Clinton Promotes $1 Minimum Wage Hike
WASHINGTON (Feb. 12) -- In an upbeat talk to congressional Democrats Thursday, President Bill Clinton pushed for a $1 increase in the minimum wage over the next two years.
Clinton said opponents will argue that a higher minimum wage will eliminate jobs. But he said the economy is strong enough to support an increase and the real value of the minimum wage remains less than it was 20 years ago. The current rate is $5.15/hour.
"I think we ought to reach out a hand," Clinton said. "We say we favor work over welfare ... If people are going to show up for work, they ought to be able to raise their children in dignity."
Clinton was on Capitol Hill for a Democratic pep rally to promote a '98 legislative agenda that includes, along with the wage hike, Social Security reform; a national initiative to hire 100,000 teachers and lower class size in early grades; and a consumer bill of rights for people enrolled in health maintenance organizations.
Clinton made no reference to the Monica Lewinsky sex-and-perjury investigation swirling around his administration. But Clinton did suggest Americans are focused on the future and what affects them, not the past.
"Our citizens are focused on the future and their own lives ... And we're here today not to talk about the past, but to talk about that future," Clinton said.
The administration plan for the wage hike was worked out in consultation with Democratic lawmakers who wanted to push for a larger increase. But White House advisors pushed for two 50-cent a year increases because that would mirror the last increase.
CNN's John King contributed to this report.