Obama could raise minimum wage for federal contract workers today (if he wanted to)

I’m unimpressed with Obama’s latest “I’m an economic populist too” speech. Like he did with his climate speech, he rang all the right opening bells (my emphasis):

But we know that people’s frustrations run deeper than these most recent political battles.  Their frustration is rooted in their own daily battles — to make ends meet, to pay for college, buy a home, save for retirement.  It’s rooted in the nagging sense that no matter how hard they work, the deck is stacked against them.  And it’s rooted in the fear that their kids won’t be better off than they were.  They may not follow the constant back-and-forth in Washington or all the policy details, but they experience in a very personal way the relentless, decades-long trend that I want to spend some time talking about today.  And that is a dangerous and growing inequality and lack of upward mobility that has jeopardized middle-class America’s basic bargain — that if you work hard, you have a chance to get ahead.

I believe this is the defining challenge of our time:  Making sure our economy works for every working American.

But his solutions scare me to death, because, well, they’re not solutions, they’re exacerbations to the problem. Like this one — lower taxes for corporations:

And that means simplifying our corporate tax code in a way that closes wasteful loopholes and ends incentives to ship jobs overseas. (Applause.) We can — by broadening the base, we can actually lower rates to encourage more companies to hire here and use some of the money we save to create good jobs rebuilding our roads and our bridges and our airports and all the infrastructure our businesses need.

Or more NAFTA-style “trade” agreements (read, TPP):

It means a trade agenda that grows exports and works for the middle class.

Fewer regulations that stifle our job-creating betters:

It means streamlining regulations that are outdated or unnecessary or too costly.

And he’s still on about deficits as the root of our evil:

And it means coming together around a responsible budget, one that grows our economy faster right now and shrinks our long-term deficits …

We can stop right there, though there’s more where this comes from. He still wants what Robert Rubin wants, and the Rubins of the world don’t want higher minimum wages. Obama just front-loaded his speech with Elizabeth Warren–talk to get there. Nice. Legacy nice.

How does this apply to minimum wages?

We wrote recently about the growing push for higher wages in the country, starting with the minimum wage and fast-food workers. Mr. President, you can’t reverse a “dangerous and growing inequality” if you don’t pay people more money.

And by you, I mean you, Mr. President. The federal government employs millions of workers indirectly, through federal contracts. Yes, Mr. President; millions. You could personally change their wages today according to House Dem. Raúl Grijalva.

Josh Eidelson in Salon:

How Obama can bypass Tea Party Congress (and raise fast food worker wages)

Rep. Raul Grijalva tells Salon that House Democrats are asking “why the hell he just doesn’t do it!”

The White House has offered “no response” to a months-old call from congressional Democrats to bypass Congress and use executive action to raise workers’ wages, the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus told Salon Tuesday afternoon. …

A man who said "Yes We Can"

A man who said “Yes We Can”

Grijalva and 49 House Democrats wrote to Obama in September to urge he use executive authority to require better labor standards for workers employed through federal government contracts with private companies. That letter followed a prior July letter by Grijalva and others, and a handful of one-day strikes since May by cleaning and concessions workers in D.C. federal buildings. A report by the progressive think tank Demos estimated that about 2 million workers with taxpayer-funded jobs make $12 an hour or less.

As I’ve reported, striking workers have also alleged violations of federal law, spurring a Department of Labor investigation and securing a meeting with the administrator of the General Services Administration. The work stoppages were part of an effort backed by the Service Employees International Union, which is also the key national player behind the wave of one-day fast food strikes, which organizers have promised will escalate to involve 100 cities Thursday.

How does this improve the wages of fast-food workers? Like this:

Along with lifting subcontracted workers out of poverty, Grijalva argued a move to raise their standards “would add huge momentum to the effort” by other low-wage workers in industries like fast food to win improvements. “It proves it can be done,” he told Salon, “and it puts the United States government and President Obama at the top of the moral imperative and the economic imperative to do this.”

Real moral leadership would put huge pressure on the low-end (predatory) wage market. Why predatory? Read here, about how your taxes make up the difference when Walmart and McDonalds employees can’t make ends meet.

What’s a president with executive authority to do?

We know Mr. Obama thinks that economic inequality is the “defining challenge of our time” because he said so. But does he himself feel challenged by it? Does Mr. Obama want to be at “the top of the moral imperative and the economic imperative” (quoting Mr. Grijalva)?

More simply, does the president want to put his feet where his mouth just walked, by acting on his words? You could ask him. White House operators are standing by:

Call the President

Comments: 202-456-1111
Switchboard: 202-456-1414

The question: “Will you raise wages of federal contract workers by executive order?” If you get an answer, please post it in the comments.

Kudos to Rep. Grijalva, and to Josh Eidelson for covering this story. Mr. President, we can’t fund your library like your other good friends, but many of us believed your other words, and we’re watching too.


To follow or send links: @Gaius_Publius

Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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138 Responses to “Obama could raise minimum wage for federal contract workers today (if he wanted to)”

  1. Bill Hammersley says:

    Raise the minimum wage to $10 an hour; great. Push inflation up by a like amount, Only people who suffer are older people who had a Social Securities raise of 1%. But who are you Obama to give a shit about the older people in America. You’d like them to all die and go away.

