Give America a raise

Obama’s call to raise minimum wage was right on the money

“Inequality has deepened. Upward mobility has stalled. The cold, hard fact is that even in the midst of recovery, too many Americans are working more than ever just to get by, let alone to get ahead. And too many still aren’t working at all.”

Those words by President Obama during his State of the Union speech Tuesday evening, Jan. 28, punctuated an address largely focused on furthering the nation’s economic recovery and expanding opportunity for the middle class.

One of the ideas he highlighted is a hike of the federal minimum wage. As the president pointed out, the nation’s minimum wage is worth less than it was when President Reagan stood at that very spot in the House chamber some 32 years ago during his first State of the Union address.

President Obama, speaking during his fifth such speech to the nation, lamented Washington’s preoccupation with the size of the federal government, and how the perennial argument over that issue has kept lawmakers from working for the American people.

He called for 2014 to be a year of action. And he vowed to make it so, with or without the help of Congress.

To that end, with regard to aiding struggling Americans, he announced his plan to issue an executive order in the coming weeks that will require federal contractors to pay federally funded employees a minimum of $10.10 per hour. He pointed to Costco as one of the model businesses paying higher wages to boost employee productivity and retention, and he encouraged other employers to increase salaries.

But, as he acknowledged, the federal minimum wage is in the hands of Congress. The president said it’s time to give the nation a raise, and we agree with him. There’s already a bill in the House to hike it to $10.10 an hour, an amount that will not only help families but also businesses by giving give citizens more money to spend. As the president said directly to Congress, “Say yes. Give America a raise.”