Obama: Time for Congress to Raise the Minimum Wage

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Feb. 22 2014 11:21 AM

Obama: Time for Congress to Raise the Minimum Wage

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President Obama called on Congress to "give America a raise"

Photo by Andrew Harrer-Pool/Getty Images

Saturday’s weekly addresses gave a brief glimpse of how each party will try to win over voters ahead of the midterm elections. First, President Obama doubled down on his call for a minimum wage hike, dedicating his weekly address to the issue for a second week in a row. How did Republicans respond? By harping on Obamacare.

Obama once again said that Congress needs to pass legislation to increase the national minimum wage to $10.10 from $7.25. “Because even though our economy is growing, and our businesses have created about eight and a half million new jobs over the past four years, average wages have barely budged,” Obama said. Raising the minimum wage was a key issue in Obama’s State of the Union address, recalls the Hill. Even though big business groups have come out against the minimum wage increase, even releasing an ad that claims it will kill jobs (see below), Obama praised the Gap for raising wages.

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“Raising Americans’ wages isn’t just a good deed,” Obama said, “it’s good business and good for our economy. It helps reduce turnover, it boosts productivity, and it gives folks some more money to spend at local businesses.”

The address came after a week in which the issue of increasing the minimum wage took center stage, particularly after the Congressional Budget Office came out with a report claiming that an increase to $10.10 would decrease employment by around 500,000 workers. On Friday, Obama met with Democratic governors, who expressed support for his efforts to hike the minimum wage, noting it would be particularly beneficial to women, reports Time.

Meanwhile, Republicans would rather continue talking about Obamacare. A freshman House Republican delivered the party's weekly address Saturday to say that the health care law is placing an “immoral burden” on future generations.

“President Obama’s policies spend too much money – they’ve irresponsibly added trillions of dollars to our national debt," Rep. Tom Cotton said, according to the Hill. "The debt slows economic growth today and it places an immoral burden on our kids and grandkids." This came a week after Rep. Tom Rooney used the GOP weekly address to “call attention to the devastating impact that Obamacare is having on seniors in Florida and across the country.”

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.