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...we’ve got to build an economy that works for everybody, not just a fortunate few. We’ve got to restore opportunity for all – the notion that no matter who you are or how you started out, with hard work and responsibility, you can get ahead in America. The opportunity agenda I’ve laid out is built on more new jobs that pay good wages; better training for folks to fill those jobs; a smarter education for our kids; and making sure honest work is rewarded. And the action I took this week will reward hard work for more Americans.
Well, President Obama said last week he was going to use his pen and his phone, and given that he signed an executive order raising the minimum wage for federal contractors on Wednesday, he really meant this "year of action" messaging he's been pushing.

This week appears to be focused on Congress doing the same.

Right now, there’s a bill in Congress that would boost America’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. That’s easy to remember: ten-ten. And remember, the average worker who would get a raise if Congress acts is about 35 years old. Most lower-wage jobs are held by women. And raising the minimum wage wouldn’t just raise their wages – its effect would lift wages for about 28 million Americans. It would lift millions of Americans out of poverty, and help millions more work their way out of poverty – without requiring a single dollar in new taxes or spending. It will give more businesses more customers with more money to spend – and that means growing the economy for everyone.
And our job, he said, is to use those phones.
You deserve to know where the people who represent you stand on this. If they don’t support raising the federal minimum wage to ten-ten an hour, ask them “why not?” The opponents of raising folks’ wages have deployed the same old arguments for years, and time and again, they’ve been proven wrong. Let’s prove them wrong again, and give America a raise. Let’s make opportunity easier to come by for every American who’s willing to work for it.
To read the transcript in full, check below the fold or visit the White House website.

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
February 15, 2014

Hi, everybody. In this year of action, I said I’d do everything in my power to expand opportunity for more Americans. And this week, I took action to lift more workers’ wages by requiring federal contractors to pay their employees a fair wage of at least $10.10 an hour. These are workers who serve our troops’ meals, wash their dishes, care for our veterans – Americans who work hard and will get a raise as these contracts come up. This will be good for contractors, for taxpayers, and for America’s bottom line.

We know why this is important. Our economy has been growing for four years. Our businesses have created eight and a half million new jobs. But while those at the top are doing better than ever, average wages have barely budged. Too many Americans are working harder than ever just to get by, let alone get ahead. And that’s been true since long before the recession hit.

That’s why we’ve got to build an economy that works for everybody, not just a fortunate few. We’ve got to restore opportunity for all – the notion that no matter who you are or how you started out, with hard work and responsibility, you can get ahead in America. The opportunity agenda I’ve laid out is built on more new jobs that pay good wages; better training for folks to fill those jobs; a smarter education for our kids; and making sure honest work is rewarded. And the action I took this week will reward hard work for more Americans.

But to finish the job, Congress needs to act. In the year since I first asked Congress to raise the minimum wage, six states have passed laws to raise theirs. More states, cities, counties, and companies are taking steps to join them. An overwhelming majority of Americans support raising a minimum wage that’s worth about 20% less than when Ronald Reagan took office.

Right now, there’s a bill in Congress that would boost America’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. That’s easy to remember: ten-ten. And remember, the average worker who would get a raise if Congress acts is about 35 years old. Most lower-wage jobs are held by women. And raising the minimum wage wouldn’t just raise their wages – its effect would lift wages for about 28 million Americans. It would lift millions of Americans out of poverty, and help millions more work their way out of poverty – without requiring a single dollar in new taxes or spending. It will give more businesses more customers with more money to spend – and that means growing the economy for everyone.

You deserve to know where the people who represent you stand on this. If they don’t support raising the federal minimum wage to ten-ten an hour, ask them “why not?” The opponents of raising folks’ wages have deployed the same old arguments for years, and time and again, they’ve been proven wrong. Let’s prove them wrong again, and give America a raise. Let’s make opportunity easier to come by for every American who’s willing to work for it.

