While House Speaker John Boehner is suing President Barack Obama over taking too much action, and the president is calling out the GOP for blocking action — going as far as blaming the party for the state of the economy.
In a speech in Minneapolis as a part of a two-day trip, Obama called out Republicans in Congress for blocking votes on legislation. “So far this year, Republicans in Congress have blocked or voted down every single serious idea to strengthen the middle class,” he said. “They’ve said no to raising the minimum wage. They’ve said no to fair pay. Some of them have denied that there’s even a problem, despite the fact that women are getting paid 77 cents for every dollar a man is getting paid.”
In April, Senate Republicans blocked one of Obama’s top legislative priorities: increasing the federal minimum wage. The notion is one Minnesota has embraced, raising its state minimum wage from one of the lowest in the country to one of the highest; recent legislation changed the wages from $6.15 per hour to $9.50 by 2016. Obama’s proposal would have increased the federal minimum wage to $10.10, the first increase since 2009. Obama said that business owners told him they “became more profitable when they made family life easier for their employees.”
“So more companies are deciding that higher wages and workplace flexibility is good for business — it reduces turnover, more productive workers, more loyal workers,” Obama said. “More cities and states are deciding this is good policy for families.” The president added that “the only holdout standing in the way of change for tens of millions of Americans are some Republicans in Congress.”
Democrats continue to reiterate that higher wages could pump more money into the economy and increase growth, and the polls have shown that the majority of Americans supported Obama’s proposed increase to $10.10. However, Republicans won’t let it go unnoticed that a Bloomberg poll showed 57 percent of Americans were against a minimum wage increase when informed that it would cost the nation 500,000 jobs, according to calculations from the Congressional Budget Office. (The same poll showed that 69 percent of Americans, including 45 percent of Republicans, backed Obama’s wage proposal, which would increase the income for 16.5 million workers.)
Republican response to Obama’s Minneapolis speech criticized its partisan agenda, and Michael Steel, a spokesman for Boehner, said Obama and Democrats are blocking House-passed bills that would create jobs. “With recent news that the economy contracted worse than originally thought and America’s middle class is no longer the world’s richest, it’s clear President Obama’s policies still aren’t working and the country needs a new direction,” Republican National Committee spokesperson Michael Short said in a statement. In the first-quarter of 2014, U.S. gross domestic product contracted 2.9 percent. As of May, the number of jobs lost during the recession have been recovered, the population of the country has grown, leaving a smaller percentage of Americans employed, and workers aren’t necessarily making the wages or working jobs in equal value to their skills and training.
Meanwhile, Obama has also responded to Boehner’s lawsuit against him, which alleges his use of executive orders and recess appointees are overstepping the limits of presidential power as designated in the constitution, by calling it a “stunt.”
“The suit is a stunt,” Obama said to ABC News, “but what I’ve told Speaker Boehner directly is, ‘If you’re really concerned about me taking too many executive actions, why don’t you try getting something done through Congress?’”