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Friday, March 22, 2019

By Anita Kumar and Lesley Clark, McClatchy Washington Bureau

NEW BRITAIN, Conn. — President Barack Obama — and the governors of four New England states — dined Wednesday at a college town eatery that pays its employees more than the minimum wage, as Obama pressed his election-year campaign to “give America a raise.”

“He knows what it’s like to work all his life and he understands that if people are working hard they shouldn’t be in poverty,” Obama said of the owner of the Cafe Beauregard.

Obama was joined by Govs. Dannel Malloy of Connecticut, Deval Patrick of Massachusetts, Lincoln Chaffee of Rhode Island and Peter Shumlin of Vermont. He noted that in the year since he’s been pushing to raise the federal minimum wage, six states have passed laws to raise theirs, including Connecticut.

From lunch, Obama took his case to Central Connecticut State University, urging Congress to raise the federal minimum wage for tens of millions hourly workers from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour by 2015.

“Too many Americans are working harder than ever just to keep up,” Obama said. “It is a central task for all of us to build an economy that works for everybody, not just for some.”
Obama said a number of employers, including Costco and most recently Gap, have boosted wages.

“It’s not bad business to do right by your workers, it’s good business,” he said, noting higher wages can help lower turnover, boost morale and increase productivity.

A number of business groups oppose raising the minimum wage, and critics point to a Congressional Budget Office report issued last month that said the most likely scenario under Obama’s proposal would be that almost 1 million people would be lifted out of poverty, but that another 500,000 could lose their jobs.

The legislation “might sound good in theory, but could cost as many as a million jobs,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said last week.

The minimum wage campaign is a key piece of the yearlong agenda Obama unveiled in his State of the Union address. Last month he signed an executive order boosting the minimum wage to $10.10 for employees involved in future government contracts.

But, he said, “to finish the job, Congress has to get on board.”

He said it shouldn’t “be that hard,” because “nearly three in four Americans” support raising the minimum wage. But Republicans in Congress are opposed.

“Maybe I should say I oppose raising the minimum wage,” Obama quipped to laughter. “They’d be for it, that’s possible.”

Workers who didn’t get a minimum-wage increase, Obama said, got the “equivalent of a $200 pay cut,” because their salaries aren’t keeping pace with inflation.

“That’s a month of groceries for the average minimum-wage worker,” he said. “That’s two months’ worth of electricity.”

He pushed back against criticism that raising pay would hurt the economy, saying workers would spend the money.

“Which means that suddenly, businesses have more customers, which means they make more profits, which means they can hire more workers,” he said. “Which means, you get a virtuous cycle. It’s common sense.”

Although many Democratic lawmakers support legislation to increase the minimum wage, it’s not been a priority for the Senate leadership. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has said there won’t be vote on the measure until late March or early April.

Polls do suggest there is widespread public support. A Pew Research Center survey conducted last month found strong support for increasing the minimum wage, with 73 percent of those surveyed in favor.

AFP Photo/Saul Loeb

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38 responses to “Obama Urges Congress: Give America A Raise”

  1. Independent1 says:

    Given that several multi-nationals could easily raise the min wage with minimal increases in most of their product line while helping lift some of their employees out of poverty – it seems to me raising the min wage is a win-win situation. Note too. that McDonald’s operates restraunts in Europe where the min wage is $12/hr and McDonald’s outlets in Europe are more profitable than they are in America.

    Below are my comments from a similar article on Obama pushing for an increase in the min wage for those who didn’t see them there.

    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.

    Here’s the link to the entire article in the Huffington Post:

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

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/14/economists-minimum-wage_n_4594922.html

    • disqus_ivSI3ByGmh says:

      Part of the reason for Micky D’s European success is low turnover rate among employees. Just like COSTCO – pay employees a decent wage, and they consider themselves part of a team, not just someone who comes in and does his time between punching in and punching out.

      • Independent1 says:

        I’m sure that helps a lot. I think too, it’s because with the European min wage being $12/hr, people eating at McDonald’s can afford to order the more expensive and profitable offerings like their combo meals, instead of only being able to afford to order mostly off of what was the less profitable dollar menu; including McDonald’s own employees.

        • Dominick Vila says:

          I have come to the conclusion that GOP opposition to raising the minimum wage has more to do with the distinct probability of such action being a contributing factor to economic growth than because of concerns over potential job losses. The GOP benefits from a stagnant economy, the last thing in the world they want going into a midterm election is a robust U.S. economy.

