MILWAUKEE — President Barack Obama on Monday renewed his call to raise the federal minimum wage and to protect the right to equal pay for women as the midterm elections come into sight.
Obama told a crowd of about 6,000 people in Milwaukee at a festival hosted by the local AFL-CIO that his goal is to make sure that all Americans can meet simple goals, such as being able to pay their bills and send their children to school.
In spite of opposition from Republicans, Obama said, "There is no denying the simple truth: America deserves a raise."
Hailing examples set by employers such as Kentucky State University, whose president took a pay cut to give raises to his lowest-paid workers, Obama said Congress needs to catch up to the businesses and other institutions — as well as the 13 states and the District of Columbia — that have raised their minimum wage.
Obama also referred to his executive order in February requiring that federal contractors in 2015 increase their minimum hourly wage to $10.10 from $7.25.
Countering arguments that raising the minimum wage would reduce jobs, he said states that have not waited for the federal government to raise wages have seen more job growth than those that have not raised their wages.
After a summer dominated by grim news at home and abroad, the president on Monday, the unofficial opening of the general election season, tried to refocus attention on an economic policy issue that could help his party. Democrats, wary of getting too close to Obama and his lackluster approval ratings, are fighting to keep control of the Senate in the midterm elections.
Obama urged Americans not to listen to those who would have them believe that voting will not do them any good. "Don't buy it because despite the cynics, America's on the move," he said. "It's making progress."