Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger

President Obama Pushes for Minimum Wage Increase

Solar Panel workerBy Traci Carlson

“[B]ecause no one who works full-time in America should have to live in poverty, I am going to keep making the case that we need to raise the minimum wage.”

—President Barack Obama, during a July 24 speech on the economy at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill.

On July 24, President Obama delivered a speech on the economy, during which he advocated for policies that would rebuild ladders of opportunity for all Americans. He specifically called for an increase in the federal minimum wage, which is currently $7.25 per hour. The rate hasn’t seen a boost since 2009, despite surges in the cost of living and a recession that has left millions of Americans struggling to put food on the table. Since his State of the Union address, Obama has urged Congress to raise the minimum wage to $9 per hour.  

Bread for the World believes that well-paying jobs are essential to helping people lift themselves and their families out of poverty. But the current minimum wage makes it extremely difficult for even full-time workers being paid at that rate to make ends meet.

As President Obama pointed out in his speech, we cannot grow an economy by only cutting programs. Increasing the minimum wage and investing in anti-poverty programs such as SNAP (formerly food stamps) will stimulate job creation and economic growth, directly benefiting not only the working poor but small businesses, farmers, and local economies.

It is crucial to not only strengthen anti-poverty programs and measures, but to protect them from deep cuts as well. Any deal to replace the sequester or pass a fiscal year 2014 budget must not be at the expense of the poor.The sequester has directly hurt hungry and poor people, and there are other troubling developments on the horizon, including  threats to cut SNAP, a program on which 47 million Americans depend. The Senate version of the farm bill cut SNAP by $4 billion and the House farm bill failed to include any nutrition title. Congress must work with President Obama to replace the catastrophic sequester with a balanced plan that includes both revenues and responsible spending cuts, so that poor working families don’t suffer further harm.

Protecting SNAP, increasing the minimum wage, and replacing the sequester are all essential to decreasing hunger and poverty in the United States.

Traci Carlson is Bread for the World's government relations coordinator.

Photo: A worker from Maggio Roofing installs solar panels on a home in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood of the District of Columbia. (Mark Fenton).


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