January 28th, 2014
06:00 AM ET
9 months ago

Obama to raise minimum wage for federal contractors

(CNN) - While President Barack Obama’s attempts to increase the nation’s minimum wage through legislation have stalled in Congress, the White House announced plans on Tuesday to use the president’s executive powers to partially address the problem.

Just hours before the President is scheduled to deliver his fifth State of the Union address, the White House revealed that Obama will issue an executive order to increase the minimum wage for new federal contract workers.

The action will cover all workers employed under future government contracts, ensuring that none is paid less than $10.10 an hour. In a fact sheet announcing the action, the White House highlighted several occupations that will be helped by the move, including kitchen and laundry workers on military bases, as well as janitors at federal buildings and construction workers at government building sites.

“The President has embraced the idea in the past that he can use his authority as President and the powers available to the President to advance his agenda on behalf of the American people,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said at his briefing on Monday. “What we have said is that he views 2014 as a year of action and that he has tasked his team to come up with new ways in which we can - he can - advance that agenda.”

An administration official confirmed the action will only apply to new contracts, and the White House believes contractors will have time to factor the new wage requirements into future bids.

Included in Tuesday’s announcement was a call for Congress to pass an increase in the minimum wage nationwide and an endorsement of a proposal put forward by two senior Democrats, Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa and Rep. George Miller of California. The proposal would raise the minimum wage for all workers in stages, ultimately reaching $10.10 an hour, while also indexing the wage floor to inflation going forward.

Tuesday morning, House Speaker John Boehner pushed back against the executive action by the President.

"This idea that he's just going to go it alone, I have to remind him we do have a constitution. And the Congress writes the laws, and the President's job is to execute the laws faithfully. And if he tries to ignore this he's going to run into a brick wall," the top Republican in the House told reporters.

"Were just not going to sit here and let the President trample all over us," Boehner added.

The White House says the President has the authority to make the move.

Cecilia Muñoz, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, said in an interview Tuesday with CNN Senior White House Correspondent Jim Acosta that the President "clearly has the authority" to raise the minimum wage for federal contract workers.

Obama has made wages and economic inequality a central theme of his second term in office, raising the issue repeatedly, including during a call for an extension of emergency unemployment benefits in his first public event of 2014.

“America is getting stronger, and we've made progress,” the President said. “And the economy is growing, and we've got to do more to make sure that all Americans share in that growth. We've got to help our businesses create more jobs. We've got to make sure those jobs offer the wages and benefits that let families rebuild a little security. In other words, we've got to make sure that this recovery leaves nobody behind. And we've got a lot of work to do on that front.”

Two national polls conducted in the past two weeks both indicate widespread support for raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. Seventy-two percent of those questioned in a CBS News survey and 73% of those questioned in a Pew Research Center poll said they favor the move. Both surveys indicated a partisan divide, with around nine in ten Democrats and seven in ten independents in support of raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, and Republicans divided.

CNN's Jim Acosta, Brianna Keilar, Dana Bash and Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.

soundoff (545 Responses)
  1. Kenman

    The headline should be he flexes OUR muscle, because he's taking it upon himself to tax US more to pay the federal employees that WE are taxed to pay!

    AND, I doubt it's even a genuine issue in the cases mentioned, as I doubt any "construction workers at government building sites" aren't making much more than $10.10 per hour! This is probably another purely political ploy with ulterior motives that can't be revealed in their White House propaganda managed by this network!

    January 28, 2014 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  2. Nick in Milwaukee

    Ok, so the idea sounds great, but if the employer is still holding all the cards, do you think that raising the minimum wage is really going to improve these people's livelihood?
    There have been many posts about how this could reduce opportunities for that 1st job for people to gain skills and move up, many fry jobs and others will turn to automation if the costs don't warrant a person over a machine.
    Furthermore, for anyone who is required to be offered benefits by their employer, they just raise the amount you have to pay for insurance by the amount of the salary increase, and voila, no change to the working man's bottom line.

    The real issue – that this Executive Order, and for that matter the minimum wage conversation in general, doesn't address – is lack of opportunities in employment right now. This country doesn't need as many people to work in an assembly line as it did, and we haven't created similar paying opportunities elsewhere in the economy (retail/service pays lower).

    January 28, 2014 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  3. Bill

    @TheBigT-

    Funny how all those deep red states take the lions share of Federal aid. I guess that is not big government. And when disaster strikes, they are the first to ask for, you guessed it, government help. You can not have it both ways. Wake up or get out.

