President Obama on Wednesday appealed to Congress to raise the minimum wage, telling lawmakers they had a “clear choice” to make as the Senate readied debate on his proposal to hike hourly wages to $10.10 per hour.
“You can give America the shaft or you can give it a raise,” Obama said during the speech on the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor.
“Politically, you would think people would rush to do this,” Obama said during the campaign-style tour through Michigan. “Nearly three in four Americans support raising the minimum wage.”
Obama made his case by invoking beloved Michigan institutions, including the Ford Motor Company. He noted that when company founder Henry Ford significantly increased wages for workers in the early days of the auto industry, “fellow business leaders thought he had lost his mind.”
But ultimately, Obama said, Ford’s move increased productivity and worker retention, while building out the middle class.
“It meant that the workers could afford to buy the cars they were building,” Obama said. “So by paying your workers more, you were building your own markets for your product.”
“Fair wages and higher profits can go hand-in-hand,” Obama said.