When the president announces his executive order raising the minimum wage for workers under new federal contracts to $10.10 an hour at tonight’s State of the Union address, it will be one of the biggest applause lines of the night on the Democrat side.
One reason is because he will be making good on his vow to use his pen to circumvent the Republican led Congress, which is great fun for frustrated Democrats in the minority.
Technically, increasing the wage for federal contractors does not require congressional action, but some Republicans still feel the president is overstepping the bounds of his authority.
In an interview with CNN, Tuesday morning, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) called the move “unconstitutional.”
“We have a minimum wage. Congress has set it. For the president to simply declare I’m going to change this law that has passed is unconstitutional,” he said.
Via The Hill:
The president has also thrown his support behind a bill sponsored by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) that calls for a minimum wage increase for tipped workers.The Iowa congressman suggested that there would be a legal challenge to the move, and said that the nation never “had a president with that level of audacity and that level of contempt for his own oath of office.”Still, King stopped short of suggesting that the move was grounds for impeaching the president.“I’ve stayed away from that word although it does come to me out in the streets of America consistently,” King said. “I think instead, this Congress should lay out the violations that the president’s had, and they are many.”
Because the White House can not change the terms of existing contracts, the executive order will only raise the minimum wage level for new contracts. But apparently, most government contractors make more than the minimum wage to begin with.
So one might wonder why Democrats would be wildly applauding a move that affects so few workers.
Jim Geraghty at National Review writes that the real reason behind their enthusiasm has to do with Union dues.
Richard Berman: “The Center for Union Facts analyzed collective-bargaining agreements obtained from the Department of Labor’s Office of Labor-Management Standards. The data indicate that a number of unions in the service, retail and hospitality industries peg their base-line wages to the minimum wage… The two most popular formulas were setting baseline union wages as a percentage above the state or federal minimum wage or mandating at wage premium above the minimum wage.”
And now you see why raising the minimum wage is such an intense priority for Democrats. A higher minimum wage means higher wages for union workers, which means higher union dues, which gives unions more money to spend during campaign season.