Just ahead of his State of the Union address where he will push for Congress to raise the minimum wage for all American workers, President Obama took action and issued an executive order to raise the minimum wage for all federal contractors to $10.10 an hour. The order also states that the wage will be indexed to inflation moving forward, therefore it will not be fixed at $10.10 an hour until another measure is passed, but continue to raise throughout the years to keep up with the ever increasing cost of living.
This is a bold and just move by the President and will help put additional pressure on Congress to raise the minimum wage for all workers. While POTUS can utilize executive orders to get some things done within his powers, he does need Congress to act to make sweeping changes to help all Americans. Currently, the American public is firmly on the President’s side of this debate. In recent polls, the vast majority of Americans approve of a minimum wage of $10.10 an hour. Even Republican voters are seeing the light on this issue, as a recent CBS poll showed 52% of GOP voters feel the minimum wage should be raised.
This change for federal contracts will take effect at the beginning of 2015. The beneficiaries of this wage hike will be custodians, low-skilled construction laborers and other service workers. The White House released a statement on Tuesday morning regarding the executive order:
“A higher minimum wage for federal contract workers will provide good value for the federal government and hence good value for the taxpayer. Boosting wages will lower turnover and increase morale, and will lead to higher productivity overall. Raising wages for those at the bottom will improve the quality and efficiency of services provided to the government.”
Expect the President to mention income inequality quite a bit in the SOTU on Tuesday evening. At this point, it appears that he is sick and tired of waiting on Republicans in Congress to act on anything and will be taking a much more aggressive approach to enacting change in 2014. By utilizing executive orders where he can, the President isn’t going to try to play nice with Congress anymore. Throughout his tenure, he has had a wish to work in a bipartisan nature with Republicans, only to have it thrown in his face time and time again.
President Obama knows that House Republicans will never accept him fully as the leader of this country. Conservative pundits will constantly complain about every move he makes. Certain people in this country will hate him solely for his race. He is just not going to win over everyone. But he can lead by example and push for positive change for this country, even if it means pulling some people over kicking and screaming. Expect to see a much more engaged leader in the coming months.