President Obama once again took his case to Congress and the American people for raising the federal minimum wage, and he praised a Minnesota pizzeria for paying its workers more dough in the process.
In attendance at Tuesday's State of the Union address was John Sorrano, the CEO and founder of Twin Cities-based Punch Pizza, in recognition of having voluntarily raised the minimum wage for the 300 workers at his eight restaurants to $10/hour.
Nick Chute, a kitchen worker at Punch Pizza, was even chosen to sit in First Lady Michelle Obama's viewing box at the Capital, alongside such prominent people as recently promoted GM CEO Mary Barra, the first female chief executive of a major auto company.
President Obama said in prepared remarks, “In the year since I asked this Congress to raise the minimum wage, five states have passed laws to raise theirs. Many businesses have done it on their own. Nick Chute is here tonight with his boss, John Soranno. John’s an owner of Punch Pizza in Minneapolis, and Nick helps make the dough. Only now he makes more of it: John just gave his employees a raise, to 10 bucks an hour — and that’s a decision that has eased their financial stress and boosted their morale."
“Punch made the decision to give raises purely based on what is best for our business and our employees.”
“Our decision had nothing to do with politics,” said Punch co-owner John Puckett to the Minneapolis StarTribune in this piece. “Punch made the decision to give raises purely based on what is best for our business and our employees.”
In this statement from the White House, President Obama says he wants to work with Congress to pass the Harkin-Miller bill that would increase the Federal minimum wage to $10.10 and index it to inflation thereafter.
In his State of the Union Address, the President also announced he will use his executive authority to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 for those working on new federal contracts for services.
72% of Americans favor raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10.
At first glance, public opinion polls indicate that raising the minimum wage would be popular among the general public. A Reason-Rupe poll found 72% of Americans favor raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10, while 26% are opposed. Support also appears to be nonpartisan, with majorities of Republicans (53%) as well as Independents (72%) and Democrats (87%) in favor.
However, once Americans consider costs, support for a minimum wage raise drops. Some 57% of people surveyed say they would oppose a wage hike if it were to cause some employers to lay-off or hire fewer workers.
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) have both made it clear they oppose raising the minimum wage, calling it inflationary and counterproductive. They say it would end up costing jobs for people at the bottom rung of the economic ladder, the very people the wage hike would be designed to help.
Fifty-four percent of Americans who identify themselves as Republicans believe raising the minimum wage would reduce jobs. That view is shared by 39% of Americans overall.