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New England Govs, Obama Team Up to Promote Minimum Wage Hike

by | Mar 2, 2014 4:30pm () Comments | Commenting has expired | Share
Posted to: The Economy, Election 2014, White House

CTNJ file photo A group of New England governors, including Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, are teaming up to prove that increasing the minimum wage as a region will have a positive impact on the economy.

In a White House conference call Sunday, two of the three New England governors who will join Malloy and President Barack Obama to promote an increase in the minimum wage at Central Connecticut State University on Wednesday discussed the benefits of increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

“The most damning statistic that I’ve heard of late is not just 55 percent of minimum wage earners are women — and that’s estimated to be even higher in Connecticut — but that 13 percent of the individuals who earn the minimum wage in the United States are 55 years or older,” Malloy said. “In fact, more people over the age of 55 earn the minimum wage than teenagers.”

Malloy was citing statistics from the Congressional Budget Office report released last month that also concluded an increase in the minimum wage would cost 500,000 Americans their jobs.

“What the president understands and what we understand is that this economic recovery is leaving too many middle class and working Americans behind,” Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin said. “The president has it absolutely right when he says if we can raise the minimum wage we can ensure that no one in our states or in our nation works 40 or 50 hour week and remains living in poverty, often on government assistance.”

Shumlin said during a meeting with Democratic governors at the White House last week that they discussed the value of “regions of governors working together to raise the minimum wage to help working Americans.”

He said there are states fearful of raising the minimum wage because other states around them might not.

“We have a real opportunity to do the right thing for our states,” Shumlin said. “The right thing for the middle class and working Americans, and to get this right as a region if we have enough governors participate.”

Shumlin said Vermont has a plan to increase its minimum wage to $10.10 an hour over the next three years. That’s similar to the legislation proposed in Connecticut, which would increase the minimum wage to that same level over the same period of time.

White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest, who was on the conference call Sunday with the governors, tried to paint an increase in the minimum wage as a bipartisan issue. He said the last time the minimum wage was increased was back in 2007 under former President George W. Bush.

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

Shumlin said raising the minimum wage is a policy choice that should be made on a bipartisan basis even though the reality is that’s not the case.

“I don’t think there’s an American who believes you should be working 40 to 50 hours a week and be living in poverty,” Shumlin said. “That does not meet anyone’s sense of justice or fairness.”

But Democrats both in Connecticut and nationally have begun to make a hike in the minimum wage, a campaign issue. The increasing partisan nature of the issue was highlighted last week with the exchange between Malloy and Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana.

“Republicans have been against this from the very get-go,” Malloy said. “Even back to last year’s discussion about trying to get any raise at all, so let’s be very clear it’s not Democrats who have made this a partisan issue, it’s Republicans.”

He said he thinks a group of Republicans “have wrongly painted themselves into a corner.” He said some of the Republicans in Congress voted for an increase in 2007 under a Republican president, but now are automatically against it because the president is a Democrat.

“Quite frankly, it’s not Democrats who are making this a partisan issue,” Malloy said.

Malloy has not announced yet whether he’s seeking re-election, but he’s expected to say he’s running after May 7 — the end of the legislative session.

Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, the independent-turned-Democrat who is not seeking re-election next year, said he doesn’t believe it’s a partisan issue. “I see this as a broader issue of standing up for the middle class and this is just one component of doing that,” he said.

With the Tea Party taking over the Republican Party in Congress “you see that the Republican Party is not there for the middle class,” he added.

Chafee, Shumlin, Malloy, and Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick will join Obama at CCSU Wednesday, March 5, for a rally to increase the minimum wage.

