Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey and potential Republican candidate for the 2016 presidential election, is facing criticism after he declared on Tuesday that he is "tired of hearing about the minimum wage."
"You know what regular folks are tired of?" asked Maria Myotte, communications coordinator for Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, in an interview with Common Dreams. "Working full-time and still living in poverty."
Addressing the Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C., Christie stated, “I'm tired of hearing about the minimum wage. I really am. I don't think there's a mother or a father sitting around the kitchen table tonight in America saying, ‘You know, honey, if our son or daughter could just make a higher minimum wage, my God, all of our dreams would be realized.’”
He added, "Is that what parents aspire to for our children? They aspire to a greater, growing America, where their children have the ability to make much more money and have much great success than they have, and that's not about a higher minimum wage."
During the address, which he delivered while on a break from his national tour campaigning for GOP governors, Christie also took on other topics, slamming the Affordable Care Act as well as teachers' unions. He said, "We are saps for the teachers' union. It's time to start offending them."
"Anyone who's able to brush the concerns and frustrations of millions of workers off the way Christie did is certainly out of touch with what everyday Americans are dealing with," said Myotte. "We need a leader who will fight for us instead of corporations, that means holding all employers accountable to providing their employees with a livable wage."
Christie's statements come amid a growing mobilization from fast food, Walmart, and other workers for a higher minimum wage and the right to unionize and organize in their workplaces. Meanwhile, numerous reports find that income inequality in the U.S. is reaching historically high levels.
Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet L. Yellen recently declared that the past several decades "have seen the most sustained rise in inequality since the 19th century."
According to Pew Poll findings released last month, 56 percent of Americans say their family’s incomes can not match living costs, 45 percent say that they have experienced at least one severe financial hardship over the past year, and 79 percent say their financial future looks poor or fair.
A study conducted earlier this year by the 2014 Assets and Opportunities Scorecard finds that nearly half of all people in the United States live paycheck to paycheck, without the savings to get them through a financial emergency, from medical problems to a broken car.