Thomas Jefferson and the Great Executive Overreach

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You have probably heard by now that Barack Obama intends to raise the minimum wage for employees hired to fulfill new government contracts-and that he will do this under his own executive authority. The other side is up in arms.

“He’s the president of the United States — he’s not a king,” said Representative Michelle Bachman, as she exhorted Congress to sue the president in her response to the State of the Union address. Glenn Beck, who recently apologized for his role in degrading political discourse, said only that “this was the State of the Union where our president declared he would become America’s first dictator.”

I have no doubt that this is exactly how Hitler would have raised contract employee salaries. However, at the risk of seeming to minimize the constitutional seriousness of the national executive determining how much to pay federal workers, I would point out that other presidents have wielded their executive power in ways almost as serious.

 

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