"Unemployment among young people will go up if the minimum wage goes up as President Obama says," freshman Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told CNSNews.com. "Unemployment among Hispanics, among African Americans, among those struggling to get their first job to climb the economic ladder, will go up."
Cruz added that his dad, a Cuban immigrant who worked as a dishwasher, would not have gotten a job if minimum wage increases had been forced on employers.
But the Obama administration disagrees. According to The Wall Street Journal, administration officials think the idea would lead to higher wages for at least 15 million Americans over the next couple of years.
"It could mean the difference between groceries or the food bank; rent or eviction; scraping by or finally getting ahead," Obama said during his speech on Tuesday night. "For businesses across the country, it would mean customers with more money in their pockets. And a whole lot of folks out there would probably need less help from government. In fact, working folks shouldn't have to wait year after year for the minimum wage to go up while CEO pay has never been higher."
It's not a new idea. As a presidential candidate in 2008, Obama proposed raising minimum wage even higher, to $9.50 by 2011, but the proposal didn't gain traction. Minimum wage has remained the same since the summer of 2009, although some cities and states have raised their own wages since then. San Francisco, for instance, has the highest minimum wage in the nation at more than $10 an hour.
Janet Murguía, president and CEO of the National Council of La Raza, the nation's largest Hispanic advocacy organization, applauded the president's suggestion.
"Hardworking Latinos already face a number of barriers to climbing the ladder to basic economic security, which is why lawmakers must push to strengthen and expand the middle class," Murguía said in a statement. "We can do that by investing in our economy and creating a strong, vibrant and healthy Latino workforce."