          • Independent1 says:

            Agree 100%. The last thing GOPers want to see is the economy picking up steam; unless of course they happen to win control of both houses and can make it look like they’re the ones responsible for an improving economy by having twisted Obama’s arm in some way.

          • Bud Thibodaux says:

            The economy is not picking up steam is because the man in the White House does not have a clue. Remember cash for clunkers? A total disaster.

          • Independent1 says:

            It’s not picking up steam?? Is that why we’ve recently exceeded more than 48 straight months of steady job growth with the jobs created in February exceeding analysts expectations by over 25,000 while creating more jobs overthe past 5 years than were created during Bush’s disasterous 8 years in office!! And the folks looking for jobs during the last week hit the lowest level in over 5 years! And our Maine retailer LL Bean just announcing that the past year has seen the most income in its history justifying it to create 4 new stores because the future looks so bright! And the profits recorded by America’s auto industry over the past year came in higher than at any time since the 1990s – far more than in any of the totally lack luster years during Bush’s failed 8 years!! Wake up clueless!! Take your head out of where it doesn’t belong.

            And by the way, your claim that the cash for clunkers program was a disaster is just one more of your blatant lies!!!!

          • charleo1 says:

            Since we didn’t slide into a full blown depression, the man in the White House, and his Party in Congress, must have done a few things right. And done them all, over the objections of the GOP Who have so far done, exactly zero, since bailing out the banks. It’s true! And got paid an excellent salary for doing nothing more complicated than what you’re doing here for free. How much gray matter does it take to conclude that, criticizing, obstructing, and passing dozens of pieces of anti abortion legislation, does not an economic solution for strengthening a weak economy make? Not anymore than blocking jobs bills, then sarcastically demanding the President tell them where the jobs are. As if they shouldn’t be held responsible for passing trade legislation that has sent millions of jobs out of the Country. Again, why are we paying them? Any idiot could do that. No, the facts are, if playing politics, and catering to the most extreme elements of their base, actually did stimulate the economy, Walmart would need to put thousands more $60.00 dollar a month Chinese on their payroll to keep up with demand. And, at least several hundred more part time employees here, to keep the shelves stocked, and the food stamp lines stretching around the corner.

          • Bud Thibodaux says:

            Raising the minimum wage will not bring economic growth. It will have just the opposite effect.

          • Dominick Vila says:

            Higher wages translate to higher spending, which is a critical component for economic growth and job creation.

          • Bud Thibodaux says:

            Get a life. Take a break and shut down. You are not contributing any thing on this forum.You are a lost goose in a fog. AHA AHA AHA.

          • Dominick Vila says:

            The depth of your intellect is truly astounding.

        • FredAppell says:

          We always hear from the “no” crowd that these types of jobs aren’t supposed to pay much because they are essentially starter jobs. That may have made sense 20 years ago, but many people have found themselves having to take these so-called useless jobs as their main source of income. The obstacles we’re facing aren’t dealing in logic, sometimes they even make me feel like a blithering idiot simply for trying to defend myself and my positions against their irrationality.

    • Bud Thibodaux says:

      You are dead wrong here.

  2. Sand_Cat says:

    Reid wants to wait until public support dies down.

    • Independent1 says:

      Actually, in an email I got from Chuck Schumer via the DailyKos, he says the vote is being delayed because of a bogus poll that was just released.
      Here’s from his email:

      We had the support. I was going to write to you today to tell you that a bill was being introduced in the Senate to heed President Obama’s call and raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

      Instead, I have to tell you that a bogus study on the law’s effects came out, and people are having second thoughts. We just delayed the bill a couple weeks so we can work on winning people back over — and that means right now is the most crucial time to show public support for increasing America’s minimum wage.

      I’m already working with supporters of Daily Kos and dozens of my colleagues and their supporters to take action — including Senators Tom Harkin, Barbara Boxer, Sherrod Brown, Kirsten Gillibrand, Heidi Heitkamp, Mazie Hirono, Patrick Leahy, Claire McCaskill, Jeff Merkley, Jack Reed, Jeanne Shaheen, Tom Udall, Sheldon Whitehouse, and Ron Wyden. But we need as big a group of supporters as possible to show the momentum for giving America a raise.

      • Sand_Cat says:

        I’m sure Harry Reid is a very nice man – as many of the Dems in Congress are – but I have to say those in the Senate have really let us – and the president – down on too many occasions to count. How many times did they fall for gentlemen’s agreements with the non-gentlemen of the GOP over the filibuster and other issues, just to cite one example.

