Minimum wage would be $22 per hour if it kept pace with worker productivity, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D) of Massachusetts noted in a committee hearing last week. The self-avowed liberal is about to be the senior senator from the Bay State, despite having served only a few months.
Candidates are already lining up for the special election to fill the seat recently vacated by John Kerry.
Two of the candidates used the annual St. Patrick's Day Breakfast in Boston on Sunday to trade friendly jabs.
Rep. Edward Markey said that just as President Obama released his birth certificate in response to questions, he and Rep. Stephen Lynch will release the long forms of their birth certificates.
Mr. Markey, the longest serving House member from Massachusetts, said his birth certificate will show he was born in Congress.
He said the birth certificate of Mr. Lynch, a union ironworker before he entered politics, shows he was born with his work boots on in a manger he welded himself.
Markey also took aim at the national GOP, saying it was expanding its ranks by reaching out to numerous country clubs and yacht clubs.
"From the greens to the fairways, it's truly a grass-roots effort," he said.
Lynch said the special election will be historic regardless of who wins the Democrat primary.
"I will either be the first ironworker elected to the US Senate or Ed Markey will be the first ice-cream driver elected to the US Senate," Lynch said, referring to Markey's references to his working-class background that included a stint as an ice-cream truck driver.
Norfolk state Rep. Daniel Winslow, one of the three Republicans seeking their party's nomination for the Senate seat, greeted members of the audience. He said he received a late invitation to speak but needed to leave to march in Holyoke's St. Patrick's Day parade.
Senator Warren was a speaker at the breakfast, as were Mayor Thomas Menino, state House Speaker Robert DeLeo, and former Republican Gov. William Weld.
Mr. Weld cast himself as the prodigal son returning from New York. Borrowing a tune from "The Wild Rover," he sang, "Will I live in Manhattan again, no never, no more."
In addition to Mr. Winslow, other Republicans seeking their party's nomination include former US Attorney Michael Sullivan and former Navy SEAL Gabriel Gomez.
The primaries are scheduled for April 30, and the special election is set for June 25.
Mr. Kerry resigned from the Senate to become US secretary of State.