Obama to Press Minimum Wage — 2014 Income Agenda Unfolding

Photograph by Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg

Fast-food workers and supporters organized by the Service Employees International Union protest outside of a Burger King Worldwide Inc. restaurant in Los Angeles on Aug. 29, 2013.

President Barack Obama will make a case for raising the federal minimum wage in his State of the Union address, the White House says.

During his two-week Hawaiian vacation, the president made phone calls to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Sen. Dean Heller, the Democratic and Republican senators from Nevada backing an extension of unemployment benefits expiring for 1.3 million Americans, according to Gene Sperling, director of the White House’s National Economic Council. Reid is pressing for a Senate vote on that as soon as today, though its outlook is dim — and should it pass, House Republicans stand in the way of the extension.

The president will make the case for raising the $7.25 an hour federal minimum wage in his Jan. 28 address to a joint session of Congress, Sperling said today.

The move comes as the Democratic Party focuses on incoming inequality in the election-year ahead, as Bloomberg’s Heidi Przybyla reports today:

“Democrats may stand a better chance of winning the unemployment insurance debate than they do a minimum wage increase, which Republicans say could hamper the ability of young Americans in particular to secure employment in a down economy. Iowa Sen.Tom Harkin, a Democrat, is sponsoring a bill to raise it to $10.10 an hour from $7.25, a level put in place in 2009.

Arizona Rep. Matt Salmon, a Republican, says the bill would hurt people 18 to 28 years old who suffer the highest levels of unemployment. “History has shown us that when the minimum wage rises, those companies that are paying minimum-wage jobs end up laying people off and they end up hiring less people,” he said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” program.

The president has found some hope for the cause of raising the minimum wage in the moves that many states have taken to set the floor higher than the federal government’s, as Bloomberg’s Phil Mattingly has reported.

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