Thanks, and have a great weekend.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Who the hell listens to it? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wdrath, Liberal Thinking, boofdah

    I would doubt many people listen to this weekly address anymore.  It's a holdover from previous presidents.  With instant info on the internet and on cable tv, we do not need this weekly address anymore.  And, by the way, he has said these same words for weeks, in public, and it's been all over cable news and in his SOTU address...

    Ignorance is the curse of God; knowledge is the wing wherewith we fly to heaven. William Shakespeare

    by lutznancy on Sat Feb 15, 2014 at 07:05:18 AM PST

  •  Great message (3+ / 0-)

    anything that can be done is welcome news. Actions speak louder than words.

    A true craftsman will meticulously construct the apparatus of his own demise.

    by onionjim on Sat Feb 15, 2014 at 07:08:56 AM PST

    •  yes, that's why Obama's total inaction (6+ / 0-)

      on this issue for the first two years of his presidency, when he had Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress, will speak far louder than his pleasant words now.

      We were in the depths of the economic crisis at the beginning of Obama's presidency, it made total sense to raise the minimum wage and put more purchasing power in people's pockets, but they didn't do it. Because they didn't want to.

      That Obama is even making this modest proposal at all, rather than merely spouting platitudes about how the economy is doing well, means the administration's pretty desperate.

      They had hoped not to have to talk about bread-and-butter economic issues at all in this election. Knowing that the GOP would never attempt to play the populist, they felt free to ignore the needs of working people in favor of doing the bidding of Wall Street.

      Now they're having to exploit those economic issues, just to get that small edge.

      "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

      by limpidglass on Sat Feb 15, 2014 at 07:21:51 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The minimum wage was scheduled to rise in 2009. (4+ / 0-)

        So there was no reason (then) to reopen the issues. Also, given how high unemployment was, no one wanted to risk making the economy even weaker.

      •  There is great momentum to raise the min wage now. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        middleagedhousewife, reginahny

        I'm not so sure about 2009.

      •  Hmmm...what did Obama did the first two years of (5+ / 0-)

        his Presidency again? He saved the US economy from slipping into a second Great depression, part of which was through passing the The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which is still creating jobs even today.

        He passed The Affordable Healthcare Act, which has enabling tens of millions of people healthcare. He saved the automobile industry, which was responsible for saving hundreds of thousands of jobs....

        He advocated for equal pay for women, he instituted the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as part of the  Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which to date has refunded over three quarters of a billion dollars to consumers who fell victim to various violations of consumer financial protection laws....

        I know if you were President you could have done more more more! Because really, this has fallen way too short!

        I hope you run in 2016!

      •  Clueless comment (0+ / 0-)

        And I'm frankly amazed that anyone would rec it.

        As another respondent has already noted, the minimum wage was already scheduled to increase in 2009 from legislation that had been passed a couple years earlier (after the Dems took control of the House and Senate).  Pushing for another minimum wage increase on top of the one that was already scheduled would have gone nowhere.

        In addition, the president was dealing with trying to get a stimulus package passed, saving GM and Chrysler, and getting expanded access to healthcare for the American people.

        It's not like he was sitting on his rear doing nothing.

        Political Compass: -6.75, -3.08

        by TexasTom on Sat Feb 15, 2014 at 10:45:51 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  the president and every Democrat (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Liberal Thinking, stewarjt

    running for election this year, need to focus on increasing the minimum wage not only every single week, but every single day until November's election.

    This is a winning issue, and one which not only an overwhelming majority of Democrats support, but a majority of Republicans and independents do, too.

    The first words out of every Democrat's mouth from now until November should be...increasing the minimum wage...to keep reminding people exactly whose side Democrats are on and whose side Republicans are on.

    And the second thing out of their mouths should be...income inequality...and our need to fight against it...including extended unemployment benefits and a fair playing field.

    And then...increasing the minimum wage.

