Minimum Wage: John Boehner, Mitch McConnell Give Raise A Cold Shoulder

02/13/2013 11:39 am ET | Updated Feb 13, 2013

WASHINGTON -- The two top Republicans in the country gave President Barack Obama's proposal to raise the minimum wage a cool reception on Wednesday, suggesting it would harm low-wage workers.

The president called on lawmakers in his State of the Union address to boost the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $9 an hour, and index it to inflation.

Boehner heard the call and didn't like it.

"I've been dealing with the minimum wage issue for the last 28 years that I've been in elected office," Boehner told reporters at a press conference, arguing that raising the minimum wage would hurt people trying to climb the "ladders of opportunity" that Obama mentioned in his speech.

"When you raise the price of employment, guess what happens? You get less of it. At a time when Americans are still asking the question, 'where are the jobs?' why would we want to make it harder for small employers to hire people?" he said.

"A lot of people who are being paid the minimum wage are being paid that because they come to the workforce with no skills," Boehner said. "And this makes it harder for them to acquire the skills they need in order to climb that ladder successfully."

"Listen, 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 added. "And what happens when you take away the first couple of rungs on the economic ladder, you make it harder for people to get on the ladder. Our goal is to get people on the ladder and help them climb that ladder so they can live the American dream.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called Obama's overall speech "pedestrian, liberal boilerplate," and also seemed unimpressed with the president's focus on people at the bottom. "He spoke of workers' minimum wages, instead of their maximum potential," McConnell said.

Obama did talk about creating opportunities through education, but he also argued that having a full-time job should not leave someone in poverty, and that raising the minimum wage would solve that problem. "This single step would raise the incomes of millions of working families," Obama said.

"We need to build new ladders of opportunity into the middle class for all who are willing to climb them," he said.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who delivered the Republican response to the State of the Union, also expressed opposition.

"I don't think a minimum-wage law works," Rubio said on "CBS This Morning." "I want people to make a lot more than $9. Nine dollars is not enough. The problem is that you can't do that by mandating it in the minimum-wage laws. Minimum-wage laws have never worked in terms of helping the middle class attain more prosperity.

"A minimum-wage law, as good as it may sound at the outset, is not the way to do it," he added.

Other Republicans had similar reactions immediately following the State of the Union address.

Dan Pfeiffer, a senior adviser at the White House, quickly shot back at Republicans, tweeting "If the GOP is opposed to raising the minimum wage, what is their plan to ensure people who work full time don't live in poverty?

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