The federal government should leave the rate of minimum wage to the states because economic needs vary widely across the country, Republican Sen. John Thune told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Wednesday.
"I think the states are probably in a better position to determine, in terms of what their economic needs are, to make some of those decisions," Thune said.
In his home state of South Dakota, where the unemployment rate was 3.2 percent, Thune said a proposal would be on the ballot to raise the rate to $8.50. Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough argued that he didn't expect to see "a lot of job losses" if the measure passed, since South Dakota was "in a pretty good place to absorb" the effects of a wage hike
Democrats are emphasizing raising the minimum wage, after President Barack Obama announced he would increase the rate for some federal contract employees through executive action.
Thune said his state benefits from healthy financial and healthcare services industries, as well as from the ripple effects of the energy boom in neighboring North Dakota.
In other states, Thune said a policy to raise the minimum wage ran counter to "Economics 101."
"If you want more of something, you don't normally raise the price. If you want more jobs, want more employment, you don't raise the price of it," he said.
Thune said, "Everybody wants to see people come up the economic ladder." But he stressed that the best way to improve the economy was through job creation. He called current policy proposals "small ball ideas that do very little to help anybody's situation in life, and cost us jobs."
"Why would we be putting policies in place that have the potential to reduce the number of jobs, when the best way for people to climb out of the economic situation they're in is through a good job?" he asked.
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