  2. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    I think I found your problem. I mean besides the appalling lack of spelling, punctuation, and grammar skills. You mention that you send your children to private school here: http://dailycaller.com/2013/09/20/school-slavery-reenactment-uses-n-word-repeatedly-sends-black-girl-running-through-woods/
    That would help explain why you have trouble supporting a family of three on $60,000 a year. It’s your choice of course, but don’t expect taxpayers to subsidize your decision by giving you food stamps.

  3. smsavoy says:

    Obama want to raise minimum wage so he can paid for Obama Care.And to get people off food stamps he already cut food stamps by a 100 dollars and people already cant afford food even with food stamps I wish I could get food stamps to help paid for my a family of three 60.000 a year Obama thinks 60.000 a year is middle class I guess he havn’t been to the grocery store and bought food lately they give a family of three 600 dollars in food stamps I could use 600 dollars for food I spent 230 in the store last week and that was only enough food for 10 days if im lucky then.I broke down and cry we never had it this hard and I don’t go buy stuff I don’t need . I didn’t have it in me to put up my Christmas tree this year and that one of my favorite thing to do but since somebody stole my xmas stuff I had in yard I bought on sale and I mean a 75 percent sale. Obama want everybody poor and living off the government so they can control us. People lock up your stuff and tie it down b/c people will be stealing to pay for their food people are already stealing our oranges and lemons and grapefruits and all they have to do is asked me for some and I would give it to them. Turning my extra bedroom into a indoor garden so we can have fresh food and to trade with our neighbors for fresh eggs.God Bless everyone and peace be with you.

  4. Doro Reeves says:

    According to my source, that MW statistic is based both on productivity AND today’s economy.

  5. Doro Reeves says:

    Socialists are some of the sanest people you’ll ever find in this freak show.

  6. Doro Reeves says:

    Gag me.

  7. Doro Reeves says:

    Clinton sucks. I’d sooner cut off my arm than vote for her.

  8. Doro Reeves says:

    Yep, and he’ll see to it we wind up poorer by pushing to fast-track the TPP! If that ever passes, look out. Ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

  9. Doro Reeves says:

    Except that now it’s being reversed. Now the Indians are becoming the actual consumers, and we’re the slave wage grunts! (Don’t know about the Chinese… ) Sometimes I wonder, is this karma at work? What goes around comes around? Frankly, I don’t think anyone deserves to live like this.

  10. Doro Reeves says:

    Again: we can have it all! Or should, anyhow.

  11. Doro Reeves says:

    Raising the minimum wage AND capping CEO salaries… Why not have it ALL? Either, by itself, would not be enough.

  12. Doro Reeves says:

    You’ve got that right, Whitewitch! We’re still subject to government-sanctioned extortion!

  13. Doro Reeves says:


  14. Doro Reeves says:

    Not a dictator? Really?! Indefinite detention without trial, murder-by-drone, hit lists and assassinations…

  15. Doro Reeves says:

    Outsourcing doesn’t even help developing nations. It perpetuates poverty, worldwide.

  16. Doro Reeves says:

    Oh come on, Dave, give the guy a break! There are more deserving targets for our anger.

  17. Doro Reeves says:

    Right on, “karmanot”! I concur.

  18. Doro Reeves says:

    Obama is all talk, with little action to back it up. This guy is a corporatist, a puppet for the 1%. He really doesn’t give a flip for the working class or the poor. I think we’ve all been conned by a smooth-talking fraud. Any constitutional scholar worth his salt wouldn’t dream of legitimizing indefinite detention without charge or trial, or hit lists & assassinations, or the use of drones to kill innocent civilians. He pontificates about income inequality while simultaneously, pushing for TPP and Fast Track; need I say more?

    If I ever vote for another Democrat, it’ll have to be someone like Elizabeth Warren who’s already demonstrated what she’s made of. Prior to his first term, Obama hadn’t proven his worth. Never again will I trust an untested candidate. I don’t care what that person’s background is. If I can’t trust a constitutional scholar who started out as a grassroots community organizer and wasn’t born into wealth, then whom can I trust? Lesson learned!

  19. Bruce says:

    Butt, he’s the BS (Bush Shadow) BOTU of the 1%.

  20. BloggerDave says:

    You would also use your real name…

  21. GaiusPublius says:

    Not really. Citizen-started petitions that the rest can pile onto have more effect. I can start and promote stuff here at the site, but the CREDO and MoveOn petition platforms were designed for “the many” to use. When someone with a name (slight as mine is) uses it, the petition looks “gamed”.

    Believe me, if I were cowardly, you’d never see half of what I write due to self-censorship.


  22. lynchie says:

    I know he has an awesome grasp of his own importance as well as no grasp of the life of a minimum wage american worker.

  23. lynchie says:

    Contributions by people 60 and older are not wanted by most companies. They can hire two recent grads for what they pay 1 over 60 employee. People are the new disposable. They put little value on experience or knowledge earned over time it is all bottom line thinking and personal gain, that is why the Jack Welch’s of the world and deemed innovative and revered for mass lay offs to increase profits.

  24. lynchie says:

    You are right he is not a dictator but he sure as hell isn’t a Liberal Democrat

  25. BloggerDave says:

    “Better coming from you than me. ”
    Chicken Sh*t….

