House Speaker John Boehner denounced President Obama’s executive order to raise the minimum wage for new federal contract workers Tuesday morning, saying the move “affects absolutely no one.”
Boehner’s rebuttal came shortly after the White House revealed that Obama will use his executive powers to increase the minimum wage for new federal contract workers to $10.10 after past legislative attempts to do so have stalled in a gridlocked Congress.
“This morning’s announcement, you should all know, affects no current contracts, only future contracts,” the top Republican said at his annual State of the Union day breakfast, according to NBC News. “And somebody might want to ask the White House, ‘well how many people is this going to affect?’ Because I suspect it affects absolutely no one.”
At a later press conference, Boehner said House Republicans will evaluate constitutional options in the face of executive actions from the president.
“House Republicans will continue to look closely at whether the president is faithfully executing the laws as he took an oath to do,” said Boehner. “Now I think dealing with federal contracts and the minimum wage, he probably has the authority to do that. But we’re going to watch very closely because there is a constitution we all take an oath to, including him. And following that is the basis for our republic and we shouldn’t put that in jeopardy.”
The House Speaker was seemingly more forthright at Tuesday’s breakfast, and warned the president of consequences should he decide to go too far with his executive authority.
“This idea that he’s just going to go it alone. Going have to remind him we do have a Constitution and the Congress writes the laws. The president’s job is to execute the laws faithfully. And if he tries to ignore this, he’s going to run into a brick wall,” Boehner told reporters.
“We’re just not going to sit here and let the president trample all over us,” Boehner added.
Urging Congress to work together to pass the Harkin-Miller bill, the White House said in a release that the executive action will apply to future government contracts, as Boehner pointed out in his news conference. The White House also highlighted occupations that will benefit from a higher minimum wage, construction workers at government sites, janitors at federal buildings, and kitchen staff on military bases.
During his second term in office, Obama has pressed wages and economic inequality, a theme that he will most likely call upon in his State of the Union address. “[The president] views 2014 as a year of action and that he has tasked his team to come up with new ways in which we can - he can - advance that agenda,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said at his Monday briefing.
But Boehner argued that hikes in the federal minimum wage have incurred greater losses than gains.
“When it comes to the federal minimum wage – listen, I used to be an employee – when you raise the cost of something, you get less of it. And we know from increases in the minimum wage in the past that hundreds of thousands of low income Americans have lost their jobs,” he said.
The top House Republican then argued that boosting wages will deeply hurt minority communities. “So the very people the president purports to help are the ones who are going to get hurt by this,” Boehner said. “When you look at African-Americans and Hispanics, they’re the people who never have a chance to get on the economic ladder. It’s bad policy and it will hurt the very people the president purports to help.”
Boehner’s comments are not far from his previous rejection of Obama’s minimum wage proposal a year ago. In fact, Boehner argued once more that raising wages would decrease the number of jobs.
After Obama urged Congress to raise the minimum wage federally to $9 an hour at his 2013 State of the Union address, Boehner shot down the president’s proposal the following day.
“When you raise the price of employment, guess what happens? You get less of it,” Boehner told reporters in February 2013. “At a time when the American people are still asking the question, ‘Where are the jobs?’ why would we want to make it harder for small employers to hire people?”