- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 30, 2014

Democrats’ push to raise the nation’s minimum wage has taken a backseat recently to crises in the Middle East and elsewhere, but President Obama on Saturday resumed the effort and accused Republicans of not caring about the standard of living of average Americans.

In his weekly address, Mr. Obama used the upcoming Labor Day holiday as another way to raise the issue of the minimum wage, which the White House wants to increase from $7.25 to $10.10. The wage has become a centerpiece of the administration’s so-called “opportunity agenda” and also is a key talking point for Democrats on the campaign trail.

“Raising the minimum wage would be one of the best ways to give a boost to working families. It would help around 28 million Americans from all walks of life pay the bills, provide for their kids, and spend that money at local businesses. And that grows the economy for everyone,” the president said. “The bottom line is, America deserves a raise. But until we’ve got a Congress that cares about raising working folks’ wages, it’s up to the rest of us to make it happen.”

The president praised states, cities and private companies that have decided on their own to raise their minimum rate. At least 13 states have raised their minimum wages, as have cities such as Chicago and Los Angeles. Some retail chains have done the same.

“Business leaders at companies like The Gap are doing their part. They’re raising base wages for tens of thousands of workers because they know it’s good for business,” Mr. Obama said.

But Republicans countered that it’s the administration’s economic policies — along with its war on domestic fossil fuels such as coal — that are keeping wages low and restricting opportunity.

“We’re seeing some jobs come back, but too many of our fellow Americans are stuck in part-time work or have stopped looking altogether. And between wages staying flat, and costs on everything from food to health care going up, families are being squeezed at every turn,” said Rep. Larry Bucshon, Indiana Republican, in the GOP weekly address.

Mr. Bucshon singled out the White House’s efforts to restrict carbon emissions from power plants, a policy widely expected to have a devastating impact on domestic coal production.

He also pushed Republican-backed job-creation bills, an overhaul of the nation’s tax code and a variety of other pieces of his party’s agenda.

“We call [these proposals] ‘American solutions’ because they put the American people first, which is exactly what we’re asking of President Obama and Senate Democrats as we celebrate our nation’s workforce, put aside politics, and do what Americans do every day, and that’s get to work,” he said.

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