Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton made a surprise call this weekend to a major rally for “Fight for $15,” a union movement spurred largely by fast food workers dedicated to raising the national minimum wage to $15 per hour.
“I want to be your champion. I want to fight with you every day,” Clinton told the crowd via phone. “I’m well aware that the folks on top already have plenty of friends in Washington, but we together will change the direction of this great country.”
That led to headlines like this one:
But does she? Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, an aide didn’t think so:
On Sunday morning, she called into a Detroit convention of fast-food workers who are campaigning for a $15 minimum wage and urged them to “please keep up the fight.” But an aide said she wasn’t specifically endorsing the $15 minimum.
Likewise the Clinton campaign did not give a specific number to CNN. This has been going on for a while: back in April Clinton signaled support for the Fight for $15 movement while declining to specifically approve of the wage itself.
A rash of west coast metropolises have recently raised the floor to $15, with New York and St. Louis considering the same. Some critics counter that $15 is too high a spike for businesses to absorb and will trigger job losses, pushing instead a $12 wage that will roughly reset the minimum to its 1968 purchasing power.
Others suspect that the $15 number, which would represent a doubling of the current national minimum wage, has dragged up the figure Democrats feel comfortable demanding. President Barack Obama raised his own goal from $9 an hour in 2013 to $10.10; Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) recently proposed legislation bumping it to $12 by 2020. Even Sanders has leapfrogged his own figure; only two years ago he was calling for a $10.10 minimum wage.
Where in this spectrum does Clinton fall? No one seems to know, though campaign officials maintain she will roll out a series of substantive policy speeches over the next few months.
“It’s a long campaign,” a Clinton spokesperson said, “and she’ll be taking the coming weeks and months to explain her vision how to continue building an economy that allows everyday Americans to get and stay ahead.”
But do the fast food workers she encouraged this weekend know that?
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