But Harkin so far has rejected calls from colleagues to align behind Obama’s plan. He and Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., have introduced separate plans in the Senate (S 460) and the House (HR 1010), respectively, to push the wage to $10.10. Harkin says a bigger jump is needed to match productivity gains and keep pace with the private sector median hourly wage of $20.32.
While Democrats settle such disputes, Mark Wilson, a former deputy assistant secretary of Labor under George W. Bush, says Republicans are likely to link their opposition to concerns about the health care mandate, unemployment and the potential for “1970s-style cost-push inflation.”
Wilson, who heads Applied Economic Strategies, a consulting firm, says the minimum wage will be a high-profile issue in the 2014 campaign season. “Democrats will get it passed, or they will lose and get the issue,” he said.