Advertisement

You will be redirected to the page you want to view in  seconds.

President Obama speaks on raising the national minimum wage at the University of Michigan on April 2, 2014, in Ann Arbor, Mich. / Jewel Samad, AFP/Getty Images

With Congress expected to soon begin debating whether to lift the minimum wage, President Obama on Wednesday said lawmakers must choose between giving Americans "the shaft" or "a raise."

The federal push to raise the rate faces long odds of getting through a GOP-led House, but that hasn't stopped the White House from focusing on an issue that polls show resonates with voters.

Obama traveled to the Ann Arbor campus of the University of Michigan for his latest push on the issue.

In the coming days, the Senate is likely to debate a plan by Iowa Democrat Tom Harkin that would gradually lift today's minimum wage of $7.25 an hour to $10.10 by 2016. Democrats will need 60 Senate votes to overcome Republican opposition to the increase.

"Now next week, members of Congress have a fresh chance to show which side they are on," Obama said. "They are going to get a yes-or-no vote on raising the minimum wage all across this country. And they got to make a clear choice, talk the talk about valuing hardworking families or walk the walk and actually value hardworking families."

With his latest push, Obama chose a state where a recent Detroit Free Press poll found that 65% of Michigan voters support a statewide ballot proposal to hike the state's wage from $7.40 to $10.10, even as the Michigan's Republican Gov. Rick Snyder and the GOP-led Legislature oppose it.

Republicans say that hiking the minimum wage would be a job killer and point to a recent Congressional Budget Office estimate that the economy would lose 500,000 jobs if the $10.10 level were implemented.

"The president's plan would increase costs for consumers and eliminate jobs for those who need them the most," said Brendan Buck, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. "The House is going to continue focusing on our plan to protect workers' hours and create jobs, not the president's plan to destroy them."

Before delivering his address on the Michigan campus, Obama had lunch at Zingerman's Deli, an iconic Ann Arbor restaurant. Zingerman's owner, Paul Saginaw, is part of a coalition of business owners that has advocated gradually raising the minimum wage.

Saginaw made the case that raising the minimum wage is good for businesses' bottom line.

"We know from experience a minimum wage increase makes great sense for business," he said. "Since opening Zingerman's Deli almost 32 years ago, we've grown to eight businesses employing 625 permanent staff with revenues just under $50 million. Paying entry wages our employees can live on has been important for our profitability and our annual compounded growth rate of 10%."

Obama, who said that he ordered a Reuben sandwich, seemed to enjoy his visit to the deli. He said that his sandwich was so big that he gave half of it to White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, but quickly came to regret sharing.

"After I finished the half, I wanted the (other) half back, but it was too late," Obama joked. "All she had left was the pickle. "

He added, "So, I took the pickle."



Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com

Read the original story: Obama to GOP: Don't give low-wage workers 'the shaft'

More In

test

Real Deals

Flip, shop and save on specials from your favorite retailers in central Ohio.

GET DEALS | COUPONS

Things To Do

THU
31
FRI
1
SAT
2
SUN
3
MON
4
TUE
5
WED
6

CLASSIFIEDS

Classifieds from across Central Ohio
Lancaster
Chillicothe
Newark
Marion
Bucyrus
Mansfield
Zanesville
Coshocton

Weeklies & Shoppers

10TV Headlines

Dispatch Headlines

METROMIX