Obama will appear on Wednesday in New Bristol, Connecticut
alongside four New England governors to make the case, the White
House said. The president wants to increase the minimum wage to
$10.10 an hour from $7.25, where it has been since 2009.
The president will make the pitch a day after presenting his federal
government budget proposal for fiscal year 2015. His budget is
expected to emphasize programs aimed at speeding economic growth and
creating jobs, but is not likely to be enacted in a divided
Congress must act to raise the wage floor, but House Republicans
have been reluctant to do so, saying it would hurt employers and
lead to job cutbacks. Even so, Obama and Democrats see the issue as
a way to draw a contrast between their party and Republicans in an
Partisan divisions were on display at the White House last week,
when Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, a Republican, said after a
meeting with Obama that raising the minimum was "waving the white
flag of surrender" in the face of a persistently high unemployment
Governor Dannel Malloy of Connecticut shot back, calling Jindal's
Malloy on Sunday called Jindal's remark a "cheap shot" and said it
illustrated how Republicans want to score points with their
followers simply by opposing the president.
"In the past we've seen wage increases under Republican
administrations," he said on a conference call with reporters. "Now,
because a Democratic president is talking about it, they're
automatically against it."
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The president's efforts to win support in Congress for the increase
were set back earlier this month when the non-partisan Congressional
Budget Office said that increasing the pay floor could lead to the
loss of 500,000 jobs as employers raise prices for goods and
services and cut back staff.
But Malloy said Congress should feel pressure to keep low-wage
workers from living in poverty. A wage raise would be a shot in the
arm for the sluggish economy because it would give people more money
"What we are talking about is bringing a level of relief to millions
upon millions of people in the country," he said.
Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin, a Democrat, said regional solidarity
behind raising the minimum was important.
"So often we hear states fearful of raising the minimum wage because
other states around them might not," he said.
Both Connecticut and Vermont have higher minimum wages than the
federal minimum. Connecticut's floor is $8.25 an hour and Vermont's
(Reporting By Mark Felsenthal; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)
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