Sperling: Higher Minimum Wage Will Allow Some Americans to 'Work Less'

Susan Jones | February 19, 2014 | 8:32am EST
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Gene Sperling is director of the National Economic Council and assistant to the president for economic policy. (AP File Photo)

(CNSNews.com) - Raising the minimum wage to $10.10 by 2016 will help "people who just want to work hard," but it also will help those who want to "work less," White House economic adviser Gene Sperling told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Wednesday.

He argued that Americans support raising the minimum wage because it will lift "struggling" families out of poverty:

"But they also know what it's like to see a friend, a neighbor, where one spouse goes back to work, who would prefer maybe not to work. Maybe they're working part-time just to supplement the family's income. And they think, if that family member is making that sacrifice -- spending less time with the child -- then they should be making a decent living or be able to work less because they're getting a decent wage."

Sperling called an increase to $10.10 a "moderate increase," and he said it means people "will rely less on the government."

"These are people who just want to work hard and support their family. That's why Americans support increasing the minimum wage -- that's why the president supports it."

The director of the Congressional Budget Office recently testified that the subsidies provided by President Obama's health care law may serve as a "disincentive for people to work."

"And by providing heavily subsidized health insurance to people with very low income, and then withdrawing those subsidies as income rises, the (Affordable Care) Act creates a disincentive for people to work, relative to what would have been the case in the absence of that Act," Douglas Elmendorf told the House Budget Committee earlier this month.

Elmendorf added that the subsidies "make those lower-income people better off...but they do have less of an incentive to work."

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