Obama Will Raise the Minimum Wage, but on a Small Scale

A new executive order increases the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour for just several hundred thousand workers.

National Journal
Jan. 28, 2014, 3:41 a.m.

Pres­id­ent Obama is plan­ning to uni­lat­er­ally go after one of the more pop­u­lar pro­pos­als in his State of the Uni­on: rais­ing the min­im­um wage, if only for a lim­ited num­ber of work­ers.

The pres­id­ent will sign an ex­ec­ut­ive or­der that raises the min­im­um wage for fed­er­al con­tract­ors from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour, the White House an­nounced on Tues­day morn­ing, just hours be­fore the State of the Uni­on.

But here’s the catch: The ex­ec­ut­ive or­der will only af­fect sev­er­al hun­dred thou­sand work­ers, as op­posed to the 21 mil­lion who would see their wages in­creased if Con­gress passed a full fed­er­al in­crease. The or­der be­ne­fits work­ers in the per­form­ing ser­vices and con­struc­tion, along with work­ers at mil­it­ary bases who work in dish-wash­ing, food ser­vice, and laun­dry.

Rais­ing the min­im­um wage is wildly pop­u­lar in the United States. A re­cent Pew poll shows that 73 per­cent of Amer­ic­ans are in fa­vor of rais­ing the fed­er­al min­im­um wage for all work­ers. And those num­bers are strong across party lines. Some 90 per­cent of Demo­crats sup­port the hike, along with 71 per­cent of in­de­pend­ents and 53 per­cent of Re­pub­lic­ans. An NBC News poll re­leased on Tues­day also shows that a ma­jor­ity of Amer­ic­ans think the pres­id­ent’s pro­pos­al to in­crease the min­im­um wage should be a pri­or­ity this year.

In last year’s State of the Uni­on, the pres­id­ent pro­posed a bill to in­crease the min­im­um wage to $9 an hour. Pro­pos­als in Con­gress, however, have failed to gain any trac­tion, as many Re­pub­lic­an law­makers have ar­gued that a raise in the min­im­um wage would stifle busi­ness and hurt job cre­ation.

In an­noun­cing this latest ex­ec­ut­ive ac­tion, the White House still pro­moted a bill that would boost the fed­er­al min­im­um wage to $10.10 an hour, and said the pres­id­ent will work with Con­gress to get the bill passed. Wheth­er that can hap­pen is an­oth­er is­sue.

Pro­gress­ives in Con­gress have been pres­sur­ing the pres­id­ent to take ac­tion on the min­im­um wage uni­lat­er­ally for some time. Back in Decem­ber, Con­gres­sion­al Pro­gress­ive Caucus Co­chair­man Keith El­lis­on, a Min­nesota Demo­crat, hand-de­livered a let­ter to the pres­id­ent ask­ing him to sign an ex­ec­ut­ive or­der. It’s un­clear, however, if this latest ac­tion by the pres­id­ent will totally sat­is­fy the lib­er­al end of his base.

What is clear, though, is that the pres­id­ent is will­ing to by­pass Con­gress to go after some of his agenda items, at least on small scales. The pres­id­ent on Tues­day night is ex­pec­ted to an­nounce oth­er ex­ec­ut­ive ac­tions that will not re­quire con­gres­sion­al ap­prov­al.

What We're Following See More »
$19B INCLUDES NO IMMIGRATION-RELATED MONEY
Congress, White House Reach Disaster Aid Deal
6 hours ago
THE LATEST
OFFERED $16M IN LOANS FOR ADMINISTRATION JOB
Banker Indicted in New York for Bribery Scheme with Manafort
9 hours ago
THE LATEST
ANOTHER FIVE YEARS
Modi Wins Reelection as India's PM
9 hours ago
THE DETAILS
FAMILY WILL JOIN HIM
Trump Headed to UK Next Month
10 hours ago
THE LATEST
FEDERAL JUDGE WON'T BLOCK SUBPOENA OF BANK RECORDS
Trump Loses in Court Again
1 days ago
THE LATEST
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login