Obama takes minimum wage pitch to Michigan
April 2nd, 2014
08:50 AM ET
5 months ago

Obama takes minimum wage pitch to Michigan

Updated 3:49 p.m. ET, 4/2/2014

Ann Arbor, Michigan (CNN) – Having declared his signature health care initiative a success - at least for now - President Barack Obama headed to Michigan Wednesday to push another top domestic priority, raising the federal minimum wage.

Speaking to a rowdy crowd at the University of Michigan, Obama used much of his remarks to lambast Republicans who oppose such a hike, saying it amounted to giving working-class Americans "the shaft."

"You would think this would be a no-brainer," Obama said of his proposal to raise the minimum hourly rate nearly three dollars, to $10.10 per hour.

Using Detroit industrial pioneer Henry Ford as an example, Obama said the country as a whole would gain if workers earned more than $7.25 an hour. A century ago Ford surprised and angered competitors when he doubled the pay of his autoworkers to $5 a day. The move was designed to help foster employee loyalty and tamp down high turnover in his plants.

"Raising the minimum wage is not going to solve all of our economic challenges," Obama said on Wednesday. "As Americans we understand that some people will earn more than others. But here's one thing we do believe - no one who's working full time should be raising their family in poverty."

Obama has made the wage pitch at events across the country over the past several months. Some states have already increased their minimum wages, and the President has encouraged business owners to voluntarily pay hourly employees at the higher rate.

"There are always going to be folks who do critical work – who bust their tails everyday – airport workers, restaurant workers, hospital workers, retail sales people who deserve an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work," he said. "They are doing necessary jobs, they should be able to make a living."

During his stop in Ann Arbor he dropped in for Reuben sandwiches at Zingerman's, the popular deli that pays workers above minimum wage.

As part of his effort Obama in January signed an executive action that mandated all workers on federal contracts be paid at least $10.10 an hour.

The chances of seeing Congress OK an increase to the federal minimum wage appear nonexistent, at least ahead of this November's midterm elections. Republicans are fiercely opposed, and even some Democrats are wary the plan could hurt their chances among business-minded voters.

The White House, however, has remained confident the issue will help Democrats among voters, since it allows them to paint Republicans as opposed to higher paychecks.

"There certainly is a good opportunity for Democratic candidates to talk about this on the stump," said Josh Earnest, the deputy White House press secretary, on Wednesday. "The values of raising the minimum wage align…with the vision the President has articulated."

The GOP, meanwhile, contends an increase would be a job killer. They point to a report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office showing Obama's proposed increase would cost the economy half a million jobs. (The report also indicated such a hike would help bring millions of Americans out of poverty.)

In Washington, moderate Republican Sen. Susan Collins said this week she was looking for lawmakers from both parties to support a wage increase – though she said she didn't support a hike to Obama's preferred rate.

In Michigan, the wage fight is being fought at the state level, with the group Raise Michigan pushing lawmakers to lift the state's $7.40 hourly minimum wage to Obama's preferred $10.10 per hour.

Raising the national minimum wage appears to be popular with many voters. According to a new Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday morning, half of registered voters nationwide said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who supports raising the minimum wage, with a quarter saying they'd be less likely to vote for that candidate, and one in four saying it wouldn't affect their vote.

At his event in Ann Arbor Wednesday, Obama was joined by Democratic Rep. Gary Peters, who's running in a very competitive race to try and keep the seat of retiring six-term Sen. Carl Levin in party hands.

Peters, who also appeared with Obama during a visit to East Lansing in February, is one of the few Democratic Senate hopefuls who has so far been willing to attend events with the President. Incumbents have cited Congressional responsibilities in Washington when missing Obama speeches in their home states.

Many were wary of aligning themselves with Obama's health law, a key component of which-the federal website–faltered at its launch. But the administration winded up exceeding its goal of enrolling 7 million Americans.

Obama joked Wednesday the total enrollment could fill Michigan's football stadium – dubbed the Big House – 65 times.

White House officials, speaking after the enrollment announcement this week, noted that no Democrat had yet defected on the law. The unexpected success in sign-ups would hurt Republicans, the officials reasoned, since voters who now have health insurance won't be receptive to candidates advocating the law's repeal.

Following his event on the campus of the University of Michigan, Obama heads to Chicago for two fundraising events for the Democratic National Committee.


