(2014-06-20) — As President Obama announced today that he’ll use executive orders to extend marriage benefits to same sex couples employed by the government and its contractors, the president surprised many by declaring he would give such benefits to another marginalized group.
Under the draft plan, non-government employees — long treated as second-class citizens — would qualify for the sumptuous health care, pension, travel stipends, leisurely work pace and other benefits traditionally conferred only upon those who draw their paychecks from the U.S. Treasury.
“In America, we don’t discriminate against you because of who you worship, who you love or who you work for,” the president said at a White House news conference.
“This decision was very personal for Michelle and me,” Mr. Obama added. “We looked at our beautiful daughters and thought, ‘What if Sasha can’t get a government job? What if Malia winds up working in a factory or the service industry? Shouldn’t they be treated equally with their neighbors who are employed by the taxpayers?'”
Advisers admit the president’s views on government benefits for non-government employees have “evolved” during the past few years, and he wasn’t ready to go public with his new position, but an aggressively inquisitive White House press corps forced his hand.
In a vain attempt to prevent the news from leaking out, the White House communications office had confined Vice President Joe Biden to his residence, and locked down his Twitter account. But many Washington observers thought Mr. Obama tipped his hand with moves to extend unemployment benefits, raise the minimum wage and take over the private health care system.