(MCT) — Iowa Congressman Bruce Braley took aim at state Sen. Joni Ernst over her opposition to the federal minimum wage during a visit to the Ames Tribune on Wednesday.
Braley, a Democrat, and Ernst, a Republican, are locked in a dead heat for the seat currently occupied by Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin, whose retirement this year will mark the first time in four decades that an open Senate seat will appear on an Iowa ballot.
The congressman has made his support for increasing the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour and indexing it to inflation the focus of his campaign this week.
The proposal builds on a television advertisement his campaign released at the end of July that calls Ernst’s position on the issue an “extreme idea.”
“(Raising the minimum wage) would pump over $250 million in new income into the state economy,” Braley said. “That’s a significant impact on the Iowa economy, because people who are working minimum wage jobs take that money and they spend it (on) necessities: food, shelter, clothing, fuel.”
The figure Braley cited was taken from a report released in February by the liberal Center for American Progress Action Fund and Progress Iowa.
The report found that raising the minimum wage to $10.10 would create more than $272 million in additional gross domestic product for the state economy and increase the pay of 300,000 Iowans — another figure Braley pointed out.
Ernst spokeswoman Gretchen Hamel did not respond to a request for comment on various remarks Braley made during his visit Wednesday.
But Ernst has repeatedly stated on the campaign trail that she believes minimum wage decisions should be left to individual states and that Iowa’s minimum wage is appropriate.
The minimum wage is currently $7.25 both federally and in Iowa.
Republicans opposed to a minimum wage hike have argued that it would hurt small businesses.
They have also pointed to a Congressional Budget Office report released in February that found while raising the minimum wage to $10.10 would increase the family incomes of most low-wage workers, it would also cost roughly 500,000 workers their jobs by the time it was fully implemented.
©2014 the Ames Tribune, Iowa
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