Hillary Clinton Isn’t Going As Far As Her Democratic Rivals on Minimum Wage

PHOTO: Hillary Clinton is pictured giving an economic speech at New York University on July 24, 2015 in New York City.PlaySpencer Platt/Getty Images
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Hillary Clinton today came out in support of New York’s plan to increase minimum wage for its fast-food workers to $15 an hour -- but the endorsement still places Clinton well behind many of her Democratic challengers on the issue.

"I agree with New York’s proposal this week to raise wages for fast food workers to $15 an hour," Clinton said during a speech on corporate culture at New York University.

Clinton said the “national minimum wage is a floor and it needs to be raised,” but noted that it can vary based on cost of living in different cities.

"The cost of living in Manhattan is different than Little Rock and many other places, so New York and Los Angeles or Seattle are right to go higher," Clinton added.

While Clinton’s support of the $15 minimum wage for some workers in New York is the furthest she has gone yet on the issue of minimum wage, it still falls short of the bar set by some of her Democratic rivals, including Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, both of whom have called for doubling the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 to $15 dollars an hour nationwide.

“I think if you work 40 hours a week you have a right not be living in poverty,” Sanders said earlier this week, standing alongside hundreds of low-wage workers who walked out of food service and janitorial jobs at federal buildings in D.C. Sanders, who has centered his campaign on the fight against income inequality, called on the President to act now and only award federal contracts to companies paying higher wages. He also introduced a bill that would a bump the national minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020.

“Today, we send a very loud message to the U.S. Congress and the president ... that all of our workers from coast to coast need at least $15 bucks an hour,” he continued.

O’Malley has pushed this issue, too.

As governor, he successfully signed a law increasing the state minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, but on the campaign trail he has repeatedly said he is favor of $15 dollars an hour.

“Some people will say this is hard to do. And it will be. But leadership is about forging public consensus--not following it. On this issue, we must lead with our progressive values to rebuild the American Dream,” O’Malley said in the statement Wednesday.

Advocates of a higher minimum wage enjoyed at least one major victory just this week. The Los Angeles County followed the City of Los Angeles and voted in favor of adopting a $15 an hour plan as well.

But recent national polling, suggests Americans are not in favor of such a big hike. According to a CBS News-New York Times poll released in June, while 71 percent support raising the minimum wage, only 38 percent are in favor of “requiring fast food chains and other hourly employers to pay workers at least $15 per hour.” Though, according to the same poll, a small majority of Democrats -- 56 percent -- support the idea.