Filed under: 2014 • Michigan • Minimum wage • President Obama
soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. Gurgyl

    Obama, this increase in minimum wage is long overdue. GOP idiots can not understand, as I was reading 260,000 graduates work for minimum wage. ACA is a Law. Republicans lost the bid. It is a success story for democrats. Take the advise from wise, educated. I have four university diplomas–I don't mislead. God bless, you, Obama.
    PS: raise will not hamper progress, nor cut employment either.

    April 2, 2014 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  2. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House

    All democrats need to be pushing this message and standing for their votes for the ACA. Grow some cojones!

    April 2, 2014 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  3. spike

    The big failure rests with both parties. They keep importing workers we don’t need, with the consequence of more Americans unemployed

    The supply demand equation:
    Last year 2,268,000 jobs were created.
    Legal immigrants allowed into the USA = 1,650,000
    No. of high school and college grads = 4,243,000

    Thats 5,893,000 job seekers competing for 2,268,000 jobs. That means that we created 3,625,000 welfare recipients last year. More immigration only equals more welfare recipients. Who wants more welfare recipients? If we are truly concerned about the nations unemployed, we need to quit importing labor that has no job prospects

    They need to put a temporary moratorium on all immigration, and enforcing the existing immigration laws until the supply/demand equation gets closer to balancing out. The temporary moratorium is a zero cost way to provide more job openings for americans. Who wouldn't want that?

    Passing the immigration reform bill will result in 12 years of American wage depression according to the CBO and a lot of folks in both parties want to do this. Why would they support wage depression when they talk out of the other side of their mouths about a low minimum wage. It’s a supply and demand thing. As long as they keep flooding the market with workers when there are no jobs for the workers, the workers wages will remain low. Their very policies are the things that are instigating the low wages.

    Look no further than the North Dakota oil patch. They cannot get enough workers for all of the jobs. Even Wal mart employees start at $17.00/hr. The supply demand equation works, and no government intervention in defining the minimum wage was necessary.

    More jobs for americans, less welfare recipients, and no 12 years of american wage depression. Thats a win win for all americans. Contact your representatives no matter their party affiliation. No more throwing the American people under the bus. They are supposed to represent US, not illegals. Put a moratorium on all immigration until the supply demand equation gets closer to where it should be.

    April 2, 2014 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  4. Rudy NYC

    "He's also signed an executive action that mandated all workers on federal contracts be paid at least $10.10 an hour."
    -----------------------------–
    The executive order only applies to new contracts going out to bid, not for existing contracts that are ongoing. In other words, it doesn't cost anything extra to taxpayers to implement. I would assume the change would come in the form of revised wage schedules in future bid packages.

    April 2, 2014 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  5. Fair is Fair

    When someone retires (as 300,000 do each month, so we're told), what happens to that job? If someone is hired to fill it, is it declared a "new job"? With 300,000 people retiring each month, exactly WHERE do these jobs go and HOW are they accounted for?

    April 2, 2014 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  6. smith

    It took about 20 years to raise the min. wage $3 and the dems want to that in about a 1/4 of that time. Supporters of this increase say this helps everyone and hurts no one. Think about it, somebody somewhere is going to take a hit and its not going to those evil corporate guys. If raising the min. wage in bundles didn`t affect anything and was totally positive we would have done ten times already.

    April 2, 2014 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  7. Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair wrote:

    When someone retires (as 300,000 do each month, so we're told), what happens to that job? If someone is hired to fill it, is it declared a "new job"? With 300,000 people retiring each month, exactly WHERE do these jobs go and HOW are they accounted for?
    -----–
    "At this point, what difference does it make?"

    A "new job" is a "new job". A "new hire" is a "new hire". See the difference?

    April 2, 2014 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  8. Gunderson

    Humm, Yes,
    Minimum Wage. Old Gunderson love it! It be nice work if you can get it. Of course working 29 Hours a week will allow you to Write, Paint, Take Dance Classes, and all sort wonderful things. Oh, and give generously to Charity! Can't wait!

    April 2, 2014 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  9. Fair is Fair

    Michigan, eh? Is it just a coincidence that Michigan is one of the seven democratic senate seats that Real Clear Politics is showing as flipping this November?

