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No brainer: Three reasons why a $10.10 minimum wage is good for America

By Gov. Peter Shumlin and Gov. Dan Malloy
March 5, 2014 -- Updated 1159 GMT (1959 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Democratic Govs. Shumlin and Malloy support raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10
  • They argue it hasn't increased in real dollars since 1968
  • Republican governors, they say, have stood in the way of or tried to roll back the minimum wage

Editor's note: Gov. Peter Shumlin (D-Vermont) is chair of the Democratic Governors' Association and Gov. Dan Malloy (D-Connecticut) is in his first term running the state.

(CNN) -- Democratic governors are working every day to grow and strengthen a middle class that's been under assault from global economic forces and failed, trickle-down policies for decades.

In furtherance of that mission, we will be proud to stand with President Barack Obama, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee at Central Connecticut State University this afternoon to announce actions we're taking to raise the minimum wage in our states to $10.10 an hour by 2017.

House Republicans continue to block progress on this critical issue for middle class families. But that doesn't mean this common-sense idea, like so many others before it, needs to die a Washington-inflicted death. With a paralyzed Congress, Democratic governors will act.

We'll do so with the benefit of having the American people on our side. Democrats, Republicans and independents alike overwhelmingly support raising the minimum wage. A recent Wall Street Journal/NBC poll shows 63% of Americans support it. Here's why:

Gov. Peter Shumlin, left, and Gov. Dan Malloy
Gov. Peter Shumlin, left, and Gov. Dan Malloy

One, it makes good economic sense. The federal minimum wage is currently $7.25 an hour. Adjusted for inflation, that's lower than it was in 1968. Raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour nationally will provide 28 million Americans with more money to spend and to invest, increasing economic activity and growth. In fact, recent studies conclude that raising the minimum wage makes workers more productive and therefore helps businesses retain profitability -- a conclusion affirmed by Gap Inc.'s recent decision to raise the minimum wage for its employees to $10.10 an hour.

Two, it's good for women. Women account for roughly two-thirds of workers whose incomes would rise by increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. These women currently work 40 hours a week to make just $14,500 a year. These women are our daughters, sisters and mothers who are often the only breadwinners in their families. Our country is in a stronger position when women are in a stronger economic position. We need to make that a reality.

Three, it's the right thing to do. No American working 40 hours or more a week deserves to live in poverty.

Republican governors across the country have also stood in the way of progress. Some have pandered to stereotype, suggesting that a raise in the minimum wage should be rejected because it would only help young workers rather than acknowledging that 88% of workers who would be affected by moving the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour are over the age of 20, and more are over the age of 55 than are teenagers.

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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez went so far as to veto minimum wage hikes in their states. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker mocked the idea, while Florida Gov. Rick Scott described how the proposal makes him "cringe." Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett and Maine Gov. Paul LePage all oppose this common-sense change. And of course there is billionaire Bruce Rauner, running in Illinois, who went so far as to suggest slashing minimum wage workers' salaries by a dollar an hour in order to keep the state "competitive."

They just don't get it.

Just look at Bobby Jindal, former Republican Governors Association chair and current governor of Louisiana, who recently said -- in a widely-criticized partisan outburst outside the White House -- that raising the minimum wage was equivalent to "waving the white flag of surrender" on the economy. That's patently absurd. But it's what the tea party wants to hear.

A fair minimum wage was once an issue upon which Republican and Democratic leaders could agree. But now, the Republican Congress and Republican governors have embraced partisanship and right-wing ideology rather than economic growth.

And that's why we are standing with President Obama today to make clear we won't wait for Republicans to come around -- we're going to give hard-working Americans a raise and we are going to start today.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook.com/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Gov. Peter Shumlin and Gov. Dan Malloy.

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