As Promised, Obama Uses His Mighty Pen to Set a Minimum Wage for Federal Contractors

obama signing

President Obama means what he says. When will Republicans ever learn?

Since Republicans refuse to legislate anything that might remotely help the middle class and working class, President Obama vowed during his State of the Union address to take to pen and phone to do what he legally can do without Congress. So it is that today he signed an executive order to raise the minimum wage for federal contractors.

The President said in the East Room at the signing, “Now, it’s been just over two weeks since I delivered my State of the Union address, and I said this year would be a year of action, and I meant it. Over the past 14 days I’ve ordered an across-the-board reform of our job training programs to train folks with the skills that employers need, and then match them up with good jobs that are ready to be filled right now…

So while Congress decides what it’s going to do — and I hope this year, and I’m going to work this year and urge this year that they actually pass a law — today, I’m going to do what I can to help raise working Americans’ wages.

So today, I’m issuing an executive order requiring federal contractors to pay their employees a fair wage of at least $10.10 an hour — $10.10 an hour.”

Before conservatives freak out, the President has purview over federal contractors. Sadly for the rest of America, the President can’t just sign an EO to raise the minimum wage for them. Only Congress can do that.

The EO opens by citing his authority to take this action, “By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act, 40 U.S.C. 101 et seq., and in order to promote economy and efficiency in procurement by contracting with sources who adequately compensate their workers, it is hereby ordered as follows…”

The executive order increasing the minimum wage for federal contractors to $10.10. Obama basically established this minimum wage first, rather than really “raising” it, though it’s seen that way — and he also made sure that the wages would rise in the future, writing, “beginning January 1, 2016, and annually thereafter, an amount determined by the Secretary of Labor (Secretary).”

This raise to the minimum wage for federal contractors will be:

(A) not less than the amount in effect on the
date of such determination;
(B) increased from such amount by the annual
percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index
for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers
(United States city average, all items, not
seasonally adjusted), or its successor
2
publication, as determined by the Bureau of
Labor Statistics; and
(C) rounded to the nearest multiple of $0.05.

While this order will “only” impact around 300,000 government workers, imagine if Obama could implement his agenda for the rest of the country. The President is hoping his action will push Congress to up the minimum wage for everyone from $7.25 to $10.10.

While critics of raising the minimum wage – who are never living on the minimum wage — say that raising the minimum wage will kill jobs, NBC News points out, “(T)he Council of Economic Advisers is expected to release a new analysis that shows that raising the minimum wage will benefit the economy — and won’t kill jobs.”

Raising the wage would increase incomes for an estimated 12 million Americans now living in poverty, according to an advance copy of the economic report. Two million of those people would be lifted out of poverty, the report claimed.

According to the report, 64 studies of minimum wage increases also found “no discernable effect on employment.”

Obama’s already building a legacy of caring for the middle and working class, but things could be so much better under him if only the Republicans had not vowed to obstruct everything he tries to do.

The President is waging his mighty pen, even though Republicans are screaming “dictator”. Obama knows that the only things that will get done for the people will come from either Democrats in Congress when they can, or his pen.

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