Democratic congressional candidate Kathleen Rice called on Republican opponent Bruce Blakeman to join her in endorsing a federal minimum wage increase on Monday.
At a news conference in Garden City, Rice, running against Blakeman in New York’s 4th Congressional District, asked him to co-sign a letter she wrote calling on leaders of the U.S. House Committee on Education and Workforce to approve a bipartisan proposal to increase the national minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10.
“When we help low-wage workers earn just a little bit more, we won’t just be helping those workers and their families — we’ll be injecting economic power into communities and small businesses that rely on these employees as customers and as opportunity for business growth and expansion,” said Rice, who serves as Nassau district attorney.
Blakeman campaign spokesman Matt Coleman said the former Nassau presiding officer had no intention of signing the letter, adding that Blakeman released his economic platform months ago. His campaign website touts an economic plan calling for a simplified tax code, reducing “government regulations and red tape,” and repealing the Affordable Care Act
"Bruce Blakeman released an economic plan months ago that will create jobs through the private sector; one that will give people opportunities to have full-time employment with decent benefits,” Coleman said in an e-mail. “Kathleen Rice fails to understand basic economics and, unlike Bruce Blakeman, has not articulated any plan to help our young people find a job or keep full-time employment for our middle-aged residents. In addition, Ms. Rice fails to address the problems such as rising gas prices and higher federal taxes affecting our senior citizens, many who now need to find work just to survive.”
Rice’s campaign spokesman Eric Phillips responded to Coleman’s comments in an e-mail, saying Blakeman “showed us his economic plan when he was the head of the legislature: he raised our county taxes,” referring to a 9 percent tax increase approved by the Republican-majority legislature in 1999 as the county faced a $300 million deficit.
“His new economic plan is to repeal health-care coverage for those with pre-existing conditions, roll back Wall Street regulation to pre-financial crisis levels, and safeguard oil company tax breaks on the backs of kids and parents trying to pay soaring college costs,” Phillips wrote. “With bright ideas like these, it’s no wonder he’s now flat-out refusing to answer where he stands on health-care access for women or the bipartisan proposal to increase the minimum wage."
At Monday’s news conference, Rice noted that other prominent Republicans, including former presidential candidate Mitt Romney and presidential hopeful Rick Santorum, have come out in support of the wage increase. The increase also has the support of the district’s current seat holder and Rice ally Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-Mineola).