minimum-wage-620x400Joseph R. Carducci via downtrend

As you most likely recall from late last year, and then again early this year, our community organizer in chief has indicated his intention of acting. He is calling 2014 a year of action and has vowed to do whatever he can to move his agenda forward, even if he does not have the consent of Congress. Given that he has also hired Mr. Podesta late last year, a man who literally has written the book on how a president could run the country based on using executive actions, it seems like that today marks the first of many such executive orders.

Obama is expected today to sign an order that will increase the federal minimum wage—sort of. This order will mandate an increase in the minimum wage up to $10.10 for all future federal contract workers. So, it is not like the corner fast food joint will suddenly have their labor costs hiked 30 percent over night. However, there are some experts who feel that Obama is on murky ground here from a legal standpoint.

Dan Gordon, who is the Associate Dean for Government Procurement Law Studies at George Washington Law School, is one of those experts. According to Mr. Gordon, they are invoking the Presidential authority under the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949. The problem comes due to the fact that this law actually requires measures that ensure economy and efficiency of the procurement process. Does such a blanket increase in wages across the board satisfy these requirements?

According to Gordon, this comes down to whether or not the increase in the minimum wage will be good for business. If there was a single project or contract that was experiencing high levels of turn over, then that would be much more easy to justify such an increase. Yet, “As a blanket matter I think there is a legal cloud over whether raising the amount that contractors pay serves ‘economy and efficiency.’”

Still, this is clearly how Obama likes to do business. He is not really interested in making a case for any of this. That would take work, energy, and effort. Not to mention presenting a well-reasoned case, which he probably cannot do and does not want to risk sounding like an idiot in an effort to twist the facts to support what he wants to do. This is another unilateral move that Obama is making in an effort to test the ground for even more shaky moves to come later in 2014. Mark my words, this is only the beginning of Obama’s use of his pen.

What makes this move brilliant is that it is great for conditioning people into starting to accept the idea of both a higher minimum wage and the use of executive actions. Now, the next time Obama uses the pen, less people will cry foul about (I hope not, but that is the thinking of our community organizer in chief at this point). Also, in order to really make this into an issue, someone will need to sue. Since there are likely only 250,000 workers who will be getting raises, it is highly unlikely that anyone will sue.

What do YOU think? Is this simply Obama and his pen testing deeper waters? Should we get ready to see even more executive actions in 2014? How should we respond? Will this continue to be an issue?


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