Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Highlights of Obama's vision for 2014

By Robert Borosage

Minimum Wage Center Stage in SOTU

Minimum wage centerpiece of 2014 agenda. CNN: “[President Obama] asked Congress to get on board with a Democratic proposal to raise the federal minimum to $10.10 per hour. But he also urged everyone from companies to small businesses, mayors, governors and state legislators not to wait for Congress … Obama also promised an executive order to raise the minimum wage for some government contract workers. While the action is relatively narrow and affects less than half a million people, the hope is that this will spur Congress to follow suit for all low-wage workers in the U.S. … If the legislation passed, a full-time minimum wage worker would see a bump in pay from about $15,000 a year to roughly $21,000. That could lift a family of three above the poverty line.
The increase directly and indirectly could raise pay for up to 28 million workers…”
Obama announces 12 executive actions in SOTU. “Raising the Minimum Wage through Executive Order to $10.10 for Federal Contract Workers … A New Starter Savings Account to Help Millions Save for Retirement … four new [manufacturing] institutes through executive action this year … Government-wide Review of Federal Training Programs … the President will convene a group of CEOs and other leaders around supporting best practices for hiring the long-term unemployed …”
And urges passage of infrastructure legislation. The Hill: “Lawmakers in the House and Senate are currently conferencing on an $8.2 billion bill to boost ports and waterways known as the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). The chambers are also in the early stages of considering a renewal of the current surface transportation bill, which authorizes the 18.4 cents-per-gallon federal gas tax that pays for most federal transportation projects. There is an approximately $20 billion shortfall between the amount of revenue the gas tax brings and the $54 billion per year that is currently being spent by the federal government on road and transit projects. Obama suggested on Tuesday night that lawmakers ‘take the money we save with this transition to tax reform to create jobs rebuilding our roads, upgrading our ports, unclogging our commutes…’”
Obama to highlight state-level minimum wage initiatives. AP: “An appearance this morning (Wednesday) at a Costco in Lanham, Md ., gave Obama an opportunity to highlight efforts that many states are undertaking to try to improve wages for their workers. Maryland’s Democratic governor is pushing to raise the state’s minimum wage to $10.10.”

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