218: Obama Pressures GOP on Unemployment Extension, Minimum Wage
President Barack Obama continues to keep up the drumbeat for an unemployment extension and a minimum wage hike, but neither issue appears any closer to a reality in Congress.
The president is taking his case to the airwaves and social media, using his advocacy arm, Organizing for Action, to try and pressure the GOP.
On Saturday, Obama used his weekly radio address to push his $10.10 an hour minimum wage proposal, ahead of votes in the Senate when Congress returns next week.
“Republicans have voted more than 50 times to undermine or repeal health care for millions of Americans. They should vote at least once to raise the minimum wage for millions of working families,” Obama said. “If a Republican in Congress represents you, tell him or her it’s time to give the politics a rest for a while and do something to help working Americans. It’s time for ‘ten-ten.’ It’s time to give America a raise.”
And on Friday, the @BarackObama twitter account tweeted another call for Congress to pass an unemployment extension.
The prospects for both proposals remain bleak.
Speaker John A. Boehner has flatly opposed a minimum wage hike as a job killer. And the Ohio Republican has made it clear since December he’d only be willing to accept another extension of emergency unemployment benefits if it was accompanied by jobs legislation sought by the GOP — although, he has been vague about what, exactly, would be enough to convince him to act. (Other Republicans have floated a job-training overhaul, approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, repeal of the medical device tax and assorted other ideas which have bipartisan support). There has been speculation that a bipartisan job training overhaul could be the linchpin to a deal on an unemployment extension.
Boehner, for his part, made his own pitch in the GOP’s radio address for Republican jobs bills that remain stalled in the Senate, while taking a victory lap on the conservative accomplishments under his tenure — including cutting government spending and preventing an income tax hike on 99 percent of Americans.
So far there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of direct contact between Boehner and Obama, as both sides continue talking past each other.
Drew Hammill, spokesman for Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., also took a whack Saturday at Boehner.
“Nowhere did he explain why Republicans refuse to enact comprehensive immigration reform or why Republicans have wasted so much time with 50 votes to repeal or undermine the Affordable Care Act. Not once did he tell us when Republicans will allow a vote to increase the minimum wage or extend unemployment insurance. . . .Doing nothing is not an agenda – it’s a disgrace.”