President Barack Obama stated, in his Jan. 28 State of the Union address, that he wants to raise the federal minimum wage – despite facing dim prospects of having congressional approval. The president is supporting the legislative initiative to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10, a figure that’s more appropriately adjusted for inflation.
“Tell Congress to make this happen,” Obama said to reporters at a Costco in Maryland one day after he outlined his plans to combat income inequality. “Give America a raise.”
Obama will need bipartisan backing from both the Republican-controlled House and the Democrat-controlled Senate to advance his agenda, however congressional aides representing officials from both parties have informed the media that it’s unlikely that the issue will be taken up in the foreseeable future.
Some Democrats contend that increasing minimum wage would allow employees to be more financially secure. In turn, employees would have more money for discretionary spending, which would stimulate the economy. Republicans, however, say that an increase in the minimum wage would result in employers hiring fewer people – and that would actually jeopardize low-wage workers.
The American people appear to be less divided than Congress on this issue. A Wall Street Journal/NBC poll from December revealed that 63% of respondents, consisting of a wide variety of political ideologies, supported a $10.10 minimum wage. The wage increase would serve as a stark contrast to states that have the lowest hourly wages in the nation, including Georgia ($5.15), Wyoming ($5.15) and Minnesota ($5.25).