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(8) Archived Comments

posted by: dano860 | March 2, 2014  6:59pm

The Republicans need to pick their battles. This is a loser for them, sign on for $15.00 per hour.
Put everyone working 40 hours a week over the poverty level and paying taxes.
It should be applied to wait staff also, let the market sort it all out.
Don’t make this a partisan issue, we have bigger fish to fry.

posted by: Todd Peterson | March 2, 2014  9:10pm

Divert, distract, distort!
Our amateur President is just trying to keep the focus off of Obamacare and six and half million policy cancellations, premium increases and general chaos.  Regrettably it seems to be working.
Once again we have a job creation problem.  Millions have left the job market and the young voters who flocked to Dems are unemployed and underemployed. 
The real minimum wage is zero.  When people can’t enter the job market, re-enter after a job loss or make at least a lateral move out of a job that he or she is eager to get away from - that is real job-lock - minimum wage debates are play-acting by political non-leaders.  Regime change anyone?

posted by: Tim White 1 | March 2, 2014  10:26pm

Income inequality is a huge issue.  But focusing on the minimum wage is missing some big issues that could be addressed by President Obama:

1) The Federal Reserve prints money and gives it away to their W$ cronies.  It wasn’t just The Bailout.  It’s quantitative easing:  QE1, QE2 & QE3.  And it happened when Bernanke’s Fed loaned money to W$ and charged 0% interest, then Geithner’s Treasury borrowed that same money from W$ at 3% interest… and the US taxpayer got snookered for billions of dollars.  But not to worry, Geithner then left the Treasury and began working for W$.

2) The US Atty Gen Holder refuses to hold W$ titans accountable.  He’s spent years going after people smoking pot, but could never find the resources to prosecute the criminals on W$... and he couldn’t even find the staff after Obama used the Jan 2012 SOTU to promise accountability.

The President should address these two issues immediately.  And his failure to do so—despite his rhetoric to the contrary—is a reminder that all Governors are less influential—and less political—than the White House.

posted by: 17beachboy | March 3, 2014  9:04am

I tend to lean Republican/Conservative, but on this issue I could back an increase in the minimum wage IN EXCHANGE for a 5 year freeze on welfare benefit increases.  My fear is that after the minimum wage goes up, liberals will fight for an increase in welfare benefits as recipients will now be struggling due to the modest inflation that will accompany a minimum wage increase.  If welfare recipients realize that they could do better by going out and working, even if they start at minimum wage, maybe they would move from the welfare rolls to payrolls.

posted by: jim black | March 3, 2014  10:14am

Obama just want’s to distract from Obama care, IRS, Bengazi, also FAST and Furious. Not to mention his failed foreign policy on all fronts. And also the fact that his “laser focus” on jobs for the last five years was a joke. Now he wants to further his push for his vote buying dependency by having the business comunity pay for it. In it he finds Malloy as a little tool to advance it.

posted by: SocialButterfly | March 3, 2014  10:15am

Pres. Obama’s advisor’s have given him bad advice on the hourly wage increase—as it will not help the 10 million unemployed—only add to our unemployment numbers.  Obama is using the minimum wage ploy—to hide his high numbers of unemployed—“and Gov. Malloy is very willing the promote Obama’s snow job in Connecticut.”

posted by: joemanc | March 3, 2014  1:31pm

Christine - I wish you would ask one of the politicians, because what nobody ever talks about is automation. Just look at the checkout scanners at supermarkets. How many minimum wage jobs have they replaced already? Would an increase in the minimum wage lead to more automation and a further loss of jobs? You betcha. Look at Applebee’s - they are looking to automate ordering at their restaurants. Many European countries have youth unemployment rates in the 30-50% range, and I’m afraid we are heading in that direction.

posted by: Fisherman | March 3, 2014  9:50pm

Joemanc is on-target.  As a Controls & Automation Engineer, I can tell you that without a doubt FEWER JOBS WILL BE THE RESULT.  The wage of those who USED to do those jobs will be ZERO (how’s THAT for a minimum wage!). Would anyone really care if McDonalds fully automated its processes?  No, they would appreciate the constant food quality and low-price even more.  Remember… if there are fewer lower-level jobs, there are fewer chances for advancement into higher-paying jobs.

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