  26. Unhappy Federal Worker says:

    I’m a federal worker and I’m not happy. The President announced the 1% raise late Friday afternoon before a three day weekend; days before an automatic raise (substantially larger and truthfully, ridiculously large) would go into effect. Does that tell you the White House thought it would be good news? I could rant about the two year freeze, the insulting .5% salary increase (abandoned immediately), the proposed pension increases, and the painting of a big red target on our backs for the Republicans. Let’s just say I’m not happy.

  27. karmanot says:

    Miss Manners is a GOP tight ass….next?

  28. karmanot says:


  29. GaiusPublius says:

    You can start petitions and post links here. Better coming from you than me.

    My suggestions: White House, MoveOn, CREDO. You can do all three, or the WH plus one of the latter two. Let me know (with links) what comes of this. Good luck!


  30. Unfortunately, I am approaching thirty years of failed attempts to get into the middle class. For nineteen years, I stayed with my first permanent fulltime job, even though it was severe underemployment. Last June, instead of moving up with an expansion, my employer eliminated my job. After twentyfour weeks of unemployment, I am no nearer to anything permanent, not even a decent interview. I’ve been cursing Reaganomics since I received my MBA from Penn State in 1984.

  31. Whitewitch says:

    Okay Indigo…I will – you are probably right – it is probably a better plan….

    Not Ralph Nader though…I never really liked him after the 90’s.

  32. nicho says:

    Who did I call a name?

  33. nicho says:

    Corporations are chartered by the government. The government can damn well regulate their behavior.

  34. Naja pallida says:

    It already does, that’s what all the government subsidies are for.

  35. emjayay says:

    Miss Manners. And everyone else.

  36. emjayay says:

    Private industry, where most people work, is way ahead of the federal government in this.

  37. emjayay says:

    That’s because $9 in 1968 equals $60.40 in 2013 according to BLS CPI Inflation Calculator.

  38. emjayay says:

    But you do, Blanche, you do.

  39. emjayay says:

    All good points. It was never a bed of roses, but there used to be national discussions of stuff like this, I think. Actual Democratic support for Full Employment legislation. Now all we get is culture wars and ignorance or at best portrayals of ignorance by right wing focus group tested boilerplate spouting Republican leaders. And Myley Cyrus.

  40. Kayaker says:

    When the President put forth a 1% increase in federal workers pay for the FY 2014 budget government workers were happy. However, they and OPM realized this would increase the costs in personnel and cause an additional day furlough for 2014 because of the Sequester. So I ask all of you, if the minimum wage is increased for federal contractors, how many additional days of furlough will they be forced to take without pay for 2014? Think people, think. Let’s get rid of the Sequester before we push this too hard.

  41. Indigo says:

    When the Dollar Stores go belly up?

  42. Indigo says:

    No! No! Vote for a batshit crazy socialist instead. Or Ralph Nader . . . :-)

  43. Indigo says:

    But is likely to snag the nomination anyhow because . . . it’s just a rotation of chairs, not a grass roots election anymore.

  44. karmanot says:

    Exactly. This is the same guy who championed single payer in his glorious speechifying and then sold us out in a backroom deal with Insurance.

  45. karmanot says:

    Says who beside Sister Georgina?

  46. Ford Prefect says:

    It certainly does serve the purpose of bi-partisanship, so why not?

  47. karmanot says:

    That’s what happened to the Castro and South of Market.

  48. Whitewitch says:

    Can we throw in a pinch of Sarah Palin for good measure – I know she is not a democrat – but I like to dis her whenever feasible.

  49. karmanot says:

    A cup of Melissa Harris Perry and two TBS of Rachel Maddow.

  50. karmanot says:


  51. karmanot says:


  52. Whitewitch says:

    I was trying to be nice and just talk about the planning – however, since you bring it up….proof that President Obama is a corporatist (is that the right word). The real winners are the insurance companies.

  53. karmanot says:

    That works for me. But it is true that trolls recently are hardly worth the play.

  54. karmanot says:

    Disastrous was rolling out the ACA in the first place. The nation was ready for single payer and then presto chango Obozo did a backroom deal and paved the way for an Insurance bonanza.

  55. karmanot says:

    “The president isn’t a dictator.”—except when he can order the deaths of American citizens or anyone he deems worthy, without a trial or review. Obama has embraced the unitary presidency and in fact is a dictator when it so pleases him.

  56. karmanot says:

    “When’s it going to end?”— When WAL*MART out prices the poor who shop there.

  57. karmanot says:

    In other words: The end stage of predatory capitalism.

  58. karmanot says:

    The only thing we can believe in Obama is that he is a lying sack of neo-liberal s**t.

  59. Monoceros Forth says:

    Where is the honor of working?

    You said it. The general idea you get from the words and the actions of corporate managers these days is that workers are intolerable burdens for them, pampered babies who are already getting paid much more than is good for them. Even the slightest gesture toward making workers a little happier with higher wages or more benefits (or any benefits) generates a predictable string of complaints from CEOs that now they’ll be forced to sack everyone and move their jobs to some “right-to-work” red-state cesspit. Then they have the cheek to lament about how the poors need moral instruction on the “work ethic” instead of, you know, food or medicine. When’s it going to end?

