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Policy: Labor

Keith Ellison: Obama has surrounded himself with too many from big business

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Beltway Confidential,White House,Sean Higgins,Barack Obama,Jobs,Labor,Economy,Analysis

Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, charged on Tuesday that President Obama is not keeping his promises to protect low-wage workers.

Ellison was one of four Democratic House lawmakers signing a letter to Obama Tuesday demanding that the chief executive address reports that government contractors are violating federal wage laws.

The letter’s other signers include Reps. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., and John Lewis, D-Ga.

They claim the administration has turned a blind eye to “federal collusion with vendors and contractors that pay low wages to their employees at federal sites … Although these contractors enjoy the prestige and get revenue at prime federal locations, the federal government washes its hand of these workers, leaving them with exploitative wages.”

In an interview posted on the Nation’s website Tuesday, Ellison resisted blaming Obama himself but nevertheless said the administration was doing a bad job:

Asked why he believes President Obama has not taken more executive action on standards for federal contractors, Congressman Keith Ellison told The Nation, “I think what’s preventing him is the people he puts around him…. If [GE CEO] Jeff Immelt is the head of your jobs thing, and somebody from Walmart is the head of your OMB, you know, what kind of advice are you getting around low-wage workers?”

He added that he was against “villainizing” Obama. “It’s the system — it’s not the person … I think we could almost fairly be described as a plutocracy now.”

What Ellison avoids mentioning is that the person who surrounded the president with these plutocrats was … the president himself. He could have made other choices, but these are the people he wanted.

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Sean Higgins

Senior Writer
The Washington Examiner