The so-called “Fight for $15” labor movement has already attracted self-proclaimed socialist, Sen. Bernie Sanders, and might-as-well-be-self-proclaimed socialist, Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
But now they have their sights on someone even bigger: Barack Obama.
Fight for $15 wants, obviously, to hike minimum wage to $15 an hour. Some smaller jurisdictions, like the city of Seattle, have done that–and, since then, there have been numerous reports of small businesses shutting down and firing all their employees simply because payroll is too high.
In a public letter sent by Senators Sanders and Warren to the White House begged Barack Obama not to just advocate for a higher minimum wage–but to step around Congress to do so.
“Mr. President, the stroke of your pen can have transformative impact for millions of workers,” Sanders and Warren wrote. “We urge you to harness the power of the presidency to help these workers achieve the American Dream.”
Obama has issued some executive orders with similar effect: he’s forced the Labor Department to make more workers eligible for overtime pay, and he’s hiked the minimum wage for federal employees to $10.10 an hour.
But, while Obama has the leeway to do that inside the federal government–he is their ultimate boss, after all–he very clearly lacks the legal ability to do so with the private sector. The minimum wage, along with interstate commerce, is constitutionally the responsibility of Congress.
Not that that’s stopped him in the past.
Regardless of the pipe dreams of Warren and Sanders, it remains to be seen whether Obama is amenable to hiking the minimum wage by nearly double to $15–but if he does, the impact on the job market would be catastrophic.