President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden resurrected the Democratic Party's push to hike the minimum wage on Labor Day, just two months ahead of the midterms. They also criticized Republicans over congressional gridlock and obstructionism.
Obama — joined in Milwaukee by an army of union leaders to mark Labor Day — positioned Democrats as the party of the middle class, and he championed policies like Obamacare, higher wages and equal pay for women.
“The policies I’m talking about have two things in common: They’re going to help more working families get ahead, and the Republicans who run our Congress oppose almost all of them,” Obama said, drawing boos from the crowd at the mention of the GOP, according to a transcript of the president's remarks.
“Don’t boo; vote. It’s easy to boo – I want you to vote,” Obama said. “I am just telling the truth. The sky is blue today. Milwaukee brats are delicious. The Brewers are tied for first place. And Republicans in Congress love to say no. Those are just facts, they’re facts of life. They say no to everything.”
The GOP is aiming to hold the House and take control of the Senate control this fall. Democrats are fighting to hold them off, pushing economic issues like equal pay for women and hiking the minimum wage. After Senate Republicans blocked a minimum wage bill earlier this year, the issue stalled in Congress, but Monday's addresses may put it back on the map.
Biden — speaking in Detroit, where unions had a long history of creating middle-class jobs until the auto industry crashed — championed organized labor and the economic issues Democrats are promoting ahead of the midterm elections, renewing the party’s push for a minimum wage and equal pay.
“Productivity in America is up 36%, but wages, wages have gone up 15 cents,” Biden said. “Folks, there’s something wrong with this picture.”
He tied the decline of unions to the decline of the middle class.
“The middle class is in real trouble now,” he said, blaming the “new Republican party” for hurting unions and the middle class while lifting up the wealthy.
“This new Republican Party has everybody asking questions like, are unions too strong? You hear a question like, are corporations overtaxed — what the hell are we talking about?” Biden said. “We’ve go to start asking the right questions."