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Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Weekly Address: President Obama – This Labor Day, Let’s Talk About the Minimum Wage

The President’s Weekly Address post is also an Open News Thread. Feel free to share other news stories in the comments.

BONUS VIDEO: The president spoke at Laborfest 2014 from Milwaukee WI Monday afternoon.

Transcript (Note: He did NOT wear tan. :) )


From the White HouseWeekly Address

In this week’s address, the President wished Americans a Happy Labor Day weekend, highlighted the important economic progress we’ve made, and reaffirmed his commitment to accelerate our progress and ensure that our growing economy fuels a strong middle class.

To do this, the President reiterated that Congress should do right by hardworking Americans across the country and raise the minimum wage, and he praised the 13 states and Washington, D.C. as well as employers large and small who have heeded his call and taken action to provide their citizens and employees a fair wage.

The President underscored that America built the world’s greatest middle class by making sure that everyone who’s willing to work hard and play by the rules can get ahead – an economic patriotism worth remembering this Labor Day, and every day.

Transcript: Weekly Address: This Labor Day, Let’s Talk About the Minimum Wage

Hi, everybody.  Whether you’re firing up the grill, fired up for some college football, or filling up the car for one last summer roadtrip – Happy Labor Day weekend.

We set aside Labor Day to honor the working men and women of America.  And this Labor Day, we’ve got more to celebrate.  Over the past 53 months, our businesses have added nearly 10 million new jobs.  Last month, for the first time since 1997, we created more than 200,000 jobs for six straight months.  And for the first time in over a decade, business leaders worldwide have declared, two years running, that the number one place to invest isn’t China – it’s America.

So there are reasons to be optimistic about where we’re headed.  And the decisions we make now will determine whether or not we accelerate this progress – whether economic gains flow to a few at the top, or whether a growing economy fuels rising incomes and a thriving middle class.

Think about it this Labor Day.  The things we often take for granted – Social Security and Medicare, workplace safety laws and the right to organize for better pay and benefits, even weekends – we didn’t always have these things.  Workers and the unions who get their back had to fight for them. And those fights built a stronger middle class.

To build a stronger middle class in today’s changing economy, we’ve got to keep fighting.  We’ve got to fight for the right to affordable health insurance for everybody.  The right to fair pay, family leave, and workplace flexibility.  The right to a fair living wage.

Let me focus on that last one for a minute.  In America, no one who works full-time should ever have to raise a family in poverty.  A hard day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay.  And raising the minimum wage would be one of the best ways to give a boost to working families.  It would help around 28 million Americans from all walks of life pay the bills, provide for their kids, and spend that money at local businesses.  And that grows the economy for everyone.

The bottom line is, America deserves a raise.  But until we’ve got a Congress that cares about raising working folks’ wages, it’s up to the rest of us to make it happen.  And in the year and a half since I first asked Congress to raise the minimum wage, Americans of all walks of life are doing just that.

Thirteen states and D.C. have done their part by raising their minimum wages.  Four more states have minimum wage initiatives on the ballot this November.  And the states where the minimum wage has gone up this year have experienced higher job growth than the states that haven’t.

Business leaders at companies like The Gap are doing their part.  They’re raising base wages for tens of thousands of workers because they know it’s good for business.

Mayors across the country are doing their part.  Mayor Emanuel in Chicago and Mayor Garcetti in L.A. are working to lift their cities’ wages over time to at least thirteen dollars an hour.

I’ve tried to do my part by requiring companies that get contracts with the federal government to pay their workers a fair wage of ten dollars and ten cents an hour.

And earlier this month, the president of Kentucky State University set a great example by giving himself a $90,000 pay cut, so that he could give raises to his lowest-paid employees.  His sacrifice will give more of his workers and their families a little extra money to help make ends meet.

That’s how America built the greatest middle class the world has ever known.  Not by making sure a fortunate few at the top are doing well, but by making sure that everyone who’s willing to work hard and play by the rules can get ahead. That’s the bedrock this country is built on.  Hard work.  Responsibility.  Sacrifice.  And looking out for one another as one united American family.

Let’s keep that in mind this Labor Day, and every day.  Have a great weekend, everybody.

Bolding added.



  1. He didn’t say “everyone who works full-time should be in the lap of luxury.” He said “no one who works full-time should be in poverty“. It is unconscionable that in the richest country in the world, hard work is not enough to keep you and your family clothed, sheltered and fed.

    Here is the money quote:

    … until we’ve got a Congress that cares about raising working folks’ wages, it’s up to the rest of us to make it happen

    Support and vote for local and state minimum wage hikes this fall … and vote in a Congress that cares about working folks’ wages.  

  2. This morning, this one from the Weekly Standard, cracked me up:

    Democrats Take the Low Road

    Going all-negative, all the time against Tom Cotton.

    The article complained that Democrats were making ads reporting on Senate candidate Rep. Tom Cotton’s teaparty House votes … when they should have realized that he was simply making a point, not voting to harm Arkansans!!!

