Friday, December 6, 2013

Obama's Executive Order to Raise Minimum Wage

In his speech this week, President Obama said, "It's well past the time to raise a minimum wage that, in real terms right now, is below where it was when Harry Truman was in office."

The National Journal reports that the chairmen of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), Reps. Raul Grijalva and Keith Ellison, had hand-delivered a letter to President Obama after his speech that had urged the Obama to circumvent Congress and sign an executive order to raise the minimum wage for workers employed through federal government via contracts with private companies.

This letter came months after 49 members of the CPC had already earlier requested the same thing from the President, only to hear radio silence about it from the White House. The letter said:

"In this case, when you take all of the people this could affect—from folks who sew military uniforms to the men and women cleaning up after tourists at the Smithsonian or Union Station, to workers at the National Zoo—it adds up."

The Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics once asked why some Air Force service members deployed to Afghanistan were twice issued Chinese-made boots, and were only able to receive a pair of American-made boots after the Air Force Times reported the story.

Then the House of Representatives passed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization bill sponsored by Rep. Mike Michaud that would require any footwear provided to members of the Armed Forces upon initial entry be made in America.

Some lawmakers are asking the Pentagon to answer questions about why certain service branches have received waivers to a law that requires all pieces of military uniforms to be American made. Since 1941, due to the Berry Amendment, a soldier’s entire uniform, including training equipment, was required to be made entirely in America.

But many U.S. companies' labor standards are so weak, they could lose military contracts to foreign competitors. Many U.S. companies -- including retail giants like Gap and Walmart -- in theory won't have met a labor standard deeming their labels worthy of being sold on U.S. military bases.

Rand Paul is against the Davis-Bacon wage requirements that privilege union shops in contract bids. He'll introduce a bill in the Senate that he says will make economically depressed areas in Detroit more attractive to business and investors --- even though poor people and those in Detroit who are having their pensions stolen, will have no money to spend.

Department of Labor: "The Davis-Bacon and Related Acts, apply to contractors and subcontractors performing on federally funded or assisted contracts in excess of $2,000 for the construction, alteration, or repair (including painting and decorating) of public buildings or public works."

Oddly, a Federal Trade Commission rule for "Made in America" might clash with a new rule reclassifying imports as part of domestic GDP, because it considers "ownership":

Have you ever heard of factoryless manufacturers? By redefining global outsourcing as ownership at the intermediate stages of manufacturing, multinational corporations can offshore plants, capital, jobs and services overseas --- but because they own it, this redefinition will make global production a part of the U.S. domestic economy. So Apple iPhones (that are manufactured in China), instead of being classified as an "imports", can probably be stamped with the Made in the USA label, and legally comply with the Fair Trade Commission's rules (and also artificially driving the government's reported GDP, making our economy appear better than it really is).

According to a report from the progressive think tank Demos, there were nearly 2 million private sector workers funded by public dollars (from direct federal contracts as well as federal health care spending, loans through the Small Business Administration, infrastructure grants, and janitors cleaning federal buildings leased from private companies) making less than $12 an hour in 2012. That's more than the number of people working at Walmart and McDonalds combined.

Like I've always said, Speaker of the House John Boehner is a [drunk] liar --- the government DOES create jobs, and always has been the largest "job creator" --- as opposed to the private sector, who offshores the best jobs to low-wage countries.

In 1965 President Lyndon Johnson signed an executive order arming the secretary of Labor with enforcement authority to ensure equal opportunities for minorities in federal contractors' recruitment, hiring, and training. But Republican lawmakers likely won't see this as a precedent or a justification to raise the minimum wage.

The majority of Republicans have always opposed to raising the minimum wage at all. "I think it's outlived its usefulness," said Rep. Joe Barton of Texas. "It may have been of some value back in the Great Depression. I would vote to repeal the minimum wage."

So if Obama were to use his executive authority to raise the minimum wage, there would be Republican anger, but then again, that wouldn't be any different from any other normal day.

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