[February 25, 2014]WASHINGTON (Reuters) — Democratic
and Republican state governors emerged from talks with President Barack
Obama on Monday in a civil mood — until the topic moved to raising the
Two governors traded sharp partisan blows on the subject, with
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, a Republican, accusing Obama of
focusing on raising the minimum wage at the expense of creating new
"What I worry about is that this president, the White House, seems
to be waving the white flag of surrender," said Jindal, a potential
2016 Republican presidential candidate, who was at an annual
conference of governors in Washington.
"The Obama economy is now the minimum wage economy. I think we can
do better than that," Jindal told reporters outside the White House
meeting, arguing Obama should build the Keystone XL crude oil
pipeline and do more to spur oil and gas jobs.
Obama wants to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour from the
current $7.25. Polls show three quarters of Americans favor the
plan, and Obama has said Republicans are out of touch on the issue.
Republicans argue the measure would hurt the economy, citing a
Congressional Budget Office study that showed it would lead to the
loss of about half a million jobs by late 2016, even as it lifts
almost a million people out of poverty.
Jindal's jab drew a counterattack from Connecticut Governor Dan
Malloy, a Democrat.
"Just one second. Until a few moments ago, we were going down a
pretty cooperative road," Malloy said, noting his state is working
on legislation that would raise its minimum wage to $10.10 from the
current level of $8.70.
"I don't know what the heck was a reference to white flag when it
comes to people making $404 a week. That's the most insane statement
I've ever heard," he told reporters, drawing a rebuke of "Now, now,"
from Republican Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, the chair of the
National Governors Association.
Malloy added: "You just heard what I think ended up being probably
the most partisan statement that we've had all weekend."
White House spokesman Jay Carney, speaking to reporters after the
exchange, defended Obama's initiative.
"The president's trying to create a national economy where the
minimum wage is $10.10 an hour. Perhaps Governor Jindal prefers a
Governor Jindal economy of $7.25 an hour, but the president
certainly doesn't," Carney said.
(Reporting by Roberta Rampton; editing by Mohammad Zargham)