Ryan Speaks Out Against Raising Minimum Wage At Milwaukee Luncheon

Congressman's Remarks Run Counter To Obama's Labor Day Message

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Janesville. Photo: Gage Skidmore (CC-BY-NC-SA).

Speaking on Tuesday to a Press and Rotary Club luncheon in Milwaukee, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., criticized state and local efforts to raise the minimum wage.

The comments run counter to President Barack Obama’s push for a higher minimum wage. Obama told thousands of people at Milwaukee’s Laborfest on Monday that many Americans need a raise. He said that though Congress won’t pass a national increase in the minimum wage, many states — not including Wisconsin — are passing their own increases.

“13 states (and) the District of Columbia, they raised their minimum wages,” he said. “Four more states are putting minimum wage initiatives on the ballot in November.”

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Ryan, however, said at the luncheon that such initiatives are not a good idea.

“Raising the cost of hiring a person in a city or a county or a state versus your neighboring city, county or state is not a good idea,” he said.

Ryan said it would be better to help job creation by lowering the cost of regulations, especially for small businesses. He also wants to boost skills training so people can move up to higher-paying jobs.

Ryan’s opponent in the state’s 1st Congressional District race this fall, Democrat Rob Zerban, supports a boost in the minimum wage. He says it might save taxpayers some money with public assistance programs.

“Heating assistance, housing assistance, food assistance. Because a lot of these employers who are not paying a livable minimum wage —$15 an hour or so —our tax dollars are subsidizing their profits,” said Zerban.

Obama said he’ll “stay on” Congress to raise the minimum wage, which should trigger more debates in Congressional elections this fall.