President Barack Obama visited Connecticut Wednesday to renew his call for Congress to increase the federal minimum wage. Speaking at Central Connecticut State University, Obama laid out a four-part agenda "designed to help us restore that idea of opportunity for everybody for this generation."
The four parts included "more good jobs that pay good wages," training for skilled jobs, and access to education, because "no young person should be priced out of a higher education." But the capstone, to which Obama dedicated the bulk of his speech, was "making sure that if you are working hard, then you get ahead." Speaking directly to Republicans, Obama insisted:
As Americans, we understand that some folks are going to earn more than others. We don't resent success, we are thrilled with the opportunities that America affords ... but what we also believe is that nobody who works full-time should ever have to raise a family in poverty. That violates a basic sense of who we are. And that's why it's time to give America a raise.What he's calling for, in other words, is nowhere near radical. It's not even uncommon, as Obama made clear by citing the six states—Connecticut included—that have raised their minimum wages since Obama called on Congress to raise the federal minimum wage in his 2013 State of the Union address, and the many profitable companies that already pay higher wages, recognizing that "it's a smart way to boost productivity, reduce turnover."
So what's standing in the way?
This should not be that hard, you'd think, because nearly three in four Americans, about half of all Republicans, support raising the minimum wage. The problem is, Republicans in Congress oppose raising the minimum wage. Now, I don't know if that's just because I proposed it. Maybe I should say I oppose raising the minimum wage. They'd be for it, that's possible.Sadly, it's not that easy, but Republicans in Congress are definitely the barrier to giving millions of Americans a raise. So Obama closed his speech by doing the only thing he can do to move Congress on this: urging his listeners to pressure their members of Congress to vote for a minimum wage increase.