Liberals were downcast when President Joe Biden’s push for a $15 minimum wage faltered in Congress, but he is doing what he can unilaterally to make progress on the policy goal.
With the stroke of a pen Tuesday, Biden established a $15 minimum wage for hundreds of thousands of federal contract workers, the Washington Examiner reported. The executive order goes into effect for all agencies no later than March 2022.
Calls it a modest hike
The White House is presenting the hike as a modest but positive step with effectively no downsides, claiming it will not lead to job losses or a burden on taxpayers. They insist the costs will be offset by a reduction in turnover and increased productivity.
“The effect on employment we think is going to be minimal if any, and that’s what the Council of Economic Advisers found as well,” an official told the Examiner.
The last time federal contract workers received a minimum wage hike was under president Obama, who set it at $10.10, indexed for inflation, in 2014.
The new order covers tipped workers left out of the last increase and marks an overall 37% boost from the current rate of $10.95.
Biden was unable to include a $15 minimum wage in his $2 trillion COVID relief plan, which was passed without a single Republican vote through a rare process called budget reconciliation.
But leftists are feeling emboldened as Biden, long seen as a bi-partisan “moderate,” pushes ahead with a wildly ambitious, multi-trillion dollar agenda.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), the most high-profile advocate of a $15 minimum wage, praised Biden and called on Congress to end “starvation wages.”
“I applaud President Biden’s important action to raise the minimum wage for federal contract workers to $15 an hour. Congress should follow his lead and end starvation wages for the rest of the nation. Let’s get it done,” he said.
Amid fears of inflation, Biden is pushing major tax hikes to pay for his $2.3 trillion “infrastructure” bill, the American Jobs Plan, and a $1.8 trillion bill announced Wednesday, the American Families Plan.