TN Republican congressmen don’t want a minimum wage increase

Tennessee’s Republican congressmen, Michael Collins reports, are against President Obama’s proposal to raise the minimum wage.

U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann blasted the president’s push to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour from $7.25 per hour and called it “a smoke-screen or a diversion” on the part of an administration “that has consistently failed to produce jobs.”

“I firmly believe in the free market,” said Fleischmann, whose congressional seat stretches from Anderson County to Chattanooga’s Hamilton County. “If we can go out and have tax reform and tort reform and create jobs in the private sector and get credit moving, the demand for jobs will increase on its own and raises will rise, based on the demand for workers. That’s the way it ought to work.”

U.S. Rep. John J. Duncan Jr., who calls Knoxville home, said that while he has supported minimum wage increases in the past, the hourly wage hike pushed by Obama and congressional Democrats of 39 percent is too large.

“I don’t believe it’s a good idea to come in with a big increase at a time when so many people are still out of work or so many have given up looking for work,” Duncan said. “I think this is too big of an increase in too short of a time.”

The last increase in the federal minimum wage was in July 2009, when it rose 10.7 percent from $6.55 an hour to the current $7.25.

President Obama first called on Congress to raise the minimum wage during his State of Union address in 2013, arguing it would boost the incomes of millions of working families and would be good for business since consumers would have more money to spend.

…U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, R-Johnson City, makes the same argument.

“With the workforce participation rate hovering around a 40-year low at 63 percent, now is the wrong time for a minimum wage increase,” he said. “If President Obama truly wants to help the economy, he should act on the most important aspect of economic growth: job creation.”