Obama to push for $10.10 minimum wage in Ann Arbor as debate heats up in Congress


President Barack Obama is scheduled to speak at the University of Michigan at about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Intramural Building to push for a raise in the federally-mandated minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour over the next three years.

Michigan's minimum wage is $7.40.

Obama, who first called for a minimum wage hike during his latest State of the Union address, has framed the issue as one with broad bipartisan support, pointing to polls that show majorities of Democrats, independents and Republicans supporting a minimum wage increase.

It is an issue the White House hopes will drive young people to the polls. About 260,000 people with college or professional degrees entered into minimum wage jobs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Mackinac Island senior Mike Green works a minimum wage job, and hopes wages will be increased.

"The idea that people should be paid more to meet the standard of living is very logical up front," he said.

Green said he is sure any increase in the minimum wage would come with some hiccups and adjustments over time.

The prospect of passing a minimum wage increase through Congress is up in the air, as Republicans remain steadfast in their opposition to an increase and many Democrats join Senate Republicans in moving away from Obama's $10.10 figure.

The Hill reported Tuesday that several Senate Democrats are being wooed by moderate Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine on a compromise package that would raise the minimum wage to a lower figure. Politicians have discussed a wage closer to $9 per hour, indexed to inflation, as presented by Obama in 2013.

Several Democrats, especially those up for re-election, saw the compromise as a politically feasible way to get a minimum wage increase passed through Congress, while liberal Democrats and labor union leaders have blasted the proposal as too great a compromise.

“Looking to shave off part of it for political expediency doesn’t make any sense for people who work 40 hours a week and will continue to be in poverty if you lower it below $10.10," officials told The Hill.

A February Congressional Budget Office report found raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour would lift 900,000 Americans out of poverty. The CBO also warned that it would cost the economy about 500,000 jobs. A $9 minimum wage is expected to claim 100,000 jobs.

Obama's Ann Arbor visit marks the second time he's visited Michigan this year. He last came to the state in February when he signed the Farm Bill in Lansing.

Check cm-life.com today and pick up Friday's edition of Central Michigan Life for additional coverage of Obama's visit to Ann Arbor.