Vice President Joe Biden joined Los Angeles politicians Tuesday to throw his support behind Mayor Eric Garcetti's plan to raise the minimum wage.
"No one in America should be working 40 hours a week and living below the poverty level -- no one," Biden said in opening remarks before a roundtable discussion on the issue at a bakery in Lincoln Heights.
Biden said though the economy is recovering, the middle class is "being clobbered." He called a minimum wage increase the building block of a stronger economy, and the "bare minimum that we should be doing to re-establish economic growth in this country."
"We have a measured approach that is bold. It is specific," Garcetti said.
Later in the morning, a group of City Council members proposed that the city study whether to speed the gradual increase outlined by the mayor -- which would boost the wage to $13.25 by 2017 -- so that it would hit $15.25 by 2019.
Los Angeles, Garcetti said, is currently a city "where too many people can't live the American dream of working hard, keeping a job and supporting their families."
Biden agreed that raising the city's minimum wage will create new jobs, and increase aggregate capital available in Los Angeles by $1.8 billion. He said the money would go back into the economy because people would spend it by necessity, and that the notion that raising the minimum wage is counterproductive "just belies the facts."
Biden cited President Obama's plan to raise the national minimum wage to $10.10, which has stalled in Congress. He emphasized that raising the minimum wage speeds, not slows, economic growth and does not cost jobs, but instead creates them as more money flows back into the economy. He also said it's good for business, because it generates loyalty, reduces turnover and increases productivity.
Biden joked that he's often referred to as Middle Class Joe. "In Washington, that is not meant as a compliment," he said.
He went on to say that he talks about the middle class so much because "when the middle class does well, the wealthy do very well, and the poor have a shot."
The roundtable discussion held at the L.A. Baking Co. also included L.A. Councilmen Herb Wesson and Gil Cedillo, Congressman Xavier Becerra, Congresswoman Judy Chu, Congresswoman Janice Hahn, Congresswoman Grace Napolitano and Congresswoman Maxine Waters.