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New England Governors Back Obama's Minimum Wage Hike Plan

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

President Obama is hoping lawmakers will raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. Many Republicans call that a potential job killer, and they're blocking the president's efforts in Congress. So as NPR's Tamara Keith reports, the president took his pitch to a place with a more receptive audience.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: It is good to be back in Connecticut.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Connecticut is a state where the minimum wage is already more than a dollar higher than the federal minimum, and where the governor, Dannel Malloy, has committed to try and boost it to 10.10 an hour.

GOVERNOR DANNEL MALLOY: New England needs to lead on this issue. We need to make sure that women move out of poverty, that young people move out of poverty, that they can raise their families.

KEITH: When polled, women and young people overwhelmingly favor raising the minimum wage, and they are also voters Democrats need. Malloy and the president were joined at the rally by three other New England governors, all working to raise wages in their states.

OBAMA: This is like a governor super-group.

KEITH: That super-group is doing what Congress will not. Brendan Buck, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, said in a statement that raising the minimum wage will destroy jobs for people who need them the most. And if the speaker of the House isn't onboard, well, the president's proposal isn't going anywhere. That's why Obama is making the case that states, cities, employers, anyone who can, should raise their own minimum wage.

OBAMA: Nobody who works full-time should ever have to raise a family in poverty.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: That violates a basic sense of who we are.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: And that's why it's time to give America a raise.

KEITH: Six states have ballot measures this year to raise wages. Half of them have competitive Senate races, where Democrats hope this issue will help turn out voters. Tamara Keith, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tamara Keith has been a White House correspondent for NPR since 2014 and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast, the top political news podcast in America. Keith has chronicled the Trump administration from day one, putting this unorthodox presidency in context for NPR listeners, from early morning tweets to executive orders and investigations. She covered the final two years of the Obama presidency, and during the 2016 presidential campaign she was assigned to cover Hillary Clinton. In 2018, Keith was elected to serve on the board of the White House Correspondents' Association.