  60. AnitaMann says:

    CEO salaries are set by boards of directors and I don’t think government can cap them. But why have the boards allowed the salaries to rise so fast? That’s what I would like to know. And it’s not salaries that’s caused the wealth disparity as much as the lowering of capital gains taxes, where the tax on do-nothing income is so low. Not in favor of mandatory retirement either. Allow those who WANT to retire at 60 by giving them a financial incentive — many will take it. Many people are working into their 70s because they have to, because they haven’t saved, or their financial rug has been pulled out from under them late in their lives. Replace the rug and retirements will happen.

  61. Bill_Perdue says:

    It is a depression and it is caused by the class warfare of the rich and the political prostitutes who service them. Democrats continue to refuse to pass the Employee Free Choice Act and other laws to necessary to organize.

    Democrats like Obama and many Democrat state governors are among the most viscous and mean spirited union busters in the country, making Republican scabs like Walker and Kasich look like amateurs by comparison. While promoting unemployment by ignoring it Obama continues to favor the rich and the banksters with multi-trillion dollar loans to and appoint the Clinton economic team, who engineered the current depression, to run his economic policies.

    Now the payback begins. Pro Democrat union leaders are being replaced by militants in local after local. A socialist beat out a Democrat for the Seattle city council and comes workd of the big victory of the the Lorrain, Ohio Central Labor Council, which bolted the Democrat party and ran their own union candidates. “Union-dense Lorain County, Ohio, is now home to an independent labor slate of
    two dozen newly elected city councilors—recruited and run by the central labor
    council there. All labor’s candidates had strong showings last month, and all
    but two were elected.

    Lorain County AFL-CIO President
    Harry Williamsonsaid “When the leaders of the [Democratic] Party just took us for
    granted and tried to roll over the rights of working people here, we had to
    stand up. …

  62. Ford Prefect says:

    Both men in my case as well. Then again, I don’t personally know Melissa Harris-Perry, so I can’t “unfriend” her and that would even out the ratio a wee bit.

  63. MichaelS says:

    Spot on, Gaius! In last night’s show with Chris Matthews, he spoke about how humbling the Presidency was, and how one cannot just get things done as one may wish (my terrible paraphrasing). OK, but one does not need to cede the ENTIRE power of the Presidency to one’s opponents!

    Gaius, I know the problem is bigger than the minimum wage, or the minimum wage for federal workers — but we could take a first step by embarrassing this WH into action through a petition to the WH web site… They’re supposed to respond publicly to any petition garnering more than 25,000 signatures. You have the resources on this blog to easily reach that goal, please let’s give it a try!

  64. Whitewitch says:

    Indeed! I have had to “unfriend” several people who I really adored when they became overpoweringly pressuring about changing my stance…(men mostly).

  65. Ford Prefect says:

    Ah yes, the old “you sound just like a Tea Party shill” trick. I’ve already jettisoned a couple old friends when they trotted that one out. As the Democrats continue to lose legitimacy the way the Titanic lost its buoyancy, that authoritarian streak is becoming all the more visible. And risible. Every time I’ve tried to point out what a losing proposition that kind social dominance technique is, they just come back with more of it.

    I now view that style of intimidation as projection.

  66. Whitewitch says:

    Agreed….it is a sad sad situation…for a 100% dyed in the wool, bleeding heart, leaning to the pinko commie, to say she would vote Batshit Crazy Republican (“BCR”) over pretend Democrat….is telling the of times we live in. Just to clarify – at least in voting for the BCR I am getting what I vote for…and can give voice to the craziness and point at it and SAY look BCR is at it again and no fellow liberal will fault me for it…unlike now when you point out that the “emperor is wearing no clothes” you are labeled a RWNJ or worse.

  67. Ford Prefect says:

    Ah yes, that sounds familiar now. Thanks.

  68. Naja pallida says:

    That’s also the thing. There would be no need to raise prices. It’s just that Wal-Mart can’t stand the thought of having only 15 billion in profit instead of 16 billion.

  69. Bill_Perdue says:

    There are actions an organizing drives at Target, Lowes and other chains that make a mint, bust union drives and sacrifice the lives of workers on the altar of profit.

  70. Ford Prefect says:

    Oh, that it’s come to this…….

  71. GarySFBCN says:

    OK, add a good pension system, although I was thinking of a stronger social security system.

  72. Ford Prefect says:

    As hyperbole goes, yours is quite pleasant. Mine, on the other hand…. So keep typing hyperbole as needed. Just don’t deny the trolls their agency by downrating yourself. It’s selfish! ;^)

  73. Whitewitch says:

    Well said….and I agree 100%. Where is the honor of working – it seems the talking heads only see value if your work results in wealth and then YOU should only work until you have enough money to hire underlings. I love my work…I enjoy the challenge. Guess I am a looser.

  74. Ford Prefect says:

    Well there you go. Also too, BLS CPI grossly underestimates the real cost of living in any case. $9 in 1968 would have been a good wage for most people. But not now.

  75. Naja pallida says:

    The statistic saying the minimum wage would be $21.75 an hour today was based on increases in worker productivity, not cost of living, consumer price index, or inflation.

  76. emjayay says:

    But…..but…..the one buck specials will cost $1.25!

  77. AnitaMann says:

    Damn I wrote more than I thought I would sorry. This is a big issue to me.