    If there is one thing that Democrats have in their arsenal to try to combat an otherwise difficult political environment this November, it is...fighting for greater income equality. If they don't make that their number one priority...they almost deserve to lose...the Senate and the House.

  •  CAPTALISM SHOULD BE ON SOCIETY’S TERMS (0+ / 0-)

    CAPTALISM SHOULD BE ON SOCIETY’S TERMS
    Babu G. Ranganathan

    Many in society have been taught to believe that the public has no right to tell corporations what to do with their money any more than a private citizen has the right to tell his neighbor what to do with the money he earns from a business or store. This is not a fair analogy.

    True enough that a private citizen doesn't have the right to tell his neighbor what to do with his money but the public does have the right to tell corporations what to do with their money. Why? Because corporations couldn't exist without very special and unique government help. Corporations are special legal entities that have unique rights, privileges, and protections given by government that ordinary citizens and business owners do not have. And, since the government in a democracy like ours comes from the people (the majority in society) the people have the right to determine how corporations act and how they spend their money. The majority in a democracy own the franchise of government!  

    Therefore, the public has a right to demand something from corporations in exchange for giving corporations the right to exist. Would I not have the right, even as a private citizen, to demand something from a business built on my property? The same logic applies to the relationship between the public (society) and corporations. Corporations cannot hide behind the specious argument of rugged individualism!

    Many in our society have been brainwashed to believe that an absolutely free market place with no government controls or regulations would automatically fix our nation's problems. Have we forgotten already that the Great Depression of the early 1930's was the direct result of a free market economy with no government control or regulation?

    Rugged individualism teaches that the individual has the right to benefit from social and economic interactions with society, but that society has no right to demand any benefit from the individual.

    However, if it is true that a person has a moral right to be a rugged individualist, looking out only for himself, then it also follows that individuals (plural), by mutual consent and agreement, have a moral right to look out for themselves. Such a moral right of individuals (plural) is the basis for majority rule and unions in our society.

    Certainly, if an individual is benefiting from commerce with the many individuals of society, then the many individuals of society have a right, by mutual agreement among themselves, to demand certain benefits from the individual, benefits such as decent wages, clean air, clean water, safe working conditions, safe products, etc.

    No one has absolute individual rights in society. Those who want absolute individual rights must live outside of society. Those who want to be part of society with the benefits of government and law must be willing to grant what the majority want, even if it's at their own expense.

    Yes, minorities have rights, but the majority has more rights.

    Absolute individualism is absolutely unfair. The majority has the right to tax an individual and collect money to build a park even if that individual doesn’t want the park and will never use the park. The majority has a right to tax an individual and use the money to provide welfare or help those who genuinely can’t help themselves in society.

    Self- proclaimed rugged individualists in society want all the benefits of what the majority has to provide - government, law, security, and protection - but they do not want to give up anything to the majority in exchange for these benefits. These so-called rugged individualists are the real leeches and parasites of society.

    The fact is there are no real rugged individualists in society!  

    If capitalism and social consciousness cannot coexist then how is it that modern industrialized nations such as Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and others can have a high degree of social consciousness and still be capitalistic with a thriving free enterprise.

    The rich are not paying their fair share of the taxes. Even billionaire Warren Buffet has said that his office secretary pays more in taxes in proportion to her income than he does.

    In fact, one of President Obama's ideas for reviving our economy is by the federal government spending money to repair the infrastructure in our country (roads, bridges, highways, etc.). Much of this money would come from taxing the wealthy and corporations and making them pay their fair share taxes.

    People can still become wealthy in a socialist society but not at the detrimental expense of others in society.

    Many of the basic rights, especially regarding safety in the work place, that we take for granted were not graciously given to society by the rich but won by the blood of bludgeoned workers and strikers in the early twentieth century.

    The Bible doesn't say that money is the root of all evil, but that "the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil." That love of money must be constrained in society or the worst aspects of capitalism will make a living hell for millions. Thank God, of course, that there are some capitalists who don't put money first or love money. God bless them!

