The New York Times reported this morning (echoing the reporting of Greg Sargent and others earlier this year) that Democrats plan to campaign on raising the minimum wage during the election season. Aside from being good economic policy, raising the minimum wage is quite popular, even among moderates and conservatives. Democrats also hope it shows the party is focused on improving the economic fortunes of Americans and not getting bogged down in Beltway bickering.
It’s a terrific idea. And there’s one way President Obama can show he takes the issue seriously: by issuing an executive order raising the minimum wage for 2 million federal contractors. This, too, is good policy, and the president is likely to get significant pressure from his left flank to do so.
More than half a million employees of federal contractors make less than $12 an hour, according to a study by the progressive think tank Demos. When the National Employment Law Project interviewed more than 500 federal contract workers who work in service-industry type jobs, sew military uniforms and drive trucks, more than 70 percentmade less than $10 an hour.