    January 28, 2014 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  4. Malory Archer

    KeninTexas

    Why isn't the congress taking Obama to court for some of his shenanigans? He's making up laws as he goes, and ignoring laws that he's supposed to be enforcing. Come on congress, do your job.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    During the first five years of his reign of error, the previous occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue signed 174 executive orders.

    President Clinton signed 164 in his first five years.

    G. H. W. Bush signed 166 during his FOUR years in office, and rightwing god raygun singed 256 executive orders during his first five years in office.

    To date, President Obama has signed 167 executive orders. He isn't doing anything his predecessors didn't do before him and in fact, with the exception of Bill Clinton, he's actually doing it less than them. Did you have a problem with them, or is this just another double standard?

    January 28, 2014 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  5. smitvict

    Now that Obama has forced a cost increase onto federal contractors, can they re-negotiate their contracts with the government to reflect these mandated increased costs?

    January 28, 2014 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  6. sewmadd

    Muscle????? What muscle.....he is a Casper Milque Toast....

    January 28, 2014 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  7. TomGI

    6 years and still waiting for something good for my middle class family from Obama. One thing I am grateful for is no war with Iran but that's about it

    January 28, 2014 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  8. Ovawendon

    It would be better if that minimum wage went to everyone, not just government workers/contractors. However, it is a beginning. If we would provide training for people on the job at a lower rate and allowed them to move up the ladder when fully trained it would help. Companies ignoring the long term unemployed does not help, they are overlooking some of the best workers out there and forgetting that they are unemployed because of nothing they did. I was unemployed for almost 2 years. The first year I never even got a call, interview, anything. Even in the first few months of my unemployment. I did take temp jobs and jobs with a much lower pay rate to stay working, but kept getting laid off. Now I found a job that started as part time and is now full time, but I am making about $12,000 per year less than before, but I am working. My unemployment was more than my weekly rate even! Such a shame that so many feel those who are unemployed are lazy and irresponsible. I never gave up and even though I am not where I was, I do have a job, and the biggest benefit of all is that I actually like this job. Raising the minimum wage will not hurt employers, it will help in the long run because people will have more money to put back into the economy and that relates to companies getting more profits, and the cycle would/could be fulfilling for everyone. Unfortunately our current House of Representatives believes only in blocking anything that would help our country. I think they want us to become a third world country. Vote will this next year! Vote informed! Make good choices not just for yourself, but for the greater good of all!

    January 28, 2014 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  9. Bilderberg Shadows...

    Do you yankee doodles have any clue about economics? Do you understand the principles of supply and demand? Do you understand how the equilibrium in any given market will correct itself based on the supply of given product versus the demand in the market place for that product? Raising minimum wage? LMAO. Why don't we set it to $30 an hour? Now I know the shadow government it trying to tip your country. While all you idiots who think fiat currency actually holds some kind of tender against market resources will applaud and cheer your con-mander in chief, those who understand economics will realize this will further depress the market, it will shrink the work force and it will lead to our government going broke faster. Why don't you make the minimum wage $40/hour? God you guys are stupid – why are you standing for this? You're about to fall harder the the USSR and you all just keep your heads down in the grass bleating and babbling like the good sheep you are. Your government has NO GOLD LEFT. When you stop getting paid from someone in real asset based values (ie gold) you are enslaved (ie fiat currency). So so stupid...

    January 28, 2014 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  10. Wes

    Raise minimum wage cause inflation, watch prices for milk, bread, eggs, gasoline, etc etc rise and then wonder what was the point of that?

    January 28, 2014 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  11. Malory Archer

    rodboy

    So what is new, without the 47% a demo could not get elected, unless he promises free birth control and abortion for all women.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Are those 47%er's votes somehow worth less than your's because they don't share your ideology? So what do you suggest – taking away THEIR right to vote so your team has a snowball's chance of "winning"?

    January 28, 2014 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  12. Me

    jkeys

    Whether or not a minimum wage increase is a good thing, our president should not be stomping his feet like a spoiled brat and bypassing our legislative system when he doesn't get what he wants. It is a two party system meant to have compromise and balance, it is not a dictatorship meant to be lead by executive orders.
    ________________
    100% agreed, this President needs to learn compromise and stop the me me me attidude. You know Congress might be more will to work with him if he wasn't so unwilling to compromise. When you say I will NOT compromise on the debt ceiling or budge, this is what you get!!! (and YES Congress tried to compromise, they went from defund Obamacare to simply delay it for a little while (which in the end was the RIGHT thing to do as shown buy all the issues we have had with it, but no Obama had to delay it on his own instead of WORKING WITH CONGRESS!!!!)) Thank you Congress for keeping our out of control POTUS from spending us into oblivion!!! Hey President Obama, LEARN THE WORD COMPROMISE!!!

