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Unlikely Billionaire Thinks $12 Minimum Wage Is Something To 'Consider Seriously'

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It's usually pretty easy to disagree with Peter Thiel. This time, not so much.

The billionaire PayPal co-founder and GOP donor, who often makes headlines for his contrarian views, has joined the growing ranks of those who are open to increasing the federal minimum wage, according to SFGate.

“In theory, I’m against it, because people should have the freedom to contract at whatever wage they’d like to have," the famously libertarian Thiel said in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle last week. "But in practice, I think the alternative to higher minimum wage is that people simply end up going on welfare.

"I actually think [a $12 minimum wage is] a very out-of-the-box idea — but it’s something one should consider seriously, given all the other distorted incentives that exist," Thiel added. (Watch the full video above.)

Thiel was specifically referring to a proposal by fellow conservative rich guy Rob Unz to raise California's minimum wage to $12 in 2016. Unz and now Thiel are part of a swelling group of unlikely supporters of a higher minimum wage, which includes people like Fox News host Bill O'Reilly and conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly.

Many liberals, including President Obama, are already on board with proposals to raise the minimum wage, which could boost the incomes of millions of Americans. On the other side, conservatives like to say that a wage hike would cost the economy too many jobs.

But more and more, conservatives such as Thiel are coming out in support of a minimum-wage increase because it could make people less reliant on government welfare programs. Each year, taxpayers shell out billions of dollars subsidizing the incomes of America's lowest-wage workers, who are forced to rely on food stamps and Medicaid to get by.

"Given how low the minimum wage is, and how generous the welfare benefits are, you have a marginal tax rate that’s on the order of 100 percent, and people are actually trapped in this sort of welfare state," Thiel says in the video.

While Unz's proposal to raise the minimum wage only applies to California, a higher federal minimum wage is also being debated. Last year, Obama got behind a Democrat-led push to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10. The proposal, which is currently stalled in Congress, could lift about 5 million Americans out of poverty, recent research found.