  78. AnitaMann says:

    I take an even bigger picture. So big I can’t even articulate it well. But I’ll try. There are a couple of overarching issues in this country that a simple raise in minimum wage won’t fix — although it must be raised, stat. 1. we don’t respect work in this country. Not really. Just lip service. I’m not talking individually, because individually I believe humans crave to do something meaningful with their labor and brains. Our political culture worships money, that’s all. And this trickles down to the psyche of the average person. The big lie, repeated over and over, that as long as you give tax breaks to the .1 percent, they won’t give you any crumbs and you’ll never be a part of that club, is powerful and has infected our thinking. I mean the royal “our.” 2. Nobody, I mean nobody, knows how to create enough jobs that are well-paying and non-demeaning for all the people who want them. There is no simple solution to this; maybe there is no solution at all. Trouble is, nobody’s even trying to address this issue seriously. 3. Obviously outsourcing, while it helps developing nations, crushes our nation. 4. Technology really is making a lot of jobs obsolete, very quickly and continually. 5. The pace of change means that we have to keep reinventing our careers whether we want to or not; survival of the most adaptable — but without any support to do that reinvention. 6. The murder of unions and decades of propaganda that “it’s because of greedy unions that YOUR job, mister non-union insecure guy, is on the line.” 7. The sense of rugged individualism; every man for himself, I’ve got mine, glad I’m not you, sucker. This prevents any solutions that might work at the government level. 8. Several other things that I haven’t thought of.

  79. Whitewitch says:

    I will NOT vote for Clinton. I will vote for a Batshit Crazy Republican before I vote for Clinton.

  80. emjayay says:

    Yes. According to the BLS CPI Inflation Calculator. 1965 and 1968 dollars are in 1964 and 1968 dollars. 2013 dollars are in 2013 dollars. The $23/hr is in 2013 dollars.

  81. Whitewitch says:

    Ohhh okay Ford Perfect….but I liked being able to type hyperbole. I will behave.

  82. emjayay says:

    Yes. But of course with no real pension system retiring at 60 just isn’t realistic. And there are a lot of contributions people older than that can make.
    But other than that, there are about 100 more major reforms needed to reverse the past four decades of corporations and the wealthy stealing all the productivity gains of the entire economy from the rest of us.

  83. GarySFBCN says:

    Wright said something stupid about AIDS and Obama is a politician. Appropriate or not, what Obama did is ‘normal’ within the realm of politics. And frankly, given that every time I’ve been in a church, synagogue, temple, etc, and a ‘leader’ is speaking, they always say some dumbshit stuff, I don’t care that a ‘man of God’ (or charlatan as I prefer to call them) got dumped.

    I think part of the problem for many of us is that we do not view politicians, and especially the POTUS, as anything more than a prostitute. The will do the work if we pay them.

    They are never our friends and they will always be looking for a John with more money or bigger dick. But while they are with us, they are good at making us feel good.

  84. Monoceros Forth says:

    He’s already a flippin’ dictator according to every Republican who opens his mouth. What is there to lose? I’ve had my bellyful with this excuse for why Obama doesn’t ever do anything other than make speeches and punt everything to Congress.

    I suppose this is the flip side to the Republican hysteria about how Obama’s supposedly planning to throw all his enemies into FEMA camps and whatnot. He’s not done it yet but always it’s just round the corner. Similarly, to Obama’s fans, there’s some moment always just round the corner when he’s actually going to do something useful for a change–it’s never this moment though because, you know, he’s keeping the powder dry and all that. Ugh.

  85. emjayay says:

    Name calling is not a useful or acceptable part of any discussion. At least that’s what Sister Georgina told us back in the first grade.

  86. Ford Prefect says:

    Slippery slope: If we all start down-voting our own hyperbole, there would be nothing for the trolls to do!

  87. Ford Prefect says:

    Which is also why we’re almost certainly stuck with her. I can’t even consider it. Dynasties are bad enough and nepotism is revolting in a democracy. Add in ever worsening policy options and… I just don’t see how this ends well.

  88. Whitewitch says:

    That is why Clinton would/is a bad choice for President.

  89. Whitewitch says:

    I wanted to say sheeps clothing – just could not make it work.

  90. Ford Prefect says:

    Rank tribalism means never having to be reasoned about anything.

  91. Whitewitch says:

    This would not be disastrous…disastrous was rolling out the ACA without being ready. There would be so many that would support the President and appreciate his caring that the right wing would finally be DONE.

    P.S. My down vote for hyperbole.

  92. nicho says:

    They should remember that this was the guy who threw Shirley Sherrod under the bus without batting an eye. No principle. No conscience.

  93. Ford Prefect says:

    It works both ways. The GOP started Neo-Liberal governance and the Dems got on the bandwagon with the Clintonoids. Anti-tax (for the wealthy), anti-regulation, anti-labor, anti-environment and redistribute wealth upwards always. Also too, phony “free trade” that undermines national and economic sovereignty and puts advanced economy workers in “competition” with undeveloped economies. That’s what Obama means when he talks about the need for us to be “more competitive.” He really means “poorer.”

  94. nicho says:

    With so many promises reneged on, no one can blame you for forgetting one.

  95. basenjilover says:

    and don’t forget the “outsourcing” of jobs to India, China and latin american countries, all in name of all mighty dollar.

