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President Barack Obama pressed Congress to raise the nation’s minimum wage, casting the pay hike as a potential boon for workers’ pocketbooks.
“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,” Obama said in a speech at Central Connecticut State University. “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.”
Obama was joined by several Democratic governors from New England, some of whom have acted recently to raise the minimum wage in their own states in the absence of action in Congress.
Raising the minimum wage is a cornerstone of Obama’s “opportunity” agenda this year, and he took executive action to raise the minimum wage for federal contractors already this year. But Republicans have mostly rejected acting to raise the minimum wage, casting it as a job-killing measure.
Of Republicans, Obama joked: “Maybe I should say I oppose raising the minimum wage. They'd be for it. It's possible.”
The president mainly sought to cast the possibility of raising the minimum wage as a move to boost many of the workers hit hardest by the most recent recession.
“There will always be airport workers, there are always going to be fast food workers, there are always going to be hospital workers, there are going to be retail salespeople, hospitality workers -- people who work their tails off every day,” he said. “They don't have anything flashy out there, and you know what, they're not expecting to get rich. But they do feel like that, if they're putting in back-breaking work every day, then at least at the end of the month they can pay their bills. They deserve an honest day's pay for an honest day's work.”