Missouri Senator Josh Hawley, prominently mentioned as a possible presidential contender in 2024, is running hard to separate himself from the potential pack of candidates.
While Hawley’s numbers took a hit following the Capitol riot of January 6, he is still broadly popular with Republican voters in Missouri and has actually improved his standing with the GOP nationwide. His name recognition soared 23 points, according to a recent Morning Consult poll.
Hawley is proposing an alternative to the $15 an hour minimum wage hike currently in the pandemic relief bill being considered by Congress. His idea centers around a tax credit to workers making $16.50 or less.
Under the proposed bill, those making less than $16.50 per hour will receive a refundable tax credit worth 50 percent of the difference, paid out in quarterly installments. For example, if a worker is making $12 per hour, he or she would be eligible for a $2.25 per hour credit.
The $16.50 cutoff could increase over time, as it would be connected to the Consumer Price Index, a measurement of the average cost of consumer goods and services, such as transportation, food and medical care.
The kicker is that the increase would be paid for by the federal government to the tune of about $200 billion. Hawley would also support a $15 an hour minimum wage for those who work at corporations that make at least $1 billion a year.
Only American workers with valid Social Security numbers would be eligible, meaning non-U.S. citizens and illegal aliens would be excluded.
Hawley doesn’t expect his proposals to go anywhere in the House or Senate. He’s jostling with other Republicans to break out and get ahead of the pack. He doesn’t have the name recognition of Mike Pence or some other potential Republican candidates so trying to make a splash early is a good strategy.
Always, looming in the background of any 2024 talk is Donald Trump. Trump will address CPAC this coming Sunday and given the certainty of a wild, enthusiastic crowd welcoming him, pretenders to the throne — such as Hawley, Pence, and Pompeo — will have to sit back and wait for Trump to make a decision about his future.
There’s no doubt the former president is thirsting for revenge against Biden and would dearly love a rematch in 2024. But Trump’s first order of business is to take revenge on those who he thinks betrayed him by voting for his impeachment. He will bide his time and leave everyone hanging on his decision to run or not to run until the last minute.
Meanwhile, the prime contenders if Trump chooses not to run are caught in a kind of political limbo. They can’t run full-bore for the nomination and if they try to soft-pedal their candidacy, they risk falling back into the pack.
Hawley, too, will address CPAC attendees and there should be a lot of sympathy for him as a result of the pummeling he’s taking in the national media for leading the charge for Trump in the senate against certifying the election. It will be interesting to see if Hawley embraces his insurgent role going forward or tries to separate himself from Trump and carve out an independent persona.