On the road again to tout raising the federal minimum wage, President Barack Obama questioned if Congressional Republicans opposed an increase from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour only because he backed it.
US President Barack Obama looks over the lunch menu at Cafe Beauregard in New Britain, Connecticut, March 5, 2014, alongside Connecticut Governor Daniel Malloy (L). AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
“This should not be that hard, you’d think because nearly three in four Americans – about half of all Republicans – support raising the minimum wage,” Obama said. “The problem is Republicans in Congress oppose raising the minimum wage. Now I don’t know if that’s just because I proposed it. Maybe I should say I oppose raising the minimum wage. They’d be for it. That’s possible.”
Obama spoke Wednesday on the campus of Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, Conn., at an event to praise a pact among New England states to increase the wages.
Obama was joined on the stage by Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, all Democrats, and Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, an independent.
“They’ve formed a regional coalition to raise the minimum wage,” Obama said. “If they succeed in their effort, New England will have some of the highest minimum wages in the country. They’re not stopping there. These four governors are here in support of raising America’s minimum wage, the federal minimum wage, to $10.10 an hour.”
Obama has advocated a wage hike in his last two State of the Union speeches, but Congress has not acted. Republicans point to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office analysis that states increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour would cost about 500,000 jobs.
“A year ago, I asked Congress to raise the minimum wage – the federal minimum wage,” Obama said. “Since then, six states have passed laws to raise theirs, including right here in Connecticut,” Obama said. “On Jan. 1, tens of thousands of folks across this state got a raise, and Gov. Malloy is working to lift their wages even higher. Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Washington state, other states, counties, cities across the country are working to raise their minimum wage as we speak.”