In Tuesday's State of the Union address, President Obama made a bold statement, urging lawmakers to raise the minimum wage to $9/hour. With a focus on a thriving middle class, Obama said, "It could mean the difference between groceries or the food bank; rent or eviction; scraping by or finally getting ahead."
As reported Tuesday on our live-blog of the event, the last time the minimum wage was increased was July 24, 2009 when it rose from $6.55 to $7.25. This was the final step of a gradual increase approved by Congress in 2007, IVN editor Shawn Griffiths adds.
Obama's proposal to raise the minimum wage across the nation received overwhelming applause from the Democrats in the chamber, while Republicans sparsely rose to their feets in support of this proposal.
In fact, Republicans have already begun pushing back, with House Speaker John Boehner speaking out against raising the minimum wage:
“Listen, when people are asking the question ‘Where are the jobs?’ why would we want to make it harder for small employers to hire people? I’ve got 11 brothers and sisters on every rung of the economic ladder. I know about this issue as much as anybody in this town,” he said to reporters Wednesday morning.
With a country divided, however, where do independent-minded voters stand on the issue? We turned to Facebook for answers, asking our Facebook community for their thoughts on the president's proposal.
Responses varied greatly, with some in full support of raising the minimum wage, some advocating the rate go even higher, some diametrically opposed to the idea of a government-mandated increase in minimum wage, and some associating increased wages with the end of the dollar menu.
Here are the top responses from independent-minded voters FOR or AGAINST raising the federal minimum wage:
"I think it's a great idea. We would have fewer working poor needing food stamps and other types of government assistance if they could afford to buy their own food. Duh."
"It should have been raised long ago ~ generates more money for government & far too many will benefit. I think it will be good."
"We need a raise in the minimum raise. The CEO's of most companies make 100's of times more money than the "little people" actually doing the job."
"Increasing the minimum wage will have minimal or no effect on increasing the cost of living. It merely will afford some degree of relief,albeit perhaps short lived, for those who work hard to put food on their table without looking for government handouts."
"To those who say it will raise the cost of everything else and result in increased unemployment: Those are the arguments always deployed by the powerful against those who might support reasonable pay and treatment for workers."
"Our economy would be HUGELY stimulated and less people dependent on government programs."
"I couldn't be more in favor of $9.00 an hour minimum wage! Question is- how do we get Congress & the Senate to accept that drastic pay cut?"
"Yes. It raises the quality of life for many Americans."
"This won't work. Why do you think many businesses outsource to China and India? They raised the minimum wage here in Albuquerque to $8.50 an hour and places are cutting back hours now."
"No reason to raise a national minimum wage when the cost of living and the economy is not going up. Leave it to the States! Our economy needs less government intervention!"
"Here in VA where I live, for every four workers that got a raise would mean one person would have their job eliminated to pay for it. If a business has 20 workers that means up to 5 people could be fired."
"Historically, Minimum wage goes up, price of everything goes up. Those living on FIXED INCOMES (Social Security / Disabled / Retirees) will sink deeper into poverty. Youth unemployment will increase as those jobs will dry up. Unless income for the employer increases, mandated increases force merchants to upwardly adjust fees/charges."
"Minimum wage is NOT meant to live on forever or raise a family on. Improved skills lead to higher wages & a better family life."
"The government shouldn't have the power to tell an employer what they have to pay their employees."
"How many jobs will disappear simply because they are not worth $9 an hour?"
Some alternative ideas include an automatic raise in the minimum wage to coincide with the rise in inflation on a yearly basis, pairing an increased minimum wage with tax cuts for small businesses, and better jobs.
"The minimum wage was never intended to be a "living wage". What we need are better jobs. This is partly our fault for our desire to spend our money on soft services, and a huge part the fault of corporations for off-shoring jobs."
How about making the maximum wage for politicians $9 an hour, one Facebook follower suggests.