President Obama made good on a threat…ah, promise…yesterday and, using that executive order pen he likes to talk about and wave around, raised the minimum wage for federal contractors from $7.25 to $10.10, representing a nearly 40% spike:
Mr. Obama said the federal minimum wage needs to be raised across the board because the current rate, due to inflation, “is worth about 20% less than it was when Ronald Reagan took office – 20% less, a fifth less.”
The move is the first step in a broader fight over the minimum wage being pushed by Democrats during an election year and part of the president’s effort to narrow the income inequality gap. (Our colleagues at the Real Time Economics blog take a look at who benefits from a higher minimum wage.)
Now, it’s just for federal contractors — with, to WSJ’s point, an eye toward a campaign issue — but it’s still not a very good sign because it’s likely a shallow move to gain political favor that sets a bad example for a couple of different reasons.
First, it’s yet another swipe at Congress who, as much as they are fairly maligned, are still the colleagues with whom our President must work. And quotes like this one are, frankly, rude and counter productive:
President Obama clearly believes what Nixon once said, that if the president does it, it’s not illegal. Now, he’s trying to circumvent the law that helps protect patient privacy in order to restrict millions of Americans from buying firearms.
President Barack Obama said he wants to see state governments contribute more names of people barred from buying guns to the database, part of a sweeping set of executive actions he announced after a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in December.
The database, called the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, is used by gun dealers to check whether a potential buyer is prohibited from owning a gun.
States are encouraged to report to the database the names of people who are not allowed to buy guns because they have been involuntarily committed to a mental hospital, or have been found to have serious mental illnesses by courts.
Many states do not participate. So the administration is looking at changing a health privacy rule - part of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) - to remove one potential barrier.
Here’s the problem with that. You see, the law actually prevents people who have been adjudicated from owning firearms. It says nothing about specific diagnosis. It requires a court to determine an individual is unfit to own firearms.
President Obama seeks to skirt two laws in one fell swoop.
Unsurprisingly, gun rights advocates have reacted, sending thousands of letters to the Health and Human Services Department. However, the department also received a number of comments from health professionals.
Earlier this week, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), son of former Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), slammed over the measures President Barack Obama planned to take in what the White House claimed was an effort to curb violence.
During the interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network, Sen. Paul explained, “I’m against having a king,” adding that a president who creates law by executive fiat is runs counter to the government formed by the Founding Fathers. “I think having a monarch is what we fought the American Revolution over and someone who wants to bypass the Constitution, bypass Congress — that’s someone who wants to act like a king or a monarch.”
Sen. Paul warned that the White House would have a fight on his hands if he signed any executive orders that bypassed Congress. On Thursday, the day after President Obama’s press conference where he announced that he would sign 23 executive orders dealing with guns, Sen. Paul announced that he would introduce legislation to protect the Second Amendment from executive fiat:
As published by Talking Points Memo, here are his intentions in what he calls the “Separation of Powers Restoration and Second Amendment Protection Act.”
Paul says his legislation will declare that “Any executive order by President Obama infringing on the Second Amendment rights of all Americans would be declared null and void” and “would prohibit federal funds to implement President Obama’s executive orders impacting the 2nd Amendment.”
The meeting yesterday between Vice President Joe Biden’s gun control task force and the National Rifle Association didn’t go that well. Biden is expected to hand his recommendations to President Barack Obama on Tuesday, who will, in turn, push for legislation from Congress to enact them.
In addition to reintroducing the assault weapons ban and trying to eliminate the so-called “gun show loophole,” Biden laid down some of the policies that will be pursued by the White House in Congress in the coming days:
Biden gave the most detailed description so far of what his panel will propose, telling sporting groups at the start of their session that there is broad consensus among those he has surveyed to require background checks on all gun purchases and to restrict the amount of ammunition that can be included in a gun magazine.
After the meeting the NRA issued a statement explaining, “While claiming that no policy proposals would be ‘prejudged,’ this Task Force spent most of its time on proposed restrictions on lawful firearms owners — honest, taxpaying, hardworking Americans.”
Some may be questioning why the NRA even entertained the White House when the outcome was so obvious. From a standpoint of public perception, it’s not like they had much of a choice. If they didn’t go, it would look like they weren’t even interested in a discussion. But if they did go, they provided the White House with a talking point that they had “met with the NRA.” It was a lose-lose for them.
This past weekend, FreedomWorks, a free market organization with strong ties to the grassroots and Tea Party, hosted Free the People, an event that brought together thousands of people from across the country to hear speakers and receive activist training to utilize back home.
