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POLITICS: PennAve

Obama takes minimum wage push to Connecticut

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Politics,White House,Barack Obama,Connecticut,PennAve,Economy,Budgets and Deficits,Meghashyam Mali,Minimum Wage

President Obama on Wednesday took his push for raising the federal minimum wage outside the beltway, highlighting efforts by state and business leaders as he urged Congress to act.

At an event at Central Connecticut State University, Obama highlighted New England governors who are raising state minimum wages for workers and hope to convince Capitol Hill to do the same.

“A year ago I asked Congress to raise the minimum wage. Since that time, six states have passed laws to raise theirs, including right here in Connecticut,” said Obama.

Obama was joined by Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy and all five of the state’s congressional lawmakers, as well as Govs. Lincoln Chafee, D-R.I., Deval Patrick, D-Mass., and Peter Shumlin, D-Vt. The governors are working together to raise the minimum wage in New England.

“If they succeed in their efforts, New England will have some of the highest minimum wages in the country,” Obama said. “And they're not stopping there. These four governors are here in support of raising America's minimum wage, the federal minimum wage, to $10.10 an hour.”

The event was the latest in a series that have taken Obama around the country to push for a wage increase.

Democrats believe they have a potent issue ahead of November’s midterm elections, with polls showing a majority of Americans favor an increase.

But the GOP-controlled House has ignored calls to take up legislation, with conservatives saying that raising the wage would hurt small business owners and weaken job growth.

A report from the Congressional Budget Office said that raising the minimum wage could lift 900,000 Americans out of poverty, but could also cost 500,000 jobs.

House Democrats, though, hope to use a discharge petition to force a vote in their chamber on the issue. Although the effort is unlikely to succeed, Democrats believe it will help them win voters in November.

The president is calling on Congress to raise the minimum wage from its current $7.25 to $10.10 an hour.

Obama has vowed to make 2014 a “year of action” on his economic priorities, pledging to fight income inequality and take steps to help the middle class.

He has taken a number of executive actions this year to further his agenda, including signing an order raising the minimum wage for new federal contract workers.

Obama said raising the minimum wage was “not just a job for elected leaders” and sought to enlist business owners in his push.

The president said those companies that raised their wages did “great.”

“Their stocks do great. They are highly profitable. It's not bad business to do right by your workers. It's good business. It's good business,” said Obama.

Obama praised Gap Inc. when the clothing retailer said they would raise wages for their workers. He also visited a Costco store in suburban Maryland to highlight the company’s employment practices.

But he added Wednesday that to finish the job, “Congress has to get on board.”

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