    January 28, 2014 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  13. Jack 2

    Obama's speech will be about blaming everyone else for his shortcomings as he does in every speech. Obama isn't smart enough to realize that people respect a person that can admit his mistakes and people disrespect people who always blame others.

    January 28, 2014 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  14. smith

    @Malory- The number of competitors, seasons, weather, cost of product, and demand creates slow periods. Not because the min. wage isn`t high enough to your standards.

    January 28, 2014 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  15. Firstname Lastname

    Flex your muscles out of my office. The only thing Obama need do tonight is resign. That is all. It is obvious to everyone that Obama is a mouthpiece for corporate elitists.

    January 28, 2014 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  16. wendel

    Good for you Mr. President. If we wait for the clowns in congress nothing will be done. That may appeal to the trolls posting here but not to the country as a whole.

    January 28, 2014 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  17. shore

    If the President wanted to actually do some work for a change instead of being a brat about everything then he would have brought back manufacturing to America. It was over 2 years ago Obama used Masterlock as an example of US manufacturing. Well guess who has not come back to the United States to do business? Masterlock! It is cheaper for them to stay in China to produce their product. Coming back to the USA to manufacture will cost them more in corporate taxes and extreme costs for Obamacare to cover employees. It makes zero sense from a business standpoint to even consider moving back to the USA. For some reason though Obama thinks they are coming back because he has spread so many lies and false information he truly believes his lies to be true and factual. I am ashamed that Obama is still in office and breaking laws on a daily basis. Makes slick Willy getting a BJ no big deal compared to how awfully run our country is under the Obama administration!

    January 28, 2014 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  18. wat

    So he has decided again to ignore his limited authority and violate the constitution.

    It's like he no longer cares.

    January 28, 2014 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  19. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Tampa Tim
    Their Complete lack of knowledge of government does get anger up though
    -------------------------------------------------
    We don't mind them being stupid, it is their insatiable insistence on displaying their stupidity to the world at large that really rankles me Tampa Tim.

    January 28, 2014 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  20. Name Bae Doll

    What about the Nurse Aides at hospital & nursing homes. They do the most work for the nurses & is the lowest paid.

    January 28, 2014 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  21. Chris e- al.

    I got a free penny from a G.M. car dealer yesterday through the U.S. Mail . i consider that a raise from D.C.

    January 28, 2014 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  22. Malory Archer

    Wes

    Raise minimum wage cause inflation, watch prices for milk, bread, eggs, gasoline, etc etc rise and then wonder what was the point of that?

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    The price of all those things have been rising WITHOUT an increased minimum wage. Meanwhile workers get poorer while the owners of those things get fatter and fatter pockets – AND all those things you mention are heavily subsidized by the government, so that nees to stop.

    January 28, 2014 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  23. Anonymous

    Sucking up to the middle class.

    Obama's goal is to turn our beautiful free country into a fascist dictatorship, so the New World Order can establish control over the worlds banking systems and money. War is usually part of plans like that, so of course Obama is pushing for War with Iran and Syria, and maybe Russia and China, India, and others.

    Maybe all that will end up happening, but there are people that will go after him and every member of congress, including past members. They will all stand trial, just as the Nazi's did.

    January 28, 2014 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  24. Nick in Milwaukee

    Ok, so the idea sounds great, but if the employer is still holding all the cards, do you think that raising the minimum wage is really going to improve these people's livelihood?
    There have been many posts about how this could reduce opportunities for that 1st job for people to gain skills and move up, many fry jobs and others will turn to automation if the costs don't warrant a person over a machine.
    Furthermore, for anyone who is required to be offered benefits by their employer, they just raise the amount you have to pay for insurance by the amount of the salary increase, and voila, no change to the working man's bottom line.

    The real issue is lack of opportunities in employment right now. This Executive order, and the minimum wage conversation in general, isn't broad enough to fully address this. This country doesn't need as many people to work in an assembly line as it did, and we haven't created similar paying opportunities elsewhere in the economy (retail/service pays lower).

    January 28, 2014 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  25. James wingfield

    How does that help anybody in the real world obama is a joke .what about everybody else is this guy serious

    January 28, 2014 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
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