Cole on Minimum Wage: Let’s Make a Deal


Photograph by Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

Rep. Tom Cole

A top ally of House Speaker John Boehner says that if President Barack Obama wants to win an increase in the federal minimum wage, he ought to consider some sweeteners — such as the Keystone pipeline.

“Would I look at a minimum wage increase if I thought there were other things attached to it that would create jobs, like Keystone and additional things? Yeah, I think I would consider that,” Rep. Tom Cole, an Oklahoma Republican, said today on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program. Cole currently opposes an increase.

Republicans earlier this week blocked the minimum wage bill from coming up for debate in the Senate. It would raise the wage to $10.10 an hour, in steps, from $7.25 now. There’s even less support for it in the Republican-led House, where many say an increase will cost jobs.

Yet a little good old fashion horse-trading might give the wage bill some traction, Cole says. If Obama really wants a wage increase, he needs to offer Republicans some incentives. Instead, Obama is using the minimum wage bill “as a political weapon.”

“If he were serious he would put something else on the table that would attract Republican support,” said Cole, who is close to Boehner, a Republican from Ohio. “So far he hasn’t done it, I think he enjoys the rhetoric of a debate.”

Obama needs to issue a permit to allow construction of the proposed pipeline transporting oil from the tar sands of Alberta to Gulfcoast refineries in the U.S. But the administration delayed a decision on the $5.4 billion project until after the November elections and possibly into next year, citing a legal challenge to the route it would take through Nebraska.

Keystone XL supporters are falling short in their efforts to round up the Democratic votes in the Senate to bypass the White House and approve the Canada-to-U.S. oil pipeline, reports Bloomberg’s Laura Litvan.

With elections seven months away, lawmakers have their eye on the calendar more than any legislative action. Cole was asked on MSNBC what will get enacted before November.

“Look, not a lot,” Cole said. “I think the big things largely are being pushed back by the election by both sides” and “that’s the political reality.”


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