President Obama to announce higher minimum wage for federal contractors in State of the Union

By Daniel S Levine,

President Barack Obama delivers his fifth State of the Union address tonight to the nation and he is poised to make bold statements, including a direct challenge to Congress on minimum wage. The White House said that he will announce a new, higher minimum wage for new federal contractors and that he will bypass Congress to make sure it happens.

Obama is going to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 for new federal contract workers, using an Executive Order, reports Bloomberg. It will be the first major action for the president after a Cabinet meeting earlier this month, in which he said he plans to make 2014 a year of action.

“We are not just going to be waiting” for legislation to pass, Obama said on Jan. 14. “I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone.” He said he would use these tools to pressure Congress to get more done.

As The Associated Press notes, Obama will have to tread the line between praising the strengthening economy and addressing concerns that the middle class is not seeing anything get better.

“We hope that he does not dwell on the successes of the economy, which may be apparent in employment statistics, the GDP and stock market gains, but which are not felt by folks at the grocery store,” Democratic analysts James Carville and Stan Greenberg wrote in a memo, notes the AP.

Meanwhile, White House chief of staff Denis McDonough went on CBS This Morning and Today to promote the president’s plans, noting that Congress has moved too slow for the executive branch. When it comes to lower approval ratings, “The president doesn’t come down to work every day or go up to the residence every night worried about poll numbers,” McDonough told Today.

Obama’s announcement tonight will affect new contract workers, not currently employed federal workers. It would also only kick in for contract renewals if the terms are amended.

The State of the Union is at 9 p.m.

image: Wikimedia Commons

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