Liberals: Obama alone could raise minimum wage for many
By Jeanne Sahadi@CNNMoneyJanuary 24, 2014: 4:15 AM ET
NEW YORK (CNNMoney)
Just do it, Mr. President.
If Congress won't raise the federal minimum wage, you can. At least for people who work for companies that get federal contracts, subcontracts and grants.
So says a group of liberals in the House and Senate who want President Obama to sign an executive order requiring federal agencies to give preference in awarding contracts to companies that pay workers no less than $10.10 an hour.
Currently the federal minimum wage is $7.25. And there's been a push by Democrats to raise it to $10.10 -- an idea that Obama supports.
The White House hasn't taken a position. When asked at a forum last week what the chances were for executive action, Jason Furman, the chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, said that the goal is to raise the minimum wage for all low-wage workers.
"How can we best advance this effort ... to make sure no one in this country is paid less than $10.10 an hour?" Furman said.
His answer: To do so legislatively.
But that doesn't necessarily mean the notion of executive action is dead.
"If the [minimum wage] bill languishes in the House, there's a good chance Obama will use executive authority to raise the minimum wage for employees of federal contractors," said Greg Valliere, chief political strategist of the Potomac Research Group. Republicans would object, he argues, and "simply draw more attention to their refusal to raise the minimum wage."
For starters, it could take year or two just for the executive order to be implemented as a regulation, said Daniel Gordon, a government contracts expert who oversaw federal procurement policy for the White House from 2009 to 2011.
Then, when the new guidance takes effect, it would only apply from that point forward to new contracts or contracts up for renewal.