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

Video Obama to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, President says US will take leadership role for a global response to deadly Ebola virus that is ravaging West Africa More

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa 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.
NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Spacei
X
September 17, 2014 4:20 AM
The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid