State of the Union: Obama Calls on Federal Government to 'Give America a Raise'

President Barack Obama on Tuesday called for the government to "give America a raise" by raising the federal minimum wage – a move that would affect just 2.8% of Americans in the workforce who earn at or below the minimum wage.

"Tom Harkin and George Miller have a bill to fix that by lifting the minimum wage to $10.10," said Obama during his State of the Union Address. "This will help families. It will give businesses customers with more money to spend. It doesn't involve any new bureaucratic program. So join the rest of the country. Say yes. Give America a raise."

Obama and Democrats hope to blunt midterm congressional losses in November by calling for a federal minimum wage boost. However, 21 states already have raised their wages above the $7.25 federal rate. Indeed, Obama's own former chairwoman of the Council of Economic Advisers Christina Romer has said, "economic analysis raises questions about whether a higher minimum wage will achieve better outcomes for the economy and reduce poverty." Romer added, "most economists prefer other ways to help low-income families."

Minorities stand to be hurt most by a minimum wage boost, noted Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman. Raising labor costs encourages employers to demand higher skilled workers for positions previously filled by low-skill workers. "The most anti-black law on the books of this land is the minimum wage law," said Friedman.

Whether Obama's minimum wage pitch will help revive his fading popularity remains to be seen. According to Gallup, just 41% of Americans approve of the job Obama is doing as president.


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