It begins: Obama to raise minimum wage for employees of federal contractors
Why? Because he can, silly.
President Obama plans to sign an executive order requiring that janitors, construction workers and others working for federal contractors be paid at least $10.10 an hour, using his own power to enact a more limited version of a policy that he has yet to push through Congress.
The order, which Mr. Obama will highlight in his annual State of the Union address on Tuesday night, is meant to underscore an increasing willingness by the president to bypass Congress if lawmakers continue to resist his agenda, aides said. After a year in which most of his legislative priorities went nowhere, Mr. Obama is seeking ways to make progress without cooperation on Capitol Hill.
The minimum wage provides an example of what he has in mind. Mr. Obama called on Congress during last year's State of the Union address to raise the minimum wage for workers across the board, only to watch the idea languish on Capitol Hill, where opponents argued it would hurt business and stifle job creation. With prospects for congressional action still slim, Mr. Obama is using the executive order covering federal contractors to go as far as he can go on his own.
"You can be sure that the president fully intends to use his executive authority to use the unique powers of the office to make progress on economic opportunity, to make progress in the areas that he believes are so important to further economic growth and further job creation," Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, told reporters on Monday.
But the minimum wage order will also illustrate the limits of that approach. If Congress increased the federal minimum wage to $10.10 from $7.25 as Mr. Obama has sought, 21 million employees would eventually get a raise unless their jobs were eliminated, according to estimates by a liberal research organization. Mr. Obama's order at most is likely to affect several hundred thousand workers.
Even so, Mr. Obama's vow to use his executive authority more robustly has drawn criticism from Republicans who say he has already stretched, and in some cases, exceeded the bounds of his power, much as he once accused President George W. Bush of doing.
"Unless their jobs were eliminated..." Yes, an object lesson is about to be given to fast food workers, and liberal labor activists in what happens when you jack up the minimum wage by 40%. Businessmen are not in business for altruistic reasons. It would be nice if they were - just like it would be nice if we all had a unicorn in our backyard - but the sad fact is, businessmen wouldn't be in business very long if they lost money.
This singular fact escapes everyone on the left from Obama on down. So if you want to eliminate entry level jobs for the poor and the young, jack up that minimum wage. Why stop at $10 an hour when $15 per hour is better? Or even $20?
Next, Obama will make it a requirement that companies have to hire a certain number of people at $10 per hour. That's the logic of his proposal and if he could get away with it, I'm sure he'd try.