    April 2, 2014 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  10. sonny chapman

    If we could ever get past the Repub. mantra,"Raising Minimum Wage is a JOB KILLER", akin to the famous,"Two legs bad, Four legs good" mantra, then folks could read the SCIENCE/ACADEMIA. Reasonable increase in Minimum Wages HELPS our 70% Consumer Spending Driven Economy !!!!

    April 2, 2014 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  11. countingdown

    Quote from the article " Many were wary of aligning themselves with Obama's health law, which faltered at its launch but winded up exceeding its goal of enrolling 7 million Americans.

    White House officials, speaking after the enrollment announcement this week, noted that no Democrat had yet defected on the law. The unexpected success in sign-ups would hurt Republicans, the officials reasoned, since voters who now have health insurance won't be receptive to candidates advocating the law's repeal."

    All democrats should be begging the adminstration to release the actual numbers of who paid, because if the numbers are as bad as believed 2014/16 will be like Noah's flood washing over them. If the numbers are as presented, then the democrats don't have anything to worry about. All the lies to this point from this administration are bad enough, but an in your face lie won't go well with informed voters. Democrats may not be running away from obamacare but they certainly are avoiding the subject. The damage to democrats is already done. The only question remaining is how much.

    April 2, 2014 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  12. excuse my rant

    Fair is Fair
    When someone retires (as 300,000 do each month, so we're told), what happens to that job? If someone is hired to fill it, is it declared a "new job"? With 300,000 people retiring each month, exactly WHERE do these jobs go and HOW are they accounted for?
    ********************

    That bit of logic is exactly why the "job creators" are not job creators at all, merely wealth producers. Many times when someone is hired they already had a job previously and they are simply moving up the pay scale. If their previous job is not refilled there is no net gain in jobs. Instead it works it way back the job food chain until either a previous job is not filled or a previously unemployed person is hired. And what is the factor that decides all of this? DEMAND. Consumers are the true job creators. Not the mega corporations. Not small business owners. Not the government. Supply doesn't mean squat if there is no demand.

    April 2, 2014 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  13. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Good luck Mr. President! You're going to need it with all the wealthy Tea Partiers that hate the ground you walk on. Those people don't like anything more than looking down their noses at people with less than them.

    April 2, 2014 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  14. Rudy NYC

    smith wrote

    It took about 20 years to raise the min. wage $3 and the dems want to that in about a 1/4 of that time. Supporters of this increase say this helps everyone and hurts no one. Think about it, somebody somewhere is going to take a hit and its not going to those evil corporate guys. If raising the min. wage in bundles didn`t affect anything and was totally positive we would have done ten times already.
    -----------------–
    How cute. More willfully misleading information from the right wing. Smith is very conveniently omitting the facts about WHEN this time period of 20 years occurred. I'd be willing to bet that the U.S. economy did pretty well during that same 20 year period. BTW, we have already raised the minimum wage dozens of times, but Smith is talking about a time before it was done ten times. So, everything that Smith claims is true ... ... from a certain point of view.

    April 2, 2014 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  15. Gunderson

    Humm,
    And just think, Conservatives and Republicans want to shrink Government and have people do more for themselves. BUT, HARKEN MY FRIENDS, you have done it yourselves! Who would have thought you, yes you would invent the 29 hour work week yourselves! Usually it takes an Act of Congress! Lead on Feerless One!

    April 2, 2014 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  16. Name jk. Sfl. THE KOCH BROTHERS GOP STOOGES PARTY NEEDS to be VOTED OUT IN NOVEMBER !!!!

    The DO NOTHING congress is over paid, 174,000 a year to accomplish NOTHING, the GOP clowns, and they whine about giving YOU a raise to 10,10 an hour. That's what these GOP clowns should be making, if not lower!!!!

    April 2, 2014 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  17. Fair is Fair

    Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair wrote:

    When someone retires (as 300,000 do each month, so we're told), what happens to that job? If someone is hired to fill it, is it declared a "new job"? With 300,000 people retiring each month, exactly WHERE do these jobs go and HOW are they accounted for?
    -––
    "At this point, what difference does it make?"

    A "new job" is a "new job". A "new hire" is a "new hire". See the difference?
    ---------
    No... I guess I don't. 300,000 people no longer working every month due to retirement. On the surface it would seem that those positions need to be filled by someone – this "new hire" you speak of. That's 3.6 million "new hires" annually. So why isn't there a labor shortage instead of recorf-low labor participation rates?

    April 2, 2014 10:22 am at 10:22 am |