The Obama Legacy: Majoring on Minor Issues

Last week, President Barack Obama signed an executive order raising the minimum wage for government contract workers to $10.10/hour, up from $7.25/hour.  This is a pay raise of 39%, and it begins on January 1, 2015.

Applause erupted throughout the East Room of the White House, as President Obama, flanked by a number of these workers, spoke about the great need to raise workers' wages and how he was taking the lead in doing so.  The president's rationale justifying his actions could not be more wrong, and the smattering of applause speaks to the blatant ignorance many have in the way of economics and the complete deception offered by the White House.

Prior to putting pen to executive order, Obama said, "I would ask any business leader out there, any governor, any mayor, any local leader listening: do what you can to raise your employees' wages. ... It's not going to depress the economy; it'll boost the economy."

Here's the truth.  Raising the minimum wage isn't about boosting the economy at all.  Its mathematical impact is negligible to the best.

You see, there are only about 3.6 million American workers who earn the minimum wage.  That is a mere 2.5% of all workers.  Then reduce that amount, as three in ten of those workers are teenagers flipping burgers or stocking shelves, and you're down to 1.7% of American adult workers.

Add the fact that nearly two thirds of these workers are not the primary breadwinners in their respective families -- a fact in sharp contrast to Obama's words at the signing.  "Let's declare," he said, "that in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty and raise the federal minimum wage to $9/hour". 

Given that so few working Americans actually earn the minimum wage, it stands to reason that raising the minimum wage will have little positive economic impact. 

Here's another way to look at this.  Consider that about 70% of economic growth is derived from consumer spending.  That includes spending by retirees and current workers.  Using elementary school logic, one can easily conclude that the economic impact of spending by minimum wage workers, either at present level or the $9/hr-$10.10/hr, will be miniscule at most.

This is but another example of the modus operandi of President Obama: create a crisis by elevating the importance of an issue about which few Americans are concerned, propose a feel-good supposed solution, and presto, Obama looks like a savior.

Indeed, the Congressional Budget Office announced just this past Tuesday that a minimum wage hike to $9 or $10.10 an hour, similar to what Obama and Democrats are calling for, will result in anywhere from a slight reduction in the workforce by 2016 up to a possible loss of one million jobs.

As you recall, a similar rationale occurred during Obama's push for the Affordable Care Act.  Numerous polls showed that health care reform was way down the list of issues Americans considered a priority. 

Obama kept elevating the issue, eventually up to crisis level, all the while touting benefits that have since proven to be false ("you can keep your doctor," for example).  Like the cry for a minimum wage hike, there were relatively few Americans who were initially impacted by government-sponsored universal health care.

But, like the potential million or so who could be negatively impacted by losing their entry-level job by 2016, those who already have insurance have seen a proliferation of premium hikes.

There are plenty of other examples of Obama focusing on minor issues, while sacrificing the greater good. 

Obama has pushed for amnesty, while failing to have the immigration laws enforced on the U.S./Mexican border. 

He's spouted off multiple times about the need for more fuel-efficient vehicles, while in the meantime gas prices remain near double where they were when he took office.

But this has been par for the course for Obama over the last six years -- focus on minor issues to the detriment of the majority. 

Maybe that's why, according to an Examiner/ poll, 71% of Obama voters now regret voting for him in 2012. 

They certainly should.

Chad Stafko is a writer and political consultant living in the Midwest.  He can be reached at

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