  96. Whitewitch says:

    Thank you for reminding me of this one – frankly I had forgotten his promise. What a fake.

  97. Whitewitch says:

    Down-voters should really have the courage to state why…even if it is to say you are full of BS (which of course you are not). The Obama supporters are not the least bit hesitate to down vote – simply because they assume you are evil because you are not supporting their guy.

  98. Ford Prefect says:

    Those are in constant dollars, correct? Which dollars? 1965 dollars?

  99. Indigo says:

    I’m pretty sure “neoliberal” means Republican dressed as a Democrat but maybe there’s more to it than that.

  100. Whitewitch says:

    100% agree – since they already believe him to be a dictator he has nothing to loose with an executive order re minimum wage. I, myself, do not support executive orders generally, in this instance however, we are talking about helping the poor and growing the economy. The more I make the more I spend type of thing.

  101. Indigo says:

    Good fix but careful with the blue pencil

  102. Indigo says:

    I don’t know why you would characterize a responsible decision like that as dictatorial unless you were using the rhetoric of the Obstructionist Right. Otherwise, what you say doesn’t add up.

  103. emjayay says:

    Minimum wage 1965: $1.25/hr
    Adjusting for inflation to 2013, according to the BLS CPI Inflation Calculator: $9.27

    Minimum wage 1968: $1.60/hr
    Adjusting for inflation to 2013, according to the BLS CPI Inflation Calculator: $10.74

  104. Whitewitch says:

    You mean Republicans in Democrat clothing, like President Obama.

  105. Ford Prefect says:

    Agree with you. Raising the floor won’t decrease inequality nearly as much as lowering the ceiling. Still, politically, it’s easier to lower the ceiling if you’re also raising the floor. One must garner public support somehow and the politics of resentment need to be neutered. So do BOTH.

  106. GarySFBCN says:

    I don’t believe raising the minimum wage a few dollars begins to erase inequality. Even at $22 an hour, nobody could compete with the disgusting abundance of money of the 1%. I do support raising the minimum wage though because it will immediately ease suffering.

    Here in the SF Bay Area, I am now hearing screams of people who used to be called yuppies. They are now being priced-out of neighborhoods by the legions of wealthy social media industry workers, which interestingly, is an industry cluttered with businesses that have never made a profit. But those ‘yuppies’ never acknowledged the damage done to neighborhoods when they moved in, pricing long-term residents out of their homes and now it is happening to them.

    From 5 years ago but very relevant:


  107. Ford Prefect says:

    Disaster? No. Please stop with the defeatism. Obama’s own proposal for the MW isn’t serious at all. He’s still proposing a poverty wage and he knows perfectly well neither House will pass it.

    Obama knows better than most people that if you increase peoples’ incomes, they will like you more than before. Just ask Wall STreet, who have seen astronomical increases in their “incomes” thanks to Obama. And they also get a Get Out Of Jail Free card, precisely because Obama does behave like a dictator at times: He gets to choose which laws to enforce and which to ignore… something which is not possible in a Nation Of Laws, Not Humans.

  108. Naja pallida says:

    I wouldn’t worry, Obama has very little stomach for any kind of executive order action. It was absolutely stunning when he stepped up when the incompetent Congress refused to do anything about the Dream Act.

  109. Naja pallida says:

    Wal-Mart and McDonald’s get the most press, because they’re the ones who could easily afford to pay their workers much more. Paying all their employees a living wage and giving them health benefits would barely put a dent in their multi-billion dollar profits.

  110. Naja pallida says:

    But, but… Texas is hiring more 38 hour-a-week, minimum wage employees with no benefits and no rights than ever before!

  111. Naja pallida says:

    Crawl is being generous. Dragged kicking and screaming would be more accurate. :)

  112. WarrenHart says:

    This would be disastrous political move and give Republicans ammo to sabotage efforts to get the minimum wage raised at all. This needs t happen through the legislative process. The president isn’t a dictator.

  113. perljammer says:

    We know Mr. Obama thinks that economic inequality is the “defining challenge of our time” because he said so.

    Bzzzt! Bullshit detector in critical overload!!

    We know Mr. Obama wants you to believe that because he said economic inequality is the “defining challenge of our time”, that he actually cares and wants to do something about it.

    There — fixed that for you.

  114. nicho says:

    Exactly. What we need is more people with good jobs making way above minimum wage — like we used to have before the neoliberals took over.

  115. Ford Prefect says:

    It’s not a question of one thing or the other. There are a number of things that need to be done to reduce inequality, not just one or two. For decades, we taxed income progressively, which is what held executive pay in check. Under Ike, the top rate was 90%, which is why CEOs were only paid in the hundreds of thousands, not millions. They didn’t want to pay the taxes and there was no real benefit to issuing such massive paychecks.

    If we had pegged the MW to the cost of living back in 1965, it would be more than $22 now. That’s a living wage in most any city right now. Australia pegged theirs and their minimum is now $16 American and will rise with the cost of living, putting a floor on just how poor a working person can be. Pegging it would also put the burden on the Righties to abolish or reverse that which is already in place (thus pissing off most Americans), instead of forcing us to fight to raise it to slightly less impoverishing levels. Pegging the minimum would make it a long-term solution, at least partly. Also progressive income taxes. Also a Tobin Tax. Also raising the tax on dividend income, etc.

