Trump's Top Economic Adviser Calls for 'Unlimited Minimum Wage' Through 'Private Sector Prosperity'

President Donald Trump's top economic adviser Larry Kudlow called for an "unlimited minimum wage," arguing that wages would grow substantially for workers if the administration's current policies continue and lead to sustained "private sector prosperity."

Kudlow, who serves as the director of Trump's National Economic Council, made the remarks during an interview with Fox News morning show Fox & Friends on Tuesday. The shows hosts were discussing raising the minimum wage and a suggestion from Democratic Representative Rashida Tlaib of Michigan to increase the federal minimum to $20 per hour, or $5 more than what others have traditionally called for.

Although Kudlow admitted that a recent Congressional Budget Office report did find that raising minimum wage to $15 per hour would substantially increase wages for millions of workers, he also pointed out that it had found that millions of jobs would also be cut with such a significant wage increase. He then suggested that the minimum wage should be set by a prosperous private sector.

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An activist wears a 'Fight For $15' t-shirt during a news conference prior to a vote on the Raise the Wage Act on July 18 at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Alex Wong/Getty

"Look, here's the Kudlow remedy for minimum wage," the economic adviser said, telling the Fox & Friends hosts to take notes. "We have tremendous prosperity. We are growing across the board. Unemployment is down. Wages are up. Consumers are booming. It's across the board ... So, we can have an unlimited minimum wage through private sector prosperity," he argued.

"I'm gonna say $15 to $20 minimum wage because of private sector prosperity. That is the best way to do it and that's where we're going," Kudlow insisted.

While the economy has been performing well, as Kudlow asserted, wage growth has remained relatively low. According to a report from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) updated in June, nominal wage growth in the private sector has remained at just 3.1 percent, despite historically low unemployment and significant tax cuts to corporations and businesses under the Trump administration. The EPI report says that workers will need to see average year-over-year wage growth of 3.5 to 4 percent before they actually start feeling the benefits of the economic recovery.

Although opponents of increasing the minimum wage routinely argue that low unemployment and a booming economy will naturally lead to significant wage growth, that prediction has yet to materialize despite national unemployment having dropped well under four percent. The argument goes that as the employment market tightens, employers will necessarily increase wages to attract new workers and keep current employees from taking better paying jobs. While wages have grown, as the EPI report explained, the growth has not yet been significant enough to substantially benefit workers overall.

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Director of National Economic Council Larry Kudlow smiles as President Donald Trump speaks with reporters during a meeting with automotive industries executives in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on May 11, 2018 in Washington, D.C. Alex Edelman-Pool/Getty

Last week, the House of Representatives, which is controlled by Democrats, voted to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25, the level it has been set at for over a decade, to $15 in stages over the next six years. However, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already said that the Senate will not be considering the legislation, meaning it is unlikely to move forward unless Democrats take control of the Senate in 2020. The vast majority of Republican lawmakers oppose the legislation – with only three voting in favor of it in the House. They argue that it will lead to substantial job loss nationwide.

Democrats conversely argue that workers making minimum wage are currently unable to cover all of their essential costs and often rely on debt or working two jobs just to get by. Progressives, such as Tlaib, have argued that $15 may not even be a high enough level for minimum wage workers to cover all their costs.

"By the way, when we started it, it should have been $15. Now I think it should be $20," Tlaib said at a Sunday event. "It should be $20 an hour — $18 to $20 an hour at this point."