President Obama’s big “economic speech” yesterday might come to nothing more than a brief distraction from Obamacare, but progressives in the House want to see real action. And, in light of the fact that a large minimum wage hike is likely going nowhere as long as Republicans exist in the House, they’re pushing President Executive Power to do what he’s done many times before: bypass those pesky people in the legislative chamber.
The chairmen of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Reps. Raul Grijalva and Keith Ellison, wrote a letter that urges the president to circumvent Congress and sign an executive order to raise the minimum wage for workers employed through federal government contracts with private companies. This letter comes months after 49 members of the CPC requested the same thing from the president, only to hear radio silence about it from the White House.
National Journal goes on to cite a progressive report that this kind of executive action would affect two million federal-contract workers, and points to a McDonald’s at the national Air and Space Museum that would be affected.
To be fair, this odd workaround would not affect all workers. But it would affect a lot of them – and even though the economy might be in better health than we think, we’re far from full employment. Despite Paul Krugman’s claims to the contrary, minimum wage hikes will leave some workers without jobs, and may discourage employers from new hiring that they’d normally be capable of doing under expansionary times. Federal contractors are not different from private sector companies in how they’d respond to a minimum wage hike.
While President Obama’s resurrection of a minimum wage hike might be merely a distraction, the House progressives’ push to bypass their own legislative chamber would fit in perfectly with POTUS’ love of executive orders. It’s another issue that the President would find himself blocked on in Congress and another issue that he’d probably be happy to circumvent with his expansionary view of his own power.