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Obama wants to raise the minimum wage. Where does this leave the GOP?
18 February 2013 09:06 AM
On these isles the Living Wage campaign - which proposes a minimum wage in line with the cost of living - has won support across Westminster, with Boris and Ed Miliband strident backers. Now there's some similar momentum in the US. President Obama announced in his State of the Union address an intention to lift the minimum wage from $7.25 to $9 an hour, and take thousands of workers out of poverty. So how's this playing out politically?
Pretty well for Democrats, says Eleanor Clift at the Daily Beast. Raising the wage polls well, and even better, it puts Republicans on the wrong side of public opinion. House Speaker John Boehner dismissed the idea, claiming that a lift in wages leads to less employment. Others in the GOP acknowledge they may look flat-footed in opposition to a widely popular move.
For instance The Atlantic's Garance Franke-Ruta notes that Republicans won't want to be seen fighting against a proposal that has particular appeal with Hispanics and women; two demographics they're desperate to court. A minimum wage campaign, says Franke-Ruta, might be a fresh "wedge issue", able to cast a GOP desperate to reinvent itself as "the party of the rich, the already-established and the intransigent" once more.