The White House has thrown its weight behind a proposal to raise the federal minimum wage to at least $10 an hour.
“The president has long supported raising the minimum wage so hard-working Americans can have a decent wage for a day’s work to support their families and make ends meet,” a White House official said.
President Barack Obama, the official said, supports the Harkin-Miller bill, also known as the Fair Minimum Wage Act, which would raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour from its current $7.25.
The legislation is sponsored in the Senate by Tom Harkin of Iowa and in the House by George Miller of California, both Democrats. It would raise the minimum wage — in three steps of 95 cents each, taking place over two years — to $10.10, and then index it to inflation. The legislation will probably be coupled with some tax sweeteners for small businesses, traditionally the loudest opponents of increases to the minimum wage.
“The combination of an increase to $10.10 and some breaks for small business on expensing unite virtually the whole Democratic caucus, and we are prepared to move forward shortly,” said Sen. Charles Schumer of New York, the Senate’s third-ranking Democrat.
Jason Furman, the chairman of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers, attended a Senate luncheon Thursday with a focus on raising the minimum wage. One official at the luncheon said that some Democratic senators from more conservative states favored an increase to $9 an hour, but including the expensing provision was enough of a sweetener to bring them behind the $10.10 proposal.
Under that provision, small businesses would be able to deduct the total cost of investments in equipment or expansions, up to a maximum of $500,000 in the first year. Including such a provision helped persuade the Senate to vote overwhelmingly in favor of the past two minimum wage increases.