Obama to rally for minimum wage increase

Getty Images

President Obama will look to rally support for raising the federal minimum wage at a White House event on Wednesday, according to a source familiar with the schedule.

The president will appear alongside workers who are paid at or just above the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, and is expected to press Congress to raise that to $10.10.

Obama has made the populist initiative one of his major talking points following his State of the Union address late last month. In the speech, the president announced an executive order calling on all new federal contracts to pay workers at that higher rate.

ADVERTISEMENT
Following his address, the president went to a Costco in suburban Maryland — where an average employee makes $20.89 per hour — and said Congress needed "to catch up to the rest of the country" on the issue.

Obama said that "all our businesses work better when customers have more money to spend" and that better wages for low-income workers "increase productivity and reduce turnover."

“It will give businesses more customers with more money to spend,” Obama said. “I guarantee if workers have a little more money in their pocket, they’ll spend more money at Costco, and if Costco sees more customers, they’ll hire a few more folks.”

Organizing for Action, the political advocacy group borne from the president's reelection campaign, has also launched a national television campaign calling for a minimum wage hike.

Some Republican lawmakers, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), have opposed the push, arguing it could hurt growth.

"There's no question that the minimum wage increase, if not done in conjunction with some kind of incentives for the businesses not to lay off employees — are going to dramatically increase unemployment," McConnell told Fox News earlier this month. "I don't think in this jobless recovery, we ought to be doing things that creates fewer jobs. We ought to be doing things that create more jobs."

But some vulnerable Democrats have also been reluctant to embrace the idea. Sen Mark Pryor (Ark.), who is facing a tough reelection this fall, told Bloomberg News he did not support setting the wage at Obama's proposed level. 

“I know $10.10 still isn’t a whole lot of money, but I think it’s too much too fast,” Pryor said. "I'm not supportive of that." 

More in News

Obama’s Christmas at the beach

Read more »