  116. GarySFBCN says:

    While I support raising the minimum wage, I don’t think that it is a long-term answer.

    A more sweeping solution would be capping salaries of CEOs, based upon some index of the salaries of ‘working people’ make, mandatory retirement at 60 (keeps unemployment down) and a stronger Social Security system.

    It is income disparity that is killing this country. Raising the minimum wage a few dollars can’t begin to erase the ever-widening gap.

  117. Drew2u says:

    As far as I understand it, that is the correct assumption; yes.

  118. Naja pallida says:

    The real solution with this has nothing to do with the minimum wage at all. The solution is to stop hiring so many “contract workers”, and hire people who actually work full time jobs, as full time federal employees, with actual salaries and benefits. The entire system of contracting out work through some hiring agency, either to avoid liability, avoid paying benefits, or to avoid labor laws, is failing the country miserably. The obliteration of the ability of workers to have any rights due to this system is one of the big reasons why the middle class is being eroded. On top of that, it hasn’t saved the federal government one dime. Hiring private contractors for full time positions is going to be universally more expensive than just hiring an employee. The only marked difference is that the tax payer money drains into private corporate pockets that then sit on most of it, or play financial market games like stock buybacks with it, instead of having most of it go directly to the workers, which then filters back into the real economy.

  119. ronbo says:

    Obama talks the talk and crawls the walk. (like a seasoned corporatized politician)

  120. ronbo says:

    It’s a labor DEPRESSION. And,it’s profitable for the 1%. The fake unemployment numbers are put into perspective when compared to the actual percentage of the American working population. We dropped from about 52% working to 46% after 2008 and it has NEVER recovered – even slightly.

    44,000,000 full-time (with benefits) American jobs evaporated. And corporate profits skyrocketed. It’s class war in two words: Labor Depression.

  121. Ford Prefect says:

    GP nails it again. Reading the speech, I was nearly overcome by the stench of cognitive dissonance wafting from my Smell-O-Vision monitor.

    Shorter Obama: “During my first five years in office and largely thanks to my policies, inequality increased faster than even under Dubya, thanks to the policies laid down mostly when congress was controlled by my party. Now that we’re entering a new election cycle and you “folks” are pissed off at us, we need to pivot to a new Bait & Switch routine. So I’m going to dedicate the next three years to talking about reducing inequality while still pushing policies intended to increase it.

    Perusing the “liberal media,” we see the usual hosannas for daring to use the word “inequality.” Applause follows: “Yay! He used the word!” But little or no mention of the fact his policy preferences will only make it worse, not better. Raising the minimum to $10? Fine. It won’t really reduce inequality very much, but it’s better than nothing. Universal Pre-K? Table scraps and insulting ones at that: “You’re pretty well fucked, but your two-year old might do better in 18 years, assuming she doesn’t end up in poverty and on the bottom of the educational apartheid system we’re currently setting up.”

    TPP alone will make socio-economic progress impossible in this country. BO must know this, because Chris Hayes says Obama has an awesome grasp of the literature on this subject.

  122. cole3244 says:

    talk but no walk has been obama’s approach while in office, he’s closer to the gop side than the left side in action regardless of the rhetoric.

  123. Ford Prefect says:

    Indeed, he went golfing with his Wall Street pals.

  124. Ford Prefect says:

    Given the challenge to domestic governance on offer from TPP, I wonder if a minimum wage would even be legal under that revision of our constitution. The conglomerates can just sue to have it revoked, can they not?

  125. Bill_Perdue says:

    Exactly, nicho.

    Obama promises videos

    public option – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acc6Wn_BWlk

    union busting – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SA9KC8SMu3o

    end the war – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8VlXfs1K04g

  126. nicho says:

    We are talking about the same Obama who said that when workers went on strike for decent wages and working conditions, he would put on a “pair of comfortable shoes and join them.” But when the time came, he put on golf shoes and went golfing — and let the workers twist in the wind. No principles. No conscience.

  127. Drew2u says:

    The AFL-CIO has had a strong presence in Wisconsin over the years, so I’m hoping they already know about the Nurses Union.

  128. Bill_Perdue says:

    Thanks, The fights at Wal Mart and McD are getting most of the press but the truth is that unorganized workers are on the march everywhere.

    These folks should get in touch with one of the fastest growing and most militant unions in the AFL-CIO, National Nurses United. http://www.nationalnursesunited.org

  129. Bill_Perdue says:

    TPP is going to drive wages down and fuel the new bubble. Wall Street is buzzing, and it’s all about bubbles.

    “In fact, according to Google Trends, interest in the term “stock bubble” was higher in November 2013 than anytime since October 2008.

    And that should be expected given that the Dow Jones just broke through the 16,000-mark while the NASDAQ sailed-past the 4,000 milestone for the first time in 13 years. And did I mention that S and P 500 just closed above 1,800 for an all-time high?” http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/12/04/the-stock-market-bubble/

  130. Drew2u says:

    Don’t forget in a speech before that, when confronted with an interrupter speaking out on Immigration, he said, “It’s easy to do things by executive order, I want to do things the difficult way.” [paraphrasing, of course]

    To the point about minimum wages; the President is still pushing the TPP, correct? Wouldn’t having to compete with workers in other countries being paid $0.15/hr decimate the minimum wage? If so, then which is it: raise the minimum wage, or pass the TPP?