    The Christian Scriptures have much to say against the rich and wealthy who obtain and maintain their wealth through the detriment of the rest of society (James 2: 6, 7; 5: 1-6).

    Read the author's Internet article:

    THE FAR LEFT AND RIGHTS OF THINGS

    The author, Babu G. Ranganathan, has his bachelor’s degree with concentrations in theology and biology and has been recognized for his writings on religion and science in the 24th edition of Marquis “Who’s Who in The East.”

  •  Give America a Raise! Great slogan. (4+ / 0-)

    And, although no one mentions it, that is taxable income.

    Higher wages, means more tax income. And that extra money, and the taxes that go along with it will come out of the pockets of the upper management folks, who otherwise have dodged paying their fair share of their own income taxes.

    "You don't have to be smart to laugh at fart jokes, but you have to be stupid not to." - Louis CK

    by New Jersey Boy on Sat Feb 15, 2014 at 07:29:09 AM PST

  •  Keep the pressure on those bastards. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    middleagedhousewife, reginahny
  •  A Rousing Call to Action (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    stewarjt

    The President is on the right track to back an increase in the minimum wage. At least that gets the topic of wages on the table.

    But I agree with the comment by limpidglass. This is a day late and a dollar short. He should have pushed this through in the early days of his first administration. Imagine how much better the economy would be doing if we'd pumped these billions of dollars into the working part of the economy at the start. We would have had six or seven years of higher wages flowing through the economy.

    If we're going to solve this problem, an increase in the minimum wage is a key part. That's why it has to be backed up with an international minimum wage, so that all this money doesn't just end up in another country. If you give someone an extra dollar right now, where does that dollar go when they spend it?

    Well, a bunch of it goes to the wealthy and a large part of it gets piled onto our balance of trade deficit. We have to staunch that bleeding or this will simply evaporate. That's why TPP is such a non-starter.

    The Republicans ought to jump on this. It looks to me like most of this money is going to pass right through the poor. But at least while they've got it, they won't be as starving. As long as it's the first step to fixing the problem, we're on the right path.

  •  Economist support increasing minimum wage (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    katesmom, reginahny, TexasTom

    Over 600 Economists Sign Letter In Support of $10.10 Minimum Wage

    Over 600 PhD economists have signed an open letter—initiated by Economic Policy Institute President Lawrence Mishel and Harvard University professor Lawrence Katz—to the president and Congress in support of the Harkin-Miller Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013. Signatories include 7 Nobel Prize winners and 8 former presidents of the American Economic Association.

    The letter urges lawmakers to immediately enact a three-step raise of 95 cents a year for three years, which would mean a minimum wage of $10.10 by 2016, and then index it to protect against inflation. This increase would mean that minimum-wage workers who work full time, full year would see a raise from their current salary of roughly $15,000 to roughly $21,000. The proposals would also raise the tipped minimum wage to 70 percent of the regular minimum wage.

    <...>

    http://www.epi.org/...

    Economist Statement on the Federal Minimum Wage

    Dear Mr. President, Speaker Boehner, Majority Leader Reid, Congressman Cantor, Senator McConnell, and Congresswoman Pelosi:

    July will mark five years since the federal minimum wage was last raised. We urge you to act now and enact a three-step raise of 95 cents a year for three years—which would mean a minimum wage of $10.10 by 2016—and then index it to protect against inflation. Senator Tom Harkin and Representative George Miller have introduced legislation to accomplish this. The increase to $10.10 would mean that minimum-wage workers who work full time, full year would see a raise from their current salary of roughly $15,000 to roughly $21,000. These proposals also usefully raise the tipped minimum wage to 70% of the regular minimum.

