News / USA

Obama Promises Unilateral Action to Reduce Income Inequality

President Obama Promises Unilateral Action to Reduce Income Inequalityi
X
January 29, 2014 1:42 PM
In his annual State of the Union Address to Congress President Barack Obama promised to use executive powers to help the middle class and the poor and reverse a widening income gap between the rich and poor. VOA’s Brian Padden reports that while low wage workers may like what the president is proposing, his conservative critics say measures like imposing a higher minimum wage is bad for business and acting without Congressional approval is bad for democracy.

President Obama Promises Unilateral Action to Reduce Income Inequality

Brian Padden
In his annual State of the Union Address to Congress, President Barack Obama promised to use executive powers to help the middle class and the poor and reverse a widening income gap between the rich and poor.

While low-wage workers may like what the president is proposing, his conservative critics say measures like imposing a higher minimum wage is bad for business and acting without Congressional approval is bad for democracy.

President Obama promised action on raising the minimum wage in his speech to a joint session of Congress.

"In the coming weeks, I will issue an Executive Order requiring federal contractors to pay their federally-funded employees a fair wage of at least $10.10 an hour - because if you cook our troops’ meals or wash their dishes, you shouldn’t have to live in poverty," he said.

The news elicited cheers from worker rights activists with the group Change to Win in Washington, DC. Some of the group’s members, like Robyn Law, come under this action because they work for contractors in government buildings in food preparation and cleaning service jobs. So the president just promised them a raise.

"He just announced it in front of the whole national world. So it's like once you tell us something you cannot, not do it. That's [would be] just like breaking a promise," said Law.

President Obama said the U.S. must do more to reverse a trend toward greater income inequality. Under the Affordable Care Act, millions of low wage workers, he said, will now be eligible for either subsidized or free healthcare. He asked Congress to raise the minimum wage for all Americans, give tax incentives to businesses that create jobs at home, end tax breaks for companies that send jobs overseas, and increase worker training programs. But the president also said if Congress will not act, he will use executive orders, where he can, to impose his agenda.

"I’m eager to work with all of you.  But America does not stand still - and neither will I," he said. "So, wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that’s what I’m going to do.” 

Conservative economists maintain that too much government intervention will make it harder for businesses to grow and create jobs. Republican Congressman Morgan Griffith from Virginia says he is concerned that the president may be exceeding his authority by using executive actions to bypass Congressional opposition. 

"He is supposed to work with Congress to reach these solutions. A failure to be able to do that is a failure of his leadership style," said Griffith. 

Obama has signaled that income inequality will be his domestic focus during the upcoming Congressional elections.  But some critics and supporters have urged the president to engage more with Congress and to focus on areas where both sides agree, like tax breaks for businesses that create good jobs.

You May Like

Multimedia US Nurse ‘Cured of Ebola,’ NIH Says

Nina Pham, Texas nurse who treated first Ebola patient in US, received no experimental drugs; WHO expects vaccine surge in 2015 More

Video Islamic State Militants Encroach on Baghdad

Iraqi capital not under ‘imminent threat,’ US military says, amid worries about foothold More

Video Hong Kong Protesters Focus on Holding Volatile Mong Kok

Activists say holding Mong Kok is key to their movement's success, despite confrontations with angry residents and police More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Justice4PortDrivers from: USA
January 29, 2014 2:22 PM
Lasting economic recovery will be hinged upon the restoration of quality jobs. Port truck drivers, who transport the goods Americans need, are in a national struggle to improve working conditions and earn a fair day’s pay for a hard day’s work. Drivers have had to file millions of dollars of wage claims to get back their own stolen wages. Most port drivers are unlawfully misclassified as "independent contractors" so companies can illegally deduct from their paychecks and deny pay for time worked. Despite still requiring skill and professionalism, port drivers struggle to make ends meet. Port drivers, along with working people across the country, will continue to organize to create a better future for our children. Follow @PortDriverUnion

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid