President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner are already setting up a battle over over the President’s call to increase the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour, perhaps the most controversial new proposal of his State of the Union address.In a speech today in Asheville, N.C., Obama promoted the plan, which would hike the minimum wage by $1.75 an hour.
“If you work full time, you shouldn’t be in poverty,” Obama said.
But early Republican reaction indicates that Obama could be in for a long and possibly futile fight. In television interviews this morning, Sen. Marco Rubio rejected Obama’s call. And in a press conference of GOP House leaders, Boehner flatly dismissed the notion that a minimum-wage increase would do anything to spur growth.
“When you raise the price of employment, guess what happens? You get less of it,” Boehner said, telling reporters that he’s been in the middle of minimum-wage fights for parts of the past 28 years.
“What happens when you take away the first couple of rungs on the economic ladder — you make it harder for people to get on the ladder. Our goal is to get people on the ladder and help them climb that ladder so they can live the American dream.”
There hasn’t been much recent polling on the topic, but past surveys have shown that the idea of raising the minimum wage is popular. A 2010 Public Research Religion Institute survey found that two-thirds of Americans supported a hike.
There was a significant partisan gap in support, especially among those who view raising the minimum wage as a priority. According to a 2007 Pew Research poll, only 28 per cent of Republicans saw it as a “top priority,” compared with 71 per cent of Democrats.
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