If there’s one thing we know about President Trump, it’s that he truly wants his policies to raise wages for American workers. Or, at any rate, he truly wants American workers to think that his policies are raising their wages.
Trump promised “more jobs and better wages” in his keynote economic campaign speech. A year later he claimed that his corporate tax cuts meant a “a 4,000 pay raise” for a typical American household. And when the latest government data showed wage rates falling year-on-year after Congress passed his tax cuts, he had his Council of Economic Advisers issue a 32 page report explaining that earnings are actually increasing. At least, if you take into account factors like employer contributions to health insurance and disregard the fact that by this measure pay was increasing faster under Obama.
But if Trump really wants to convince American workers that he’s serious about boosting their paychecks, he has a tool at his disposal that would work better than trickle down tax cuts and economic goal-post shifting. As CEO of the federal government, Trump oversees over $1.5 trillion in awards to private business in contracts and grants. In our PromisesBroken #1 report we found that this spending directly supports 12.5 million private sector jobs of which over 4.5 million pay less than a poverty wage rate of $15 per hour. That’s more than the number of low-wage workers employed by America’s top-20 firms combined.
As President, Trump has the power under the 1959 Procurement Act to issue “policies and directives” for contracting without the need for new legislation. Four years ago President Obama used this power to set the minimum wage for workers on federal contracts at $10.10 per hour. Since then the economy has grown, and unemployment has fallen. But so far, Trump’s only action using his Procurement Act power has been to exclude workers on National Park from coverage under Obama’s order. Instead, Trump should pick up the pen and guarantee the millions of worker on federal contracts a liveable wage.