        • Independent1 says:

          I understand where you’re coming from; there have been numerous times it’s really troubled me that the Dems haven’t stood together to override GOP votes. There are too many wimpy Democrats currently in Congress; legislators that have absolutely no backbone and are more concerned about being re-elected than doing what’s right for the country..

        • Independent1 says:

          There’s another problem – there aren’t enough legislators who understand that their constituents don’t always get things right. These legislators will quite often vote the way their constitutents want, forgetting that their constituents may not have all the information and therefore are wanting them to vote in the wrong way; and they do vote in what is quite obviously the wrong way for not only the party but also the country.

        • Bud Thibodaux says:

          Harry Reid is nothing more then a little fart.

        • Bud Thibodaux says:

          You my friend can continue playing in your litter box.

      • Bud Thibodaux says:

        It will not pass.

      • Bud Thibodaux says:

        If you’re dealing with the likes of Barbara Boxer you are backing up.

      • Bud Thibodaux says:

        Lies nothing but lies, the Libthurds will loose the senate n the little weasel Harry Reid will go back to Vegas where he belongs. FYI and goodby

    • charleo1 says:

      Too funny!

  3. Daniel Jones says:

    The economy IS the flow of money.

    Preventing the flow of money means you are killing the economy.

    How does Harry Potter fanfiction put it? “Money does no good just sitting in a vault.” Or, in the prerecorded words of Marcus Kincaid in Borderlands, “Your cash ain’t worth a thing if you don’t spend it.”

  4. charleo1 says:

    The idea that the economy from time to time, needs wage support. Is but
    another example where the GOP for no discernible reason, has decided to turn settled economic policy, with a proven track record of success, into some radical Leftist agenda. I say for no discernible reason, other than for the purpose of having the discussion on their terms. Which has proven useful in obstructing remedies for bolstering, and growing the economy. Remedies, that have worked in the past. Indeed that they have supported in the past. But now deem unacceptable, without a basis they are willing to fully explain. Or, explain in any fact based, fashion. Senator MCConnell claims the move to a higher minimum wage will cost 1 million jobs. By what authority, or study, does he make this claim? What dynamic, for example, in this economy has so fundamentally changed, from the last economy, that gained jobs in the wake of a wage increase? That this time, would be such an inhibitor of job growth. And, on the scale of 1 million jobs! About the number being lost per month, at the depth of the deepest recession in a lifetime. The GOP has suffered, or I should say the Country has suffered with the Republican Party’s false assumption, that since they are no longer in complete, and unchallenged control, they do not share any of the responsibility for reestablishing the health of the economy. That well, if things don’t pick up, and jobs are not created in sufficient numbers, or at sufficient pay, we are under no obligation to
    support those governmental initiatives, that could, or even most likely
    would, improve the general economy. No, we’re basically just going to
    wait the American people out. When they’ve decided nothing is going to
    be done. That we’ve proven we can, and, more important, we will, make sure the Country is going to remain on square one, as long as we’re the minority. The people will eventually come around, and put us back in charge. The Democrats will go along, as long as a few scraps are included for poor, and working classes. In the usually skewed, high end giveaways, and subsidies, to our corporate, and wealthy constituencies. But, a sense of normalcy will return. Gone will be the talk of offsets, for disaster victims, or Veterans, Even such things as the public debt itself will cease to be an issue. No longer will the public need to worry about a default being intentionally caused, ruining retirement plans, and college accounts. The Government will remain open, minus any stress causing brinkmanship. Closed services, closed memorials, and parks, or missed payrolls, and endless inquiries, and hearings into Benghazi, will all be a thing of the past. As we’ve always said, we want our County back. And, we’ll not stop until we get it. So, just vote for a Republican. We insist.

  5. Independent1 says:

    Here’s another little factoid from the DailyKos that should help burst the GOP’s bubble about increasing the min wage causing a loss of jobs.

    The Highest Minimum-Wage State – Washington – Beats U.S. Job Growth (Bloomberg)

    Victoria Stilwell, Peter Robison, and William Selway report that Washington hasn’t just shown higher job growth – it also has lower poverty rates, and the supposedly vulnerable service industry is growing.

    • Bud Thibodaux says:

      Only out of touch loons would care about the DailyKos.

      • Independent1 says:

        As I told you before clueless – you’re comments are nothing but pure nonsense until you can prove to me that something in the DailyKos is a lie or some kind of distortion.

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