On Tuesday, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) criticized President Obama’s plan to raise the minimum wage for government contractors, citing it as a dangerous example of government takeover.
Obama will issue an executive action to increase the minimum wage to $10.10 for people employed through federal contracts, remedying the fact that the U.S. government has become one of the largest low-wage employers. Obama’s executive order does nothing to change the very nature of federal contracts, which are already subject to a set of government regulations.
But Blunt expressed outrage that the government could hold its paid contractors accountable.
“The President thinks that is the way to be president and sign executive orders on his own? And decide how small business and veteran-owned business and contractors with the federal government are supposed to run the business?” Blunt said on Fox News. Comparing a $10 minimum wage to the Affordable Care Act, Blunt lamented that the government has now taken “over how federal contractors run their business as well.”
Roughly 560,000 people are hourly wage workers through federal contracts. Even though government contracts are responsible for nearly 2 million low-paid jobs, Obama’s order would only affect new contracts, mostly in the low-paying service industry. The workers affected are janitors, technicians, and fast food workers who work for companies with contracts in federal buildings and museums.
Low-wage service employees have held a series of walkouts to protest their treatment. A report from the Government Accountability Office agreed that abuse is rampant — the 25 worst wage violators receive active federal contracts. Meanwhile, the CEOs of these companies are paid a total $24 billion a year, according to Demos.
The other criticism Republicans have leveled at Obama is that he should not sidestep Congress with an executive order. Despite Obama’s past pleas for Congress to pass a new minimum wage, which hasn’t risen in over four years, the GOP-controlled House of Representatives ensured the bill would get nowhere.