Letter from Ralph Nader to John Boehner on Conservative Support for Minimum Wage

The Honorable John Boehner
Speaker of the House
H­232, The Capitol Washington, DC 20515

July 4, 2014

Dear Speaker Boehner,

In recognition of our 238th Independence Day, I want to highlight over 20 conservatives, Republicans, capitalists, and corporations who have declared Independence from the corporate spin machine on poverty wages by endorsing a long­awaited and much­deserve restoration of the federal minimum wage, now frozen at $7.25 per hour:


  • ●  Phyllis Schlafly, conservative icon, wrote that “legislation to raise the minimum wage would elevate many low­wage earners above the income threshold that qualifies them for benefits and should result in reduced welfare spending. That’s a tradeoff Republicans could support.”
  • ●  Ron Unz, the former Republican gubernatorial candidate in California, has been campaigning for a major raise in the minimum wage on the premise that “there are so many very low­wage workers, and we pay for huge social welfare programs for them…
    [raising the minimum wage] would save something on the order of tens of billions of dollars. Doesn’t it make more sense for employers to pay their workers than the government?”
  • ●  Irwin Stelzer of the Hudson Institute has also made the conservative case for a higher minimum wage: “”Surely a policy that increases both aggregate incomes and the gap between the value of work…is worth another look.”
  • ●  When asked about the proposal to raise the minimum wage to $10.10, Bill O’Reilly, Fox News host, said “I say fine, up it…Ten bucks is OK with me.”

    Republican Politicians

  • Former Presidential candidate Rick Santorum has pushed raising the minimum wage as a tenet of blue collar conservativism: “Let’s not make this argument that we’re for the blue­collar guy but we’re against any minimum wage increase ever.”

  • ●  Fellow Presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty echoed Santorum’s message: “For all the Republicans who come on and talk about, ‘we’re for the blue­collar worker, we’re for the working person,’ there are some basic things that we should be for. One of them is reasonable increases from time to time in the minimum wage.”
  • ●  Even the last Republican nominee for President, Mitt Romney is in favor: “I think we ought to raise it, because frankly, our party is all about more jobs and better pay.”
  • ●  Let’s not forget that six sitting congressional Republicans ­­ Shelley Moore Capito (WV­02), Michael G. Fitzpatrick (PA­08), Peter T. King (NY­02), Frank A. LoBiondo (NJ­02), Christopher H. Smith (NJ­04), and Fred Upton (MI­06) ­­ wrote in a letter in 2006 pleading that “nobody working full time should have to live in poverty.”


  • ●  Nick Hanauer, a major Seattle venture capitalist has been making the capitalist’s case for a higher minimum wage: “Traditionally, arguments for big minimum­wage increases come from labor unions and advocates for the poor. I make the case as a businessman and entrepreneur who sees our millions of low­paid workers as customers to be cultivated and not as costs to be cut.”
  • ●  Margaret Dorfman, CEO of the Women’s Chamber of Commerce, has a similar message: “Raising the minimum wage puts dollars in the pockets of workers who are by necessity most likely to spend them immediately at the grocery store, the pharmacy, the auto­repair shop and other local businesses. Raising the minimum wage boosts the economy from the bottom up, which is exactly what we need.”
  • ●  Even uber­libertarian and Paypal co­founder Peter Thiel agrees: “Given how low the minimum wage is, and how generous the welfare benefits are, you have a marginal tax rate that’s on the order of 100 percent, and people are actually trapped in this sort of welfare state…I think the alternative to higher minimum wage is that [working] people simply end up going on welfare.”


● GAP Inc. recently announced a raise in their internal minimum wage to $10 by 2015, saying that it lives up to their promise to “do more than sell clothes.” CEO Glenn K. Murphy wrote
in the announcement: “To us, this is not a political issue. Our decision to invest in frontline employees will directly support our business, and is one that we expect to deliver a return many times over.” It turns out, they were right, reporting later: “After Gap announced in February that it will eventually raise its lowest pay to $10 an hour, job applications increased by at least 10

percent from the year before.” Lynn Albright, vice president for Old Navy told Bloomberg: “That we’d be able to be more competitive and attractive in getting the best talent we can find — that’s where the benefit will come… the more choices you have, the better selection you can make.”

  • ●  CostCo’s CEO Craig Jelinek, who starts his workers at $11.50 per hour plus benefits, has a similar story about their high wages: “An important reason for the success of Costco’s business model is the attraction and retention of great employees… instead of minimizing wages, we know it’s a lot more profitable in the long term to minimize employee turnover and maximize employee productivity, commitment and loyalty. We support efforts to increase the federal minimum wage.”
  • ●  Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks has stated: “On balance, I am a supporter of the minimum wage going up.”
  • ●  Subway’s CEO Fred Deluca stated to CNBC: “Over the years, I’ve seen so many of these
    wage increases… I think it’s normal. It won’t have a negative impact hopefully, and that’s what I tell my workers.”
  • ●  IKEA announced that they would peg their internal minimum wage to MIT’s Living Wage Calculator, when estimates the living wage a worker needs to make depending on where he or she lives.
  • ●  The legendary West Coast Burger Chain In­N­Out Burger starts its employees off at $10.50 an hour and provides workers paid vacations and 401(k) plans A company spokemsan has said: “We strive to create a working environment that is upbeat, enthusiastic and customer­focused…a higher pay structure is helpful in making that happen.”
  • ●  Entry­level Ben & Jerry’s workers receive $16.29 an hour. Company spokesman Sean Greenwood explains the company’s philosophy: “As we as a business prosper, those around us should prosper as well.”
  • ●  Even Don Thompson, the CEO of McDonald’s, told a Kellogg School of Management crowd last month, when asked about the minimum wage: “We will support legislation that moves forward.”
  • ●  Walmart’s spokesman David Tovar has said that increasing the minimum wage means that some of the 140 million people who shop at the chain weekly would “now have additional income.”

    These Republicans, capitalists, conservatives and corporations have joined a majority of the American people in the call to raise the wages of the 30 million Americans who are making less today than minimum wage workers made 46 years ago. As fireworks light up the night sky across America tonight, we hope you can provide a hopeful light in the dark night of corporate America’s poverty wage regime

by at least allowing the scheduling of a House vote on raising the federal minimum wage this month before your long August recess.


Ralph Nader
P.O. Box 19312 Washington, D.C. 20036