CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Republican candidate for U.S. Senate John Raese doesn't just want to abolish the minimum wage. He also calls it possibly unconstitutional.
That's what he said in an interview with The Washington Times newspaper published Thursday. Raese would not say whether he believes Medicare and Social Security are constitutional, the newspaper reported.
In discussing minimum wage, Raese pointed to the National Recovery Administration, an agency set up as part of President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal economic programs.
"It was declared unconstitutional because it was government micromanaging an intervention into the private sector," he said. "Well, what are price controls, or what are wage controls? They're the same thing."
In 1935, the U.S. Supreme Court declared part of the National Industrial Recovery Act unconstitutional, ruling that it violated separation of powers and the U.S. Constitution's commerce clause.
West Virginia is one of the nation's poorest and oldest states. Nearly 18 percent of West Virginians live in poverty, compared to 14 percent of Americans, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
The Mountain State has the nation's highest proportion of residents who receive Medicare benefits, at 21 percent, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Democratic Gov. Joe Manchin's campaign seized on Raese's remarks as a sign that Raese, a multimillionaire, is out of touch with West Virginians.
"Raese's opposition to the minimum wage would have been devastating enough for working families," Manchin campaign spokeswoman Lara Ramsburg said in a statement, "but with his latest attacks on Social Security and Medicare, he is putting the health and well being of West Virginians in danger by eliminating the guaranteed benefits that these programs provide."