If it's Saturday, it's time for Obama to talk up the minimum wage

WASHINGTON Sat Apr 26, 2014 6:28am EDT

U.S. President Barack Obama waves before boarding Air Force One at Osan Air Base, as he leaves South Korea for Malaysia, in Pyeongtaek April 26, 2014. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

U.S. President Barack Obama waves before boarding Air Force One at Osan Air Base, as he leaves South Korea for Malaysia, in Pyeongtaek April 26, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji

Related Topics

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - For the fifth Saturday this year, the White House used the president's weekly address to exhort Republicans to support an increase in the minimum wage, a key part of President Barack Obama's voter-friendly economic agenda aimed at keeping Democrats in control of the U.S. Senate.

Obama has been pushing Congress to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, up from the current level of $7.25, a move that would lift wages for almost 28 million people and is supported by more than 70 percent of Americans.

"While not all of us always see eye-to-eye politically, one thing we overwhelmingly agree on is that nobody who works full-time should ever have to live in poverty," Obama said in his address, which airs on radio stations and is posted online.

The measure is unlikely to pass Congress. Republicans argue it would kill jobs, pointing to a non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimate that it would cost about 500,000 people their jobs even as it lifted 900,000 people out of poverty.

Senate Democrats are expected to bring the measure up for a vote next week to try to rally support among voters and get them excited ahead of November midterm elections.

Republicans are expected to keep their majority in the House of Representatives after the election, and also could take control of the Senate if they pick up six seats.

That would make it hard for Obama to achieve his goals in his final two years in office. So he has pushed Democrats to work hard to get out the vote, and has talked up populist economic measures.

Raising the minimum wage has been Obama's most frequent theme in the Saturday addresses this year. He spoke about it on February 15 and 22, and on March 8. On March 29, Vice President Joe Biden stood in for Obama for the address, and also used the time to talk about raising the minimum wage.

Obama has also spoken about the issue around the country, buying sweaters at a Gap store to draw attention to the company's plan to raise the minimum wage for its workers and praising governors in states such as Connecticut who have passed their own minimum wage raises.

In this week's address, Obama described a New York City restaurant owner who was inspired to raise wages for her employees by the end of the year to at least $10 per hour.

He also panned Oklahoma governor Mary Fallin, a Republican, for signing a law stopping cities in the state from setting their own minimum wages.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (26)
Jaay wrote:
All these reports, studies and data kept coming out, but the end result is that the wealthy, the privileged class, keep getting more. The Fed (Public Enemy No. 1) keeps saying that inflation doesn’t exist. Yet, ask anyone about their cable bills, their food and gas bills, their bank fees, their rents, their real estate taxes, etc. and they are all going up. The Congressional Research Service wrote a report last fall that proved tax cuts do NOT create jobs, but conservative Republican thugs would have none of that. They forced the CRS to retract its report, and the endless compromising Democrats let it happen.
Let Obama talk up raising wages. They need to be raise and a lot more than they minimum wage increases that are being discussed.
Republicans and the conservative vote based are amoral and have always been that way. Their agenda now spun for more than 4 decades has helped no one but the rich, racists, bigots, the Christian right.
If not Obama, who? If not now, when?

Apr 26, 2014 7:49am EDT  --  Report as abuse
4825 wrote:
Yep, it is vote buying day for Obama. More of the liberal democrat divide and conquer politics. This was not an issue for the democrat party until it became an election year. Such BS and most see through the hype this administration puts out. The Obama administration has been good at dividing the country, spending our country into massive debt, and slipping in new taxes on the middle class of the country. The democrats do not understand economics and that is why we continue to see employment at less than full employment and an anemic economy at best. It will not change for the better until we sweep the liberal progressive democrats from office in Washington.

Apr 26, 2014 9:00am EDT  --  Report as abuse
unionwv wrote:
Another Saturday … same old speech … ho, hum …

Apr 26, 2014 9:10am EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.