Let's shake things up here in Prince George's County, you all ready to go? (applause)
It is wonderful to be here with all of you, wasn't the President outstanding last night? (applause)
That's what it's all about. It is the great work of our time, the work of restoring our economy so that we advance that opportunity agenda, so that when we work hard we can get ahead and make a better world for our kids.
Let's give it up for Maryland's own Tom Perez!
Tom, this is like Deja vu all over again. Tom was our labor secretary, now he is the labor secretary for the entire United States of America. To paraphrase a great patriot, I regret that I have but one Cabinet to give to my country.
We're joined by a number of Congress people here, great leaders, United States Senator Ben Cardin, also Congresswoman Donna Edwards.
I know what it's like to have a warm-up act: You want to see the main act. But, the President asked me to speak for five minutes. Secretary Perez outlined so very well and made the argument for why it is that we all do better when we're all doing better. Right? I mean, we have been sold for the better part of the last thirty years this phony economic theory of trickledown economics. And the thought was that if you just concentrate wealth at the top, in a few people's hands, that somehow that would make a great cloud emerge and jobs would come raining down. Well that didn't happen, did it? (crowd replies "No!")
And it has never happened. What our parents and grandparents understood is that we need to better educate every generation. We need to invest in the great engine of opportunity that is the United States of America. And, the most important progress we make is the progress that creates jobs and ladders of opportunity. Let me just run through a few of the things that you have done as Marylanders over these last few years:
Even though we have cut every other aspect of State Government, we have invested more, not less, in education. And for five years in a row we've had the best schools in the United States.
No state has done a better job in holding down the cost of college tuition. Why do we do that? Because when we make college more affordable for more people, the more a person learns, the more a person earns, and the better that is for our economy.
As Tom mentioned, we were the first state to pass a living wage statute.
We've also recently started to invest a lot more in transportation and infrastructure, to get our people back to work.
We have the highest minority and women business goal of any state in America, and we actually surpassed it this year.
And, we've put in place not only a progressive income tax, which lowered income taxes for 86 percent of Marylanders, but we also increased--by 25 percent--the earned income tax credit to reward hard work--for people who wake up early every single day and work hard to give their kids a better future.
Now, as a result of those things, when the latest job numbers came out in December, Maryland, since the depths of this Recession, has led every state in the mid-Atlantic region in new job creation! (applause)
And, Maryland was named one of the top three states in the nation for upward economic mobility.
That's what it's all about it. And while it is right for us to consider ourselves the most important star in the flag, we are one star among the fifty states and we all rise and fall together. So that's why it's so important that we be about the business that the President called us to last night, which is to build our economy from the middle out and the middle up. The guys that pushed the trickledown economics, the ones that ran our economy into the ditch, they would like to believe that somehow this is a fantasy world and trickle down works. It doesn't.
What makes our economy grow is a stronger middle class. I mean, think about it. When workers are paid more, businesses have better customers. When workers are able to earn a decent wage, they become able to buy the products that they actually make, or purchase the services that they provide. So that's why in Maryland, this year, together we are going to raise the minimum wage to $10.10! (applause)
That's why in Maryland, this year, we are going to continue to lead in terms of our economic recovery. The President was so right last night in talking about raising the minimum wage. And the fact of the matter is--Donna Edwards has a button that says this--when women succeed, America succeeds. And if you look at our state, and all the states throughout the United States, the vast majority of workers who are earning a minimum wage are women. Very often they are supporting a child on their own, possibly two, often times working 16-hour days. No one who works that hard in our country should have to raise their child in poverty. We can do better than that! (applause)
So raising the minimum wage is not only important for the millions of workers who will directly benefit, it is important for them and it is good for them, but it is important and good for us too because it is good for our whole economy. When our middle class grows, our economy grows. When our middle class is doing better, when the ladders of opportunity are real and people can move up and make a better way for their children and for their families, that's what makes our economy grow.
Our parents and our grandparents understood that the stronger we make our country, the more she gives back to us, and the more she gives back to our children and grandchildren. So that's what this fight is all about. As a nation, we can raise the minimum wage. If it had just kept pace with inflation since 1968, it would already be $10.72. So certainly, we can do better. You guys ready? You fired up? (applause)
Repeat after me: "It's time to raise the wage!" (crowd chants)
And here in Maryland we say yes we can and yes we will!
Thanks very much!