House Speaker John Boehner today said that President Obama's expected executive order to increase the minimum wage for federal contractors will hurt low-income African-Americans and Hispanics because employers would not be able to afford as many employees.
"I used to be an employer. When you raise the cost of something, you get less of it," Boehner, R-Ohio, said during a news conference on Capitol Hill today. "We know from increases in the minimum wage in the past that hundreds of thousands of low-income Americans have lost their jobs, and so the very people the president purports to help are the ones who are going to get hurt by this.
"When you look at African-Americans and Hispanics, they're the people who never have a chance to get on the economic ladder," he continued.
At his State of the Union address tonight, Obama is expected to announce that he is signing an executive order to increase the minimum wage of federal contract workers to $10.10 per hour and he will also call on Congress to enact legislation to raise the federal minimum wage to the same amount.
Boehner said that while he suspects the president is within his authority to raise the minimum wage for federal contractors, he noted that the executive order only impacts workers who are hired onto future contracts.
"The question is, how many people, Mr. President, will this executive action actually help?" Boehner pondered. "I suspect the answer is somewhere close to zero."
House Republicans head to Cambridge, Md. for their members retreat on Wednesday, where they are expected to announce their principles to guide lawmakers through immigration reform this year in the House.
"We'll have a discussion about immigration reform. We're going to outline our standards, principles of immigration reform and have a conversation with our members," he said. "Once that conversation's over, we'll get a better feel for what members have in mind."
Boehner also said the president's dependence on executive action will be a topic of discussion for his colleagues, who are frustrated he has side-stepped Congress on several occasions.
"But we're going to watch very closely because there's a Constitution that we all take an oath to, including him, and following that Constitution is the basis for our republic and we shouldn't put that in jeopardy," Boehner said, forecasting another future showdown with the White House. "There are options available to us. We're going to have a discussion about that as well at our retreat."