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Friday, October 28, 2016

By Christi Parsons, Tribune Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — Raising the minimum wage makes sense to anybody who has ever worked an hourly job, President Barack Obama said in a freewheeling and highly personal argument he debuted on Wednesday.

Speaking to a crowd in New Britain, Conn., Obama praised a local businessman who used to “flip burgers” and is now a vocal advocate for raising the minimum wage.

The old pay stub that the dairy owner carries around “looks like the paycheck I got when I was working at Baskin-Robbins,” the president said of the job he held when he was a teenager in Honolulu.

When an audience member called out that the idea is “just common sense,” Obama picked up the refrain, laughed, and repeated it over and over again.

“It’s just common sense!” he said, as the crowd howled. “That’s all it is! It’s just common sense! That’s all I’m saying.”

The seemingly off-the-cuff riff came as Obama delivered a message he has given time and again during the past two months. The nuts and bolts of the address were the same as before. He noted that he has ordered federal contractors to pay their employees $10.10 an hour and called on Congress to make that the standard throughout the country. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25.

Republicans were no more moved than before. Raising the wage could cause employers to lay off or decline to hire low-wage workers, Speaker John A. Boehner’s office replied, citing a recent Congressional Budget Office analysis.

“When folks are still struggling to find work in this economy, why would we make that any harder?” asked Brendan Buck, the spokesman for the Ohio Republican.

The White House frequently cites other facts from the CBO projections, including the estimate that the higher wage would increase earnings for 15 percent of the nation’s workforce.

Obama repeated his usual talking points Wednesday afternoon. But in the Central Connecticut State University gym, surrounded by New England governors, Obama was on a more emotional roll.

Republicans are so opposed to everything he does, he joked, that he’s thinking about taking a stand against the minimum wage to see if that will get them on board.

“Republicans don’t want to vote,” he said, making fun of one GOP argument he said he has heard — that it’s time to repeal the current minimum wage.

Doug Wade, former burger flipper and current president of Wade’s Dairy in Bridgeport, Conn., knows that doesn’t make sense, Obama said.

Wade, according to the president, writes opinion pieces and talks to elected officials about raising the standard of living for workers. Wade spoke at a public event in February in favor of wage increases and said his business has 48 employees who all earn more than $10.10 an hour, according to the Hartford Courant.

“He spent most of his life as a registered Republican,” Obama said. “This is not about politics. It’s about common sense.”

AFP Photo/Saul Loeb

  • Independent1

    The CBO projects that raising the min wage could cost 500,000 jobs, but past history has not born that out and CBO forecasts are often like whistling in the wind or about as accurate as the National Weather Service forecasting the weather today for 3/4/2015 – highly suspect.

    To add some background to the topic of this article, here’s a good portion of a recent article from the Huffington Post on raising the min wage:

    The effect of a minimum wage hike is one of the most hotly debated issues in economic research. Some argue that a boost in the wage floor would actually hurt low-wage workers because employers would be hesitant to hire if they had to pay their workers more. In the letter, the economists, including Joseph Stiglitz and Larry Summers, argue that the “weight” of the evidence indicates past minimum wage hikes haven’t hurt the job market.

    “Research suggests that a minimum-wage increase could have a small stimulative effect on the economy as low-wage workers spend their additional earnings, raising demand and job growth, and providing some help on the jobs front,” the letter reads.

    During the initial phase-in period of a $10.10 minimum wage, the U.S. economy would grow by $22 billion, according to a December analysis from EPI. The economic growth would result in the creation of 85,000 new jobs, the analysis concluded.

    In addition to benefitting the economy overall, a minimum wage increase would go a long way in helping the workers who rely on bottom-barrel wages to make ends meet. Fast food, retail and other low-wage workers have taken to the streets over the past several months to argue that their minimum wage incomes aren’t enough to live on. It takes a wage of $10.20 an hour to survive even in America’s cheapest county, according to a 2012 analysis from Wider Opportunities for Women.

    Raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour could lift about 5 million Americans out of poverty, according to a study released earlier this month by Arindrajit Dube, an economist at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

    $10.10 Minimum Wage Would Provide ‘Much-Needed’ Help, 75 Economists Say

  • disqus_ivSI3ByGmh

    Because it does make sense, that is why the GOP is opposed! Their masters, the Corporate bosses that lubricate their campaign apparatus, don’t want to have to deny themselves that fifth car they will only drive two times or that exclusive club membership they may never use for ten years or so. They want to have the excuse of high turnover to justify moving jobs to Asia, and not providing benefits.