Among the speakers was Rafael Cruz, father of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). During his 11-minute talk, Cruz told the crowd about how he left Cuba as a teenager as Fidel Castro was beginning his “revolution” to come to the United States. He also explained that the consolidation of power by the executive branch today is all too reminiscent of what he experienced in Cuba and urged activists to fight for freedom.
“I grew up in Cuba under a strong military, oppressive dictatorship. So as a teenager I found myself involved in a revolution. I remember during that time a young, charismatic leader rose up, talking about hope and change. His name was Fidel Castro,” recalled Cruz. “And, you know, we all followed him. We thought he was going to be our liberator. As a result of being involved in the revolution, I was imprisoned, I was tortured.”
Cruz explained that he was able to get out of Cuba on a student visa. He got a job as a dishwasher and paid for his education at the University of Texas. But he went back to Cuba in 1959 after Castro’s regime had taken over and, he said, he got the shock of his life.
With President Barack Obama implementing new climate change regulations through the EPA without the consent of Congress, many Republicans are noting the threat that unilateral executive action represents to our constitutional system of checks-and-balances.
During a speech from the House floor on Friday, Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) cited some examples of President Obama’s unilateralism and noted that it takes the decision making process out of the hands of Congress, the representatives of the people.
“The President decided to raise energy prices on all Americans, which adversely affects the poor the most, and he didn’t ask Congress. The President decided to unilaterally reduce our strategic nuclear deterrent when more countries than ever have nuclear weapons — [with] no treaty that would require consent of the Senate,” said Bridenstine. “The President decided which health insurance plans the people are allowed to have. The President didn’t ask Congress or the people, for that matter. The list goes on.”
“In America, we are either moving more towards liberty or more towards tyranny,” continued Bridenstine. “Well, I think we should ask ourselves what tyranny would look like in the United States of America.”
After recounting some recent events, Bridenstine noted that the result of a president ruling by executive fiat would limit the power of the legislative branch and greatly diminish the representation of the people. “The President told us that he would fundamentally transform America,” he recalled, “and I think that is exactly what he is doing.”
Watch Bridenstine’s remarks below:
As Americans were preparing to celebrate the Easter weekend, President Barack Obama quietly signed an executive order that establishes the “Presidential Commission of Election Administration.” This nine-member panel will, according to the release from the White House, make recommendations to promote the efficient administration of elections in order to ensure that all eligible voters have the opportunity to cast their ballots without undue delay.”
During the State of the Union address, President Obama addressed the reports of long lines at polling places around the country, using an example out of Florida, one of the areas of the country that experienced problems.
“We should follow the example of a North Miami woman named Desiline Victor. When she arrived at her polling place, she was told the wait to vote might be six hours,” President Obama said during his speech to the joint session of Congress. ”And as time ticked by, her concern was not with her tired body or aching feet, but whether folks like her would get to have their say.”
Hour after hour, a throng of people stayed in line in support of her,” he continued. “Because Desiline is 102 years old. And they erupted in cheers when she finally put on a sticker that read ‘I Voted.’”
The commission, which will have six months to report its finding to the White House after its first meeting, will consider a number of points dealing with voter experience at the polls, including:
Don’t look now, folks, but the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) is making a comeback thanks to President Barack Obama.
Between the end of 2011 and early 2012, online activists were able to raise a firestorm over legislation — Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), PROTECT IP Act (PIPA), and CISPA — that would have severely diminished Internet privacy. Thanks to the outcry, all three bills eventually died.
According to a report yesterday from The Hill, President Obama will on Wednesday sign an executive order — completely bypassing Congress, which is becoming an all too familar pattern with this White House — that will implement cybersecurity measures from against attack on the United States:
The White House is poised to release an executive order aimed at thwarting cyberattacks against critical infrastructure on Wednesday, two people familiar with the matter told The Hill.
The highly anticipated directive from President Obama is expected to be released at a briefing Wednesday morning at the U.S. Department of Commerce, where senior administration officials will provide an update about cybersecurity policy.
The executive order would establish a voluntary program in which companies operating critical infrastructure would elect to meet cybersecurity best practices and standards crafted, in part, by the government.
With President Obama set to issue a series of executive orders today dealing with guns, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is speaking out against what is a clear overreach of power. During an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network, Sen. Paul explained that President Obama is behaving like a king, which is exactly what the Founding Fathers fought against.
“I’m against having a king,” said Sen. Paul. “I think having a monarch is what we fought the American Revolution over and someone who wants to bypass the Constitution, bypass Congress — that’s someone who wants to act like a king or a monarch.”
While President Obama thinks he’s getting around Congress with these executive orders, Sen. Paul warned, “[W]e will fight tooth and nail; and I promise you that there will be no rock left unturned as far as trying to stop him from usurping the Constitution, running roughshod over Congress, and you will see one heck of a debate if he decides to try to do this.”