President Obama Raises the Minimum Wage for Government Contractors, Waits for Republicans to Explode

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Jan. 28 2014 10:36 AM

President Obama Raises the Minimum Wage for Government Contractors, Waits for Republicans to Explode

159574194-rep-keith-ellison-speaks-during-a-news-conference
Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., can declare victory.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Put aside the "why the State of the Union is boring and doesn't matter" smart-takes for a minute and gander at this morning's actual news: an executive order raising the minimum wage for some people. From the guidelines:

In the State of the Union Address, the President will announce that he will use his executive authority to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 for those working on new federal contracts for services. ... The increase will take effect for new contracts after the effective date of the order, so contractors will have time to prepare and price their bids accordingly.
Advertisement

Where did this idea come from? We actually know. Forty-nine members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the Democratic group that spent much of 2013 denouncing any possible entitlement cuts in the president's budget or a fiscal deal, asked for exactly this. At the end of 2013, Rep. Keith Ellison hand-delivered a letter asking for the wage hike for contractors. "We know his heart is in the right place and he wants to do something," he said at the time, "and this is something he can do."

Today, Ellison spiked the football. "Activism works!" he said in a short video message.

So, with the proverbial stroke of the pen, the president has cheered the left of his party and raised wages for maybe hundreds of thousands of people. He has also stoked some predictable anger from Republicans.

"I don't like it," said Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz in a morning interview on C-SPAN. "I don't think that's the spirit of the Constitution."

Iowa Rep. Steve King, appearing on CNN, said basically the same thing, citing the part of the Constitution (Article II, if you're playing at home) that he thought had been shredded in plain sight.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

TODAY IN SLATE

The Juice

Ford’s Big Gamble

It’s completely transforming America’s best-selling vehicle.

Should the United States Grant Asylum to Victims of Domestic Violence?

The Apple Watch Will Make Everyone Around You Just a Little Worse Off

This Was the First Object Ever Designed

Don’t Expect Adrian Peterson to Go to Prison

In much of America, beating your kids is perfectly legal. 

Moneybox

How the Apple Watch Will Annoy Us

A glowing screen attached to someone else’s wrist is shinier than all but the blingiest jewels.

Music

A Little Bit Softer Now, a Little Bit Softer Now …

The sad, gradual decline of the fade-out in popular music.

Is Everyone Going to Declare Independence if Scotland Does It? 

I Tried to Write an Honest Profile of One of Bollywood’s Biggest Stars. It Didn’t Go Well.

Trending News Channel
Sept. 12 2014 11:26 AM Identical Twins Aren’t Really Identical
  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 12 2014 7:24 PM Come and Take It Libertarians fight for people whose property was seized by the police.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 12 2014 5:54 PM Olive Garden Has Been Committing a Culinary Crime Against Humanity
  Life
Outward
Sept. 12 2014 3:32 PM Yes, Those Straight Guys Who Wed for Rugby Tickets Are Mocking Marriage. What’s New?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 12 2014 4:05 PM Life as an NFL Wife: “He's the Star. Keep Him Happy.”
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 12 2014 5:55 PM “Do You Know What Porn Is?” Conversations with Dahlia Lithwick’s 11-year-old son.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 14 2014 7:10 PM Watch Michael Winslow Perform Every Part of “Whole Lotta Love” With Just His Voice
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 12 2014 3:53 PM We Need to Pass Legislation on Artificial Intelligence Early and Often
  Health & Science
New Scientist
Sept. 14 2014 8:38 AM Scientific Misconduct Should Be a Crime It’s as bad as fraud or theft, only potentially more dangerous.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 12 2014 4:36 PM “There’s No Tolerance for That” Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh say they don’t abide domestic abuse. So why do the Seahawks and 49ers have a combined six players accused of violence against women?