of the economic elite, fail even to acknowledge wealth-worshiping publications such as Forbes Magazine, who in recent ranking of most competitive states, found no correlation between wage rates and competitiveness.
As his campaign continues many economic analysts are coming out against Rauner’s proposals, pointing out that reducing the buying and spending power of the already marginalized poor and working classes could lead not to increased competitiveness, but an actual decline in Illinois’ overall economic health and appeal.
It cannot be surprising that a wealthy, financial industry executive who is seeking office under the banner of the Republican party has taken such steps to out himself as an unabashed classist. But it is just a bit of a wonder that for all of his supposed financial and economic knowledge and experience, that such a politically divisive and economically destructive policy proposal such as this would be found suitable to promote as a centerpiece in what many in Illinois are hoping will be a short and easily forgotten gubernatorial campaign.