    On the same page is an ad saying that a new “Obama scandal” will be worse than Clinton’s … and that Michael Bloomberg wants to take away your guns and your sodas!!!!

    Do these people have a mirror??????

  3. Laborfest:

    1am Parade beginning at Zeidler Square Memorial Park

    Laborfest 12pm-5pm Summerfest Grounds

    Organized by volunteers from local labor unions and affiliates and supported by area businesses and nonprofits, this year marks the 55th since the first Laborfest began in Milwaukee. Marking the constant struggles workers face, Laborfest is a time to not only relax with your family on the lakefront but join in solidarity for strong neighborhoods and communities.

    Enjoy Labor Day, achieved for all workers by unions, at Laborfest Milwaukee 2014!

    Children’s Activities

    Live Music

    Auto Show


    Issues and Policies Tent

    Food and Beverages available for purchase.



    Milwaukee Area Labor Council on Facebook

    Zeidler Square was named after Frank Zeidler, the socialist mayor of Milwaukee who was in office from 1948 to 1960. Even back then, Milwaukee’s lying liars on the right found ways to discredit the left:

    Zeidler faced the vexing issue of race relations as Milwaukee’s African-American population tripled during the 1950s. Zeidler was a vocal supporter of the civil rights movement and his opponents tried to exploit this to their advantage. Zeidler’s political enemies spread false rumors that Zeidler had put billboards in the South asking blacks to come north. Many workers in Milwaukee were threatened for supporting Zeidler. One manufacturer even threatened to fire employees who voted for Zeidler.

  4. Mayor Forces Man To Leave Public Meeting Because He Won’t Stand During Prayer

    Winter Garden Mayor John Rees, a nonpartisan official leading an Orlando suburb of about 37,000, was caught on video demanding that an audience member stand for a prayer, which thanked God for “allowing us to live in a country where we’re free to believe, think, and pray.”

    The audience member responded, “I don’t believe I have to do that, thank you.” After the prayer, Rees again instructed the constituent, identified by the Orlando Sentinel as Joseph Richardson, to stand for the pledge to the flag as “children have to in school.” Richardson again politely declined.

    “Okay. I asked him to either stand or please be escorted out as we do the Pledge,” Rees says in the video. “It’s just not fair to our troops and people overseas, sir.”

    The audience member was escorted out by law enforcement and not allowed to be present for the meeting.

    The irony burns: a prayer thanking God for “allowing us to live in a country where we’re free to believe, think, and pray.” is mandatory in order to attend city government meetings. Thank you, SCOTUS, for the Town of Greece ruling … paving the way for the creation of a religious litmus test for government participation.

  5. Michael Cohen: The punditry vs. the presidency

    Failure to recognize the very real limitations on American power, or the dangerous side effects of many seductively “tough-sounding” strategies, masks the vexing and often imperfect choices that are integral to foreign policy decision-making.

    Worst of all, the constant calls for a quick and usually muscular response to perceived national security threats gives Americans a false sense of insecurity. The fact is, while people may be relentlessly, breathlessly trying to make us believe that we’re on the cusp of World War III, the world is actually pretty safe. […]

    This doesn’t mean the U.S. should pull up the drawbridge and do nothing in response. Upholding global rules and norms that maintain international security is one of the key ways to ensure that this current era of relative peace continues. Pushing back on terrorist actors who threaten our values and the security of key allies is a sensible policy.

    But for Obama or any American President, doing so effectively means utilizing and properly leveraging the tools at his disposal, being realistic about what U.S. power can achieve, and perhaps above all, avoiding the sort of bold, ostentatious move that pundits love to recommend but rarely do much good.

    Despite missteps along the way – in particular, the dreadful 2009 decision to surge 30,000 American troops in Afghanistan – Obama’s foreign policy stewardship has increasingly become a model of deliberation and restraint. That approach often produces outcomes that are less than satisfying – but it doesn’t mean the underlying policy is unwise.

    Of course, because pundits crave cartoonish notions of leadership and are allergic to uncertainty and deliberation, the President’s ill-considered but honest statement Thursday that the U.S. has “no strategy yet” for dealing with ISIS set off a firestorm of mockery.

    But the recognition that any U.S. strategy will be dependent on the contributions of others, will develop and evolve over time and, above all, cannot be constructed on the fly, should be welcomed.

  6. Diana in NoVa

    is painful. I find myself overtipping because I’m so sorry for the struggle people in some jobs endure every day.

    Why did the “greatest country in the world” lose its way? Was it our two-party system? Was it Milton Friedman of the Chicago School of Economics, who decreed that the first duty of a corporation was to its shareholders, not to its mission and its employees?

    I don’t know, but I do know that life is hard for far too many people. And I’m sick of the crap that there’s “a shortage of qualified people.” Qualified people who are older than 50 are thrown out of their jobs every day of the week so the CEO can buy back shares of company stock and get an extra million or two in his paycheck.

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