Congressman Adrian Smith says an increase in the minimum wage could do more harm than good.
And, the Congressman says it is too early to respond to a debate challenge issued by his opponent.
Smith says the push in Washington to increase the minimum wage by nearly 40% is the wrong debate.
“We need market-based wages,” Smith says. “The market can drive up wages much better than the government can and I hear from small businesses which are concerned that they would not be able to employ as many people with minimum wage being forced up by the government.”
President Barack Obama proposed the big jump in the minimum wage during the State of the Union report.
Smith says even with a jump from $7.25 to $10.10/hour leaves a minimum wage job as a starting position.
“It is a political motive, I think, that they have,” Smith says of the proposal. “But, certainly I couldn’t tell any wage earner that they’re going to get wealthy on 10.10 an hour.”
Smith defends the actions of House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, who passed legislation to raise the debt ceiling with few Republican votes, relying on Democrats to carrying it to passage. Smith says the Speaker worried about edging the country toward default. Smith says he couldn’t support raising the debt ceiling, because the measure contained no budget cuts.
Smith brushes aside a question of whether he will accept the challenge to debate Tom Brewer.
“Well, it’s premature. We haven’t even faced the filing deadline and other reports and so forth. I debate the issues every day and we debate the issues in Washington. I talk to constituents who bring up their ideas to me and that’s an important part of the process,” Smith says. “Elections happen every two years and we’ll make those decisions when the time is appropriate.”
Smith has served four terms in Congress. Brewer, a retired Army colonel, has filed to challenge him for the Republican nomination. Brewer has called for a broadcast debate between the two.
The primary is May 13th.
Kevin Thomas, KLIN, contributed to this article.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:40]