Thursday, January 30, 2014

The President's Minimum Wage EO

Ed Morrisey at Hot Air explains why President Obama's plan to raise the minimum wage for federal contracts will be either meaningless to workers or harmful to taxpayers.

Morrisey points out that to the extent federal contractors still hire hourly workers at minimum wage, any work they do for the government will raise the cost to taxpayers since not only will the people at the bottom of the wage scale have their salaries increased but workers several grades above them will also have to be paid more to keep them ahead of the minimum.

On the other hand, if a federal contractor doesn't employ many minimum wage workers (relatively few workers, other than teenagers and part-timers work for minimum wage) then the President's executive order to raise the minimum wage for contractors doing work for the government is an empty gesture that earns him kudos only from those more inspired by good intentions than by meaningful results.

In any case, the fact that the promise of this EO has been seized upon commentators as the highlight of the President's State of the Union Address is symptomatic of the smallness of the President's aspirations for the remainder of his term. It's not that he doesn't have big dreams, of course, it's that he dare not announce what he'd really like to do - shut down the coal industry, raise taxes and gas prices, implement single-payer health care, diminish the military, expand government control of education, open our borders, severely restrict the second amendment, regulate the internet - because he's very much further to the left on these issues than are the American people, and it's not in his political interest to remind voters of that.

Unwilling to say forthrightly what he'd like to do, and unable, in any event, to get the Republicans or the nation to go along with his radical vision for the country, the President finds himself nibbling around the margins of American social policy. It's a recipe for three more years of stagnation. Given the alternative, though, stagnation may not be an altogether bad thing.