- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 22, 2015

At a rally to build support for raising taxes on wealthier families, President Obama repeated the dubious assertion Thursday that U.S. wages are rising.

“Here’s what’s most important: Today, because the economy is growing at a faster pace, we’re starting to actually see wages tick up for the first time in a very long time,” Mr. Obama told a crowd of about 7,100 at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. He cited wage growth as proof that his economic policies are succeeding.

But the government reported last week that wages essentially didn’t grow at all in 2014. The Labor Department said the seasonally adjusted median weekly wage at the end of 2014 was $796; at same time in 2013, it was $794.

Hourly earnings in the private sector rose 1.7 percent last year, which is much weaker than earnings climbed prior to the recession that began in December 2007. Before the recession, earnings were growing at more than 3 percent per year.

The president also made the claim about rising wages in his State of the Union address Tuesday night, when he called on Congress to raises taxes on capital gains and to close tax loopholes on wealthier families and on corporations that keep profits overseas. Republican leaders say they oppose the tax hikes, in part, because it would threaten the economic recovery.



In Kansas, the president said the GOP needs to come up with alternative ideas to pay for his initiatives such as expanded child care credits for middle-class families and government-paid tuition for community college students.

“I don’t want anybody being day care poor,” Mr. Obama said. “I don’t want family to face the choice between not working or leaving their children in unsafe or poor quality child care. We’re a better country than that.”

Cory Fritz, an aide to Speaker John A. Boehner, responded, “Republicans are all for increasing access to quality, affordable education, but we don’t need more top-down policies from Washington or new tax hikes on middle-income families saving for their children’s college education.”

Republicans say one of Mr. Obama’s proposals would raise taxes on so-called “529” savings plans, which are used by about 21 million families to save for college tuition and expenses.

To emphasize the need for quality child care, Mr. Obama visited a Head Start classroom prior to his speech. Discussing a children’s book about discrimination, Mr. Obama told a group of preschoolers that his job would be a lot easier if some Americans didn’t feel superior to others.

His comments were prompted by the realization that the 4-year-olds were reading a Dr. Seuss book called “Sneetches and Other Stories.” In the book, Sneetches are characters with stars on their bellies who discriminate against others who lack stars.

“That is one of my favorite stories,” the president told the kids. “In fact most of the things I deal with as president would be solved if everybody read about the Sneetches. Because there are some people who think they’re special ‘cause they’ve got stars, and some who feel bad ‘cause they don’t.”

According a pool reporter traveling with the president, one child asked Mr. Obama what he wanted to be when he grew up.

“When I was really young I wanted to be an architect,” Mr. Obama said. “You know what an architect is? … We build buildings. We design buildings. We make buildings like schools, libraries, and office buildings. I really wanted to do that when I was young.”

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