Obama takes minimum wage tour north

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President Obama will head to Connecticut on Wednesday to push his proposal to hike the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, even as Democratic lawmakers admit the plan faces a steep climb in the Republican-controlled House.

Obama will speak at Central Connecticut State University ahead of a swing through Boston for a pair of fundraisers benefiting the Democratic National Committee. Democratic Govs. Dannel Malloy of Connecticut, Deval Patrick of Massachusetts, Peter Shumlin of Vermont and Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island are all expected to appear at the minimum wage event.

White House economic adviser Gene Sperling said Tuesday that Obama's plan was "just about economic common sense" and would boost the economy overall by increasing demand from the lowest-earning workers.

Connecticut is one of six states that have moved to raise the minimum wage since Obama called on Congress to up the $7.25 per hour rate earlier this year.

"Connecticut is leading the way," said Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.). "The governor of Connecticut moved. They acted on this effort."

Still, DeLauro and other Democrats admitted that prospects for the president's proposal were dim with Republican leaders in Congress voicing their opposition to the plan.

DeLauro said her hope "is that we could get some of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to join" a discharge petition to force a House vote on the bill. The rare legislative move would require around two dozen Republicans to defect.

Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-Conn.) said the legislation would pass if it came to a vote and called on House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to allow it to proceed.

"The Speaker is not just the Speaker for the House, he's the Speaker for the United States," she said. "He should call this."

Boehner has repeatedly voiced his objection to raising the minimum wage, arguing it would lead to unemployment. Last month, the Speaker's office highlighted a Congressional Budget Office report that found raising the wage to the president's proposed rate could cost half a million jobs.

"This report confirms what we’ve long known: While helping some, mandating higher wages has real costs, including fewer people working," Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck said. "With unemployment Americans’ top concern, our focus should be creating — not destroying — jobs for those who need them most.”

Rep. Mike Michaud (D-Maine) said Democrats "have to fight" for the wage increase, and doing so would make clear who was responsible for perceptions of a "do-nothing Congress."

"We're trying to do something, but there's a majority on the House side" that is preventing the bill, he said.

On Friday, Obama made clear he saw the issue as an electoral advantage during a speech at the Democratic National Committee's winter meeting.

"It is time to give America a raise or elect more Democrats who will do it," Obama said.

But Sperling said that, if Republicans were afraid the issue would become political fodder, there was an "easy solution."

"Pass it right now," he said. "That's really easy."