NEW BRITAIN, Conn. (AP) — President Barack Obama says Congress should follow the lead of New England states that have raised the minimum wage above the federal rate.
Obama says he pulled together what he called “the justice league of governors” at Central Connecticut State University because they are making sure work pays a decent wage.
The president wants Congress to increase the wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10. But he faces opposition to the idea on Capitol Hill.
Obama said nobody who works full time should have to raise a family in poverty.
Obama dined earlier at a cafe nearby the campus that pays workers more than $10 an hour. He was joined by the four governors, all Democrats, of Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont.
Seeking to dramatize his push for higher wages, President Barack Obama dined out in Connecticut Wednesday in a restaurant where employees get considerably more than the $7.25-an-hour federal minimum.
Obama had a steak sandwich at Cafe Beauregard in New Britain with Democratic governors from Northeast states that already have a minimum wage that is higher than the national minimum. The president wants Congress to increase the wage to $10.10 an hour in steps, but it’s not clear he can get enough support from Congress.
Obama congratulated Govs. Dannel Malloy of Connecticut, Deval Patrick of Massachusetts, Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island and Peter Shumlin of Vermont for “making sure that work pays.”
“We were just talking to the owners of this establishment who pay their workers more than the minimum wage because as the owner put it, he knows what it’s like to work your whole life and understands that if people are working hard, they shouldn’t be in poverty,” Obama said. The president ordered the Spicy Korean BBQ Steak sandwich, with thinly sliced NY strip steak, marinated and grilled, topped with Asian slaw and sriracha mayo on a club roll for $9.95. “I’m going with meat,” he said.
Connecticut’s governor signed a wage hike last year that raises hourly wages to $9 next January. He’s also asked state lawmakers to raise it further to $10.10 in line with Obama’s proposal.
“This is an important tool for us to help create more pathways into the middle class and make sure if you work hard in this country you can succeed,” Obama told reporters. “There are other tools that are reflected in my budget like the earned income tax credit expansion that we’ve proposed that will also make a difference.”
Obama was scheduled to deliver remarks on his proposal later at Central Connecticut State University near the cafe. Obama also planned to stop in Boston to be the headline speaker at a pair of Democratic National Committee fund-raisers.