Obama takes minimum wage pitch to Michigan

Posted at 10:17 AM, Apr 02, 2014
and last updated 2014-04-02 10:17:45-04

DETROIT, Michigan (CNN) — Having declared his signature health care initiative a success — at least for now — President Barack Obama heads to Michigan Wednesday to advance another top domestic priority, raising the federal minimum wage.

Obama has made the wage pitch at events across the country over the past several months, urging Congress to up the minimum hourly rate nearly three dollars, to $10.10 per hour.

Some states have already increased their minimum wages, and the President has encouraged business owners to voluntarily pay hourly employees at the higher rate.

He’s also signed an executive action that mandated all workers on federal contracts be paid at least $10.10 an hour.

The chances of seeing Congress OK an increase to the federal minimum wage appear nonexistent, at least ahead of this November’s midterm elections. Democrats are confident the issue will help them among voters, since it allows them to paint Republicans as opposed to higher paychecks.

The GOP, meanwhile, contends an increase would be a job killer. They point to a report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office showing Obama’s proposed increase would cost the economy half a million jobs. (The report also indicated such a hike would help bring millions of Americans out of poverty).

In Michigan, the wage fight is being fought at the state level, with the group Raise Michigan pushing lawmakers to lift the state’s $7.40 hourly minimum wage to Obama’s preferred $10.10 per hour.

Raising the national minimum wage appears to be popular with many voters. According to a new Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday morning, half of registered voters nationwide said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who supports raising the minimum wage, with a quarter saying they’d be less likely to vote for that candidate, and one in four saying it wouldn’t affect their vote.

At his event in Ann Arbor Wednesday, Obama will be joined by Democratic Rep. Gary Peters, who’s running in a very competitive race to try and keep the seat of retiring six-term Sen. Carl Levin in party hands.

Peters, who also appeared with Obama during a visit to East Lansing in February, is one of the few Democratic Senate hopefuls who’s so far been willing to attend events with the President. Incumbents have cited Congressional responsibilities in Washington when missing Obama speeches on their home states.

Many were wary of aligning themselves with Obama’s health law, which faltered at its launch but winded up exceeding its goal of enrolling 7 million Americans.

White House officials, speaking after the enrollment announcement this week, noted that no Democrat had yet defected on the law. The unexpected success in sign-ups would hurt Republicans, the officials reasoned, since voters who now have health insurance won’t be receptive to candidates advocating the law’s repeal.

Following his event on the campus of the University of Michigan, Obama heads to Chicago for two fundraising events for the Democratic National Committee.

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