Obama pushes wage hike as 'right thing to do'

President Obama assailed Republicans in Congress for opposing a minimum wage hike, as lawmakers return to Washington next week after a two-week recess.

In his weekly address on Saturday, the president highlighted two restaurant owners who have chosen to raise their employees’ salaries to $10 per hour, which is both “the right thing to do” and “good business sense,” Obama said.

“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,” he said. 

“That’s why nearly three in four Americans support raising the minimum wage. The problem is, Republicans in Congress don’t support raising the minimum wage.  Some even want to get rid of it entirely.”

Since his State of the Union address earlier this year, Obama has been pressing Congress to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour, a level that supporters say would help struggling families pay their bills.

The president has tried to act unilaterally through an executive order calling for employees on new federal contracts to be paid at least $10.10 per hour, but he said that it’s time for Congress to step in.

“If a Republican in Congress represents you, tell him or her it’s time to give the politics a rest for a while and do something to help working Americans,” he said in the address. “It’s time to give America a raise.”

As an example of Republican opposition to a minimum wage hike, he pointed out Oklahoma’s recent decision to prohibit cities from establishing their own minimum wage. The law, signed by Gov. Mary Fallin (R) this month, also prevents municipal governments from requiring workers receive a number of sick or vacation days. 

On Friday, the White House also rolled out an interactive map showing how people would be affected if the minimum wage were hiked up to $10.10 per hour. The site shows how many people would have their paycheck go up and what that would mean in terms of extra tanks of gas, weeks of groceries and months of rent.

“Raising the minimum wage nationwide will increase earnings for millions of workers, and boost the bottom lines of businesses across the country,” the White House said.