January 28 2014
Ruling by Pen Begins: POTUS Raises Contractor Minimum Wage
Patrice J. Lee
The White House announced that POTUS plans to raise the minimum wage unilaterally for some federal contractor workers from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour in an effort to build momentum for a national minimum wage hike for all Americans. It is President Obama's first such executive action after his boast about ruling with his pen and phone, and it is certainly the first of many such actions to come.
This order will cover people who are performing services, such as janitors or construction workers, and are making less than $10.10 per hour. While it sounds like a big move the scope is limited and will not affect the entire universe of federal contractors.
Fox New reports:
The executive order, which had been pushed by progressive Democratic lawmakers, applies to all contractors performing services for the federal government and would affect more than 2 million employees, according to an administration official.
The president will use Tuesday night's address to press Congress to pass a Democratic plan to increase the federal wage to $10.10 over three years, then indexing it to inflation, while also raising the minimum wage for tipped workers, the official said.
The president, who does not have the power to unilaterally raise the minimum wage for private sector workers, also used last year's State of the Union speech to call for a federal minimum wage hike.
The new executive order affects only future contracts, not existing ones, and would only apply to contract renewals if other terms of the agreement changed. As a result, the order would benefit far fewer workers than the number foreseen by advocates of federal contract employees.
In his address, Obama will also make it clear he is prepared to take executive action in a variety of areas if Congress -- including the Republican-run House -- does not pass legislation. In addition to the minimum wage, he is expected to announce executive actions on job training and assistance to the long-term unemployed.
What we’re seeing is the President flexing his executive muscle, but when you look closely there isn’t a lot of muscle to expend here. This order applies to future contracts (not existing ones). However, he is sending the message to Congress that they should make the next move in raising the national minimum wage since he can’t do it himself.
This is the first executive order since the President announced his policy of ruling by the pen. We can expect many more executive orders from a president who can’t seem to get things done by other means. Last year he pushed an ambitious agenda that stalled (other than ObamaCare and that had been set in motion almost four years ago). Gun control fizzled out, immigration reform went nowhere, and universal pre-K is still a nice sounding idea.
Earlier this year the President said 2014 would be a year of action. Now we’re seeing he meant him acting alone.