    This policy would directly provide higher wages for close to 17 million workers by 2016. Furthermore, another 11 million workers whose wages are just above the new minimum would likely see a wage increase through “spillover” effects, as employers adjust their internal wage ladders. The vast majority of employees who would benefit are adults in working families, disproportionately women, who work at least 20 hours a week and depend on these earnings to make ends meet. At a time when persistent high unemployment is putting enormous downward pressure on wages, such a minimum-wage increase would provide a much-needed boost to the earnings of low-wage workers.

    In recent years there have been important developments in the academic literature on the effect of increases in the minimum wage on employment, with the weight of evidence now showing that increases in the minimum wage have had little or no negative effect on the employment of minimum-wage workers, even during times of weakness in the labor market. Research suggests that a minimum-wage increase could have a small stimulative effect on the economy as low-wage workers spend their additional earnings, raising demand and job growth, and providing some help on the jobs front.

    Sincerely,

    <...>

    http://www.epi.org/...

  •  i agree that we should ask our leaders questions (0+ / 0-)

    here is my contribution to american question time:

    1. how much fossil fuel do you intend to allow big oil to extract, sell and burn?

    2. how much ghg emissions does that represent?

    3. what will be the climatic effects of those ghg emissions?

    once we get answers to those 3 questions the followup questions will be obvious

    yes to american question time!

  •  RE: Obama's Unequal Treatment (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    socialismorbarbarism, snoopydawg

    ok, raise the minimum raise mr obama but while you are so concerned with economic equity  how about an executive order to extend unemployment for Americans unemployed due to your HB-1 visa  approvals for white collar corporation (Microsoft IBM etc.) out of luck after decades of company loyalty, living,  ating, and breathing the corporation, in their 50's and ill, with pensions raided and casted out?  how about our U.S. military 'voluntary' army, paid a pittance for risky their lives for your wars while military contractors fighting along side for three to four times the wages?  How about an executive order ending subsidies for corporate 'farming' and providing economic incentives for true family farms in America?  Why not an executive order banning outright GMO food production and sales of same in the U.S.?

    don't make me laugh mr. obama.. you tout the greatness of your pacific free trade agreement choosing to turn your conscience from the terribly destructive impact on American workers and your duty to protect Public Health in the U.S. while you toss some crumbs out for those at the lowest rungs... minimum wage with no way out career mcdonald flippers...

    courage to deal with harsh economy of the oligarchs and to turn this sinking nation around like the phonenix it could be?
    courage to launch a WPA for the 21st program, rebuilding American infrastructure while simultaneously breathing new life and dignity to the U.S. unemployed of all ages.  Too daring for this lackluster 'leader'.

    never was America in need of leadership; no not CEOs or MBA grads or Harvard Law Review editors but powerful and visionary leaders whose loyalty is to our constitution and our people... our sun is too rapidly setting for the people of this nation to tolerate business as usual. But if they do, they deserve what they get.

    •  the sequester is a deadly weight (0+ / 0-)

      and it goes on for a decade

      and, as we now know for certain, there was never any need for the white house to propose it

      and even before the sequester, obama instituted a wage freeze for federal workers, a freeze that has continued throughout obama's presidency and has now been coupled with the devastating sequester cuts

      those are middle class folks getting hurt and getting hurt badly

      then there is the insane quest for cutting the social safety net, plus the zeal to export american jobs with even more egregious "free" trade deals, not to mention the betrayal of unions, all of that comprises an assault on the american middle class and poor

      to say that obama's populist rhetoric rings hollow is an understatement

  •  Health care for all, more money for people of (0+ / 0-)

    shockingly limited means.  

    My God, Obama is doing this.  

    Dear Mr. President,
    Take it easy, less than two years  of this. left.   And then you may exit and do something really important like family, friends and community.

    An Ever Faithful,
    But Very Demanding,
    Constituent

  •  Long time coming (0+ / 0-)

    Granted, this should have been done long ago, but at least there's a glimmer of hope this will get passed. With the GOP, the only light at the end of the tunnel is a train.

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