Obama to stump for higher minimum wage

President Obama will appear with four Democratic governors from New England on Wednesday in Connecticut, as he presses his uphill fight with Congress to approve an increase in the federal minimum wage.

Obama’s visit to the Nutmeg State will come a day after he releases his 2015 budget proposal, which will call for increased spending on manufacturing and early childhood education, in addition to the minimum wage hike to $10.10 an hour.

Three of the governors, Dannel Malloy (Conn.), Peter Shumlin (Vt.) and Lincoln Chafee (R.I.), touted their efforts to bring state minimum wages in line with Obama’s request during a conference call on Sunday organized by the White House.

“It’s imperative that we act on this together,” Chafee said. The fourth governor who will appear with Obama Wednesday at Central Connecticut State University is Deval Patrick (D) of Massachusetts.

Noting that governors in both parties had lost confidence in Congress’s ability to act, Chafee and Shumlin said there was talk at a White House meeting last week of states acting in concert to raise the minimum wage. In the past, some states have been reluctant to act out of fear that businesses would move to neighboring states where the minimum wage was lower.

In Connecticut, Malloy has called for raising the state minimum wage to $10.10 by 2017, and in Vermont, which already has the third-highest minimum wage in the nation, Shumlin is pushing for a similar target. The Vermont minimum wage this year is $8.73. Connecticut’s is $8.70, increasing to $9 an hour next year.

Obama’s push faces little chance of passage in the Republican-led House, where Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has cited his previous career as a barkeep in staunchly opposing minimum wage increases as bad for small businesses.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest noted on the call that the last increase in the federal minimum wage, which now stands at $7.25 an hour, was signed by Republican President George W. Bush in 2007.

“There clearly has been a history of bipartisan support for raising the minimum wage in the past, and there should be strong bipartisan support for it now,” Earnest said.

The president’s campaign took a hit last month, when the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office issued a report finding that raising the minimum wage to $10.10 would cost half a million jobs, although the study also found that about 16.5 million people would see higher earnings.

Malloy disputed the CBO report, saying, “It’s possible CBO made a mistake.” But he and Earnest cited other studies showing the policy would have a more beneficial economic impact.