No, Trump did not say he wants to raise the minimum wage

Instead, he showed he’s more committed to federalism than most of the #NeverTrump shriekers.

For a guy who supposedly doesn’t understand policy, Donald Trump sure seems to understand it a lot better than some of the people who cover the news . . . or some of the people who knee-jerk react to the headlines in the news.

One of the first media narratives we got coming out of Trump’s essential clinching of the nomination was that he was now abandoning his conservative positions and tacking to the left, thus proving that all conservatives who voted for him had been suckers. And the leading example we heard was Trump’s “flip-flop” on the minimum wage. Primary season? No raise in the minimum wage? General election season? Hey, he’s open to it. You suckers believed him!

Except that the actual statement Trump made was nothing of the sort, and in fact demonstrated a greater commitment to federalism than those who sit around arguing about the minimum wage should be at the federal level. Which is to say, Trump doesn’t actually think there should be one:

TRUMP: …I would like to see an increase of some magnitude. But I’d rather leave it to the states. Let the states decide. Because don’t forget, the states have to compete with each other. So you may have a governor –

TODD: Right. You want the fed– but should the federal government set a floor, and then you let the states–

TRUMP: No, I’d rather have the states go out and do what they have to do. And the states compete with each other, not only other countries, but they compete with each other, Chuck. So I like the idea of let the states decide. But I think people should get more. I think they’re out there. They’re working. It is a very low number. You know, with what’s happened to the economy, with what’s happened to the cost. I mean, it’s just– I don’t know how you live on $7.25 an hour. But I would say let the states decide.

I’m not going to be in the business of telling you what is an isn’t a “conservative position,” lest I provoke a debate about what Buckley would say, what Kirk would say, what Hayek would say, etc., ad nauseum.

But when Trump says he’d like to see people make more, but that it should be left to the states, that’s about as federalist and Tenth Amendment as you’re going to get. It’s a classic case of federal restraint – something that even past Republican presidents haven’t been willing to engage in.

This is usually the part where the #NeverTrump people say, “Oh sure, he says that now, but just you wait . . .”

And sure. Trump could change his mind or he could simply not do what he said here. But if you’re reacting to what he did say, then you should understand what he said. He actually advocated a position that most conservatives would embrace – that it’s not the federal government’s business to tell businesses what they have to pay people, and that if the states want to make that determination, they can do what they want.

Still don’t trust him? Fine. Think what you want. But if you see this statement as a proposal to raise the federal minimum wage, then I’d suggest you understand policy much less than Donald Trump does.

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