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Advocates for increasing the federal minimum wage call it a "stimulus program" paid for, not by government, but the private sector. Opponents warn of lost jobs and hard times for small business. We hear that some cities, states — and even some big companies — are increasing wages as debate goes on in Washington. Also, Secretary Hagel proposes cuts to the Defense budget. On today's Talking Point, what's next for Ukraine? We hear the latest from Kiev and Moscow.

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Hagel Proposes Cuts to Defense Budget 7 MIN, 50 SEC

Pentagon spending on personnel has skyrocketed since September 11. Robert Gates, former Defense Secretary for both George W. Bush and Barack Obama, calls the inability to reduce it one of his "biggest failures." Now, the current Secretary, former Senator Chuck Hagel, says the time has come. Julian Barnes covers the Pentagon for the Wall Street Journal.

Julian Barnes, Wall Street Journal (@julianbarnes)

Is It Time to Increase the Minimum Wage? 33 MIN, 34 SEC

President Obama wants Congress to "give America a raise." But Republicans say it would be a disaster for small business. But, even if Washington fails to increase the minimum wage, states and cities already are acting on their own, along with a major employer: Gap clothing. The Congressional Budget Office warns a federal hike might cause 500,000 jobs to disappear — at the same time almost a million people could be lifted out of poverty. We look at what's happening around the country and the potential consequences for this year's congressional elections.

Steven Greenhouse, journalist and author (@greenhousenyt)
Clive Crook, Bloomberg View (@clive_crook)
Arun Ivatury, National Employment Law Project (@nelpnews)
Ron Unz, Silicon Valley entrepreneur (@RonUnz1)

Los Angeles' push to raise minimum wage (WWLA discussion)
Crook on the CBO, minimum wage hike and the EITC
Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
Greenhouse on Gap increasing minimum wage
Greenhouse's 'The Big Squeeze: Tough Times for the American Worker'
NELP on why New York should let cities, counties enact higher local minimum wages
Unz on minimum wage debate

The Big Squeeze

Steven Greenhouse

Turmoil in Ukraine Brings a Challenge to Russia 9 MIN, 47 SEC

Over the weekend, the Ukrainian Parliament ousted President Viktor Yanukovych, who fled to the Eastern part of the country, raising fears that the country might come apart, with half leaning toward Western Europe and half toward traditional ties with Russia. We get an update from Andrew Kramer, who is in Kiev for the New York Times, and from Fred Weir of the Christian Science Monitor, who's in Moscow, which is questioning the new government's legitimacy.

Andrew Kramer, New York Times (@AndrewKramerNYT)
Fred Weir, Christian Science Monitor (@fredweir3)

National Security Advisor Rice discusses Ukraine on 'Meet the Press'

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