  131. Bill_Perdue says:

    There is an economic recovery underway but it’s limited to the rich and their support staff in politics and management.

    There is no recovery for people who work for a living, Frantic union busting of the White House and Democrats and Republicans alike in state houses has led to the continued loss of union jobs. Since Carters regime both parties have enacted 35 plus years of laws that caused a steep drop in wages and benefits for all workers, organized and unorganized. Since 2007, when this depression began, Democrats and Republicans have refused to do anything real about ending unemployment and underemployment the term that describes the practice of many workers who hold down two (or more) jobs just to make do. The lucky few who do get jobs get crappy McJobs – low pay, few hours and zero benefits.

    That situation is entirely and solely the fault of Democrat, Republicans and the rich.

  132. emjayay says:

    Somehow ending the practices of employing people as temps and contract workers when the jobs aren’t really temporary, and part time when they want to be full time and shifting schedules all the time etc. should be a priority as well as increasing the minimum wage immediately to equal what it was at its effective peak in 1968, $11 an hour. And going up from there.

    Of course that means a European Socialist Communist Athiest Satanic level of work regulations. In the US, labor regulations tend to be at the state level, and a lot of states pretty much don’t have any.

  133. emjayay says:

    Like with the end of DADT, Obama always wants to set the stage and create a consensus before doing anything. There is some merit to this. Other than the damages of delaying, this tactic for example in terms of the end of DADT, frustrating as it was, was probably mostly a good thing. The military has been to a major extent although not entirely actually OK with the whole program, after the usual individual prophets of doom had their say. The country was mostly OK with it, after having been Will and Graced and Modern Familied etc. over the years. If he had issued an executive order without all the other stuff first, there would no doubt have been much more resistance of all kinds in implementing changes from within the military.

    But of course the wingnut crowd already thinks he’s a dictator and usurper of presidential power (with no evidence whatsoever – they never noticed Nixon’s “it’s legal if the president says it’s legal” and Reagan’s wholesale subverting of the will of Congress and the Constitution and Bush II’s Unitary Executive theory and adding signing statements that said “nice bill, gonna ignore it.” They like authoritarians, as long as they are their authoritarians. Right wing, and white. Obama is half black and somewhat progressive. That’s more than enough for them obviously.

    In the case of the minimum wage, the consensus is already there. His speech will help. The objectors already think he is a dictator anyway. He should do what he can.

  134. Bill_Perdue says:

    Join the club. Their partisanship is at the expense of the fights for decent wages and for equality.

  135. Bill_Perdue says:

    Terrific post, GP.

    Obama promised to sign an ENDA EO in 2008. He was, like all Democrat and Republican politicians, lying.

    Obama, as a candidate seeking the Democratic nomination to run for president in 2008, was asked by the Houston GLBT Political Caucus if he would support a “formal written policy of non-discrimination that includes sexual orientation and gender identity or expression … for all Federal contractors.”… Obama’s response – according to the survey, a copy of which was provided exclusively to Metro Weekly on condition of anonymity – was one word: “Yes.” … Obama, in responding to the group’s 2008 presidential candidate questionnaire, also stated that his campaign had a “written non-discrimination policy that includes sexual orientation and gender identity.” He added that “[a]n Obama White House will implement a similar non-discrimination policy.” In it, Obama states that he supported such a policy for all federal employees and, in a separate question, for all federal contractors.” http://www.metroweekly.com/news/?ak=7139

    According to Freedom to Work “About one-third of LGBT people are people of color. In a 2012 Gallup poll, one in three LGBT respondents (33%) identified themselves as people of color, compared to 27% of non-LGBT respondents. In all, there are an estimated 5.4 million LGBT workers in the United States, of which 1.8 million are people of color.” http://www.freedomtowork.org/?p=910 Many are employed in big box and fast food stores and make minimum wage, and depending on their hours get an estimated $10 to 12 thousand dollars a year.

    We need to fight for a federal minimum wage of $15.00 an hour with full benefits and that can be easily done by limiting price increases and the profits and dividends of the owners and stockholders until working in these sweatshops are getting good trade union levels of pay and benefits.

    Democrats and Republicans cannot and will not do that because they’re paid political prostitutes who service the rich and betray everyone else. Socialists can and will fight for decent wages and for LGBT equality.

    You can also help by joining the 188,366 people who’ve signed this petition. http://www.change.org/petitions/president-obama-sign-the-executive-order-adding-lgbt-workplace-protections-to-millions-of-american-jobs

  136. nicho says:

    Wow. The Obamabots are downvoting like crazy, but have no defense for Barry. Probably because there isn’t one. Barry, the man who threw his longtime friend and mentor Rev. Wright under the bus in an eyeblink. No principle. No conscience.

  137. nicho says:

    You mean the same Obama who lied and said he never met his Kenyan uncle when he actually had lived with him in MA? That Obama? The guy with no principle and no conscience.


    Meanwhile, the focus on the minimum wage — while it’s important to the well being of a lot of people — is a red herring. It overshadows the fact that the middle class is being deliberately hollowed out and more and more people are being forced into minimum-wage jobs. That’s what the discussion should be about.

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