"In our state, I felt it made more sense to index that so that businesses could see the change in cost over time in predictable ways rather than in large jumps from time to time," Romney told ABC News. "But I will look at the federal experience and see if I have any views on that. Of course, from time to time we increase the minimum wage. What's the best way to do that -- that's something that I'll take a closer look at."
The chief economist of the National Federation of Independent Businesses scoffed at Romney's predictability claim, underscoring the heartache Romney would feel from small businesses if he were to embrace indexing of the federal minimum wage.
"Well, my guess is that 99 percent of small-business owners out there would say, 'I don't know how that is going to help me,'" said Bill Bunkelberg, the chief economist of the NFIB and a professor at Temple University. "Indexing means that the minimum wage is going to go up every year making it harder and harder for young, unskilled people to enter the labor force and get some kind of training and experience."
While Romney can shore up his position with business groups by dropping his Massachusetts position on indexing, he risks being attacked by Democrats, and their allies in organized labor, for flip-flopping on yet another issue. Romney's change of heart on abortion rights has received the most attention but he has also switched positions on issues ranging from gay rights to immigration to campaign-finance regulation.
"This really does come down to the age-old question about politicians and whether they keep their promises. If it's something he promised to do in Massachusetts, there is no real reason, economically or otherwise, why it wouldn't make just as much sense to do it at the federal level," said Brad Woodhouse, president of Americans United for Change, a liberal advocacy group that backs a higher minimum wage. "If it was good enough for Massachusetts, it should be good enough for America."
ABC News' A'Melody Lee contributed to this report.