January 28th, 2014
06:00 AM ET
3 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. Me

    Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Where's Our $24 Billion?

    Oh no! The dictator is actually doing the will of the people without congressional approval.
    __________________
    Oh but you said sometimes the will of the people shouldn't be upheld such as with marriage equality (ya know the states that voted to ban marriage for same sex couples), but NOW it should??? Typical hypocritical liberal here, only when it fits YOUR agenda will you agree!!! And for the record I am for marriage equality but am sick of hearing your kind talking out of both sides of your mouth!!!

    January 28, 2014 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  2. Malory Archer

    Me

    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.

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

    john bohner said he got "98%" of what he wanted from "this President", so it kinda sounds like he's been overly acquiescent in the compromise department. In fact, I'd say boehner's statements make the President look like the Compromiser in Chief. But don't let facts cloud your little mind!

    January 28, 2014 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  3. Jen

    From an Australian perspective, that's still quite pitiful.

    January 28, 2014 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  4. Malory Archer

    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.

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

    Of course it's cheaper in China – they've got an endless supply of workers making forty cents a day and prison slave labor to pick up the slack!

    January 28, 2014 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  5. A True Conservative

    When will people learn? You are paid based upon what you bring to the table – not based upon what it costs to "live". If you want to live in a society based upon from each according to his means, to each according to his needs......you need to move to a communist country....Cuba ar Venezuela would be good choices for you for starters....

    January 28, 2014 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  6. Srcactus

    Admission that "my way or the highway" is not a successful management strategy.

    January 28, 2014 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  7. smith

    @The Real truth...You don`t support or protest capitalism, you accept it and live with it. If you don`t like it that`s your issue.

    January 28, 2014 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  8. Matt

    glad we are cutting benefits for our military but raising the salary of people who clean and cook. another great move but a terrible administration #sartalics

    January 28, 2014 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  9. Marci

    $10.00 is nothing. Why the complaints

    January 28, 2014 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  10. Me

    Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Where's Our $24 Billion? (Ask the people responsible, the Senate!!!!)

    Oh no! The dictator is actually doing the will of the people without congressional approval.
    _____________________________
    Oh but you said sometimes the will of the people shouldn't be upheld such as with marriage equality (ya know the states that voted to ban marriage for same sex couples), but NOW it should??? Typical hypocritical liberal here, only when it fits YOUR agenda will you agree!!! And for the record I am for marriage equality but am sick of hearing your kind talking out of both sides of your mouth!!!

    January 28, 2014 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  11. Sniffit

    "...Now I know the shadow government it trying to tip your country...."

    All I heard was "derp."

    January 28, 2014 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  12. YoonYoungJo

    Its a start setting some wages to 10.10. But nearly every industry needs a little raise. The problem is convincing the wealthy to be okay with it. The big issue with income inequality is partially perception. Those at the top cannot see the view from below and those down below, who make it to the top do not make any effort to change things. I think that is how many of the wealthy view it. The low to middle income brackets complain about the wealthy abusing power, but when they are given even a small taste of the same power, they abuse it too.

    January 28, 2014 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  13. golfguy65

    Not going to make a dent in fixing the economy. Just another political stunt. He needs to work with congress whether he like them or not. Otherwise we will have three more years of gridlock.

    January 28, 2014 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  14. George Washington

    Federal contractors??? Guess who's going to pay for that directly? That's right. It's tax payer. Obama just volunteered you and me to pay more than any one else and plunge the government even further into debt. And what's the bend for him? He's just bought thousands of votes with our money. It must be nice to be able to spend other people's money to benefit yourself. It's just that before the Democrats led their way into our democracy, that was always called piracy.

    January 28, 2014 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  15. Subnx

    An increase in the minimum wage may, or may not, be a good idea but to unilaterally raise it for government contracts when we have a deficit just increases the deficit and will require more taxes. Oh, I forgot, that's his ultimate objective. Tax those who can pay and give it to his voters.

    January 28, 2014 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  16. Lynda/Minnesota

    @ Fair is Fair:

    I have a question for you. A silly question no doubt, but something caught my attention yesterday that reminded me of a conversation you had with another blogger a while back. That person called herself "LaCrosse Mom". If I remember correctly, she used a great many .............!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!??????????? in her posts. Do you recall how many other names she went by when you called her out on it?

    January 28, 2014 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  17. Me

    Uncle Bryce

    I hope the republicans begin to bend a little.
    ________________
    Bend a little?? What do you think they did during the debt ceiling and budget negotiations?????????? Did Obama and the Senate bend ANY, ANY AT ALL?? NO NOT ONE TINY BIT but congress sure did!!! Either you are extremely uninformed or you just love the Obama kool-aid, maybe a little of both!

    January 28, 2014 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  18. Rudy NYC

    smitvict wrote:

    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?
    ------------------------
    Of course, not. You should be embarrased for even suggesting something like that.

    "The action will cover all workers employed under future government contracts, ensuring that none is paid less than $10.10 an hour."

    January 28, 2014 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  19. Schmo

    Damn this guy likes to spend money. Reminds me of my wife....

    January 28, 2014 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  20. Too Much Government

    Blah, blah, blah... as usual – a lot of talk and no results... Re-distribution of wealth will never work! Mandated healthcare will not work unless people have the freedom to choose their healthcare – and not force it upon them (Like you doctor, keep your doctor – LIE)... Government is too big and wants more taxes to become larger and dictate to the American people... Obama wants everyone in the middle class (redistribute wealth) and on government control healthcare and most of our money funneled through the government – so that they can take care of us... NO THANKS!

    January 28, 2014 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  21. Rudy NYC

    smith

    @Malory- The number of competitors, seasons, weather, cost of product, and demand creates slow periods. ... ...
    ------------------------–
    You forgot uncertainty, uncertainty as to whether or not Republicans are going to shutdown government, or default on our debt.

    January 28, 2014 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  22. GOP = Greed Over People

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

    Until the GOP quits making such statements proving they loathe half the country, they will never hold a national office again.

    January 28, 2014 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  23. Me

    ShawnDH

    This is a good step, but minimum wage should be more in the range of $15-$17/hour in order to be a living wage
    ______________________
    Minimum wage was NEVER meant to be a living wage, it is for college/high school students while they are going to SCHOOL to earn a REAL LIVING WAGE!!!! Why should companies pay a high school drop out 15 bucks an hour when a college grad makes the same right out of college??? Get real seriously, if you want the govenment to dictate your entire life, move to North Korea!!!!!!

    January 28, 2014 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  24. JCS

    What people need to realize is, increasing salaries for Federal Contractors (paid by the Federal Government, ie; your tax money) does not help grow the economy. It is just more government spending.

    January 28, 2014 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  25. LI_Bri

    Welcome to Obama's dictatorship. And if your next raise depends on a boost in min. wage, you're probably lucky anyone hired you to begin with.

    January 28, 2014 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
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