The latest of Obama’s imperial moves:
Business groups and congressional Republicans are blasting regulations President Obama will announce Thursday that could extend overtime pay to as many as 10 million workers who are now ineligible for it…
“This came as a shot out of the blue,” said David French, the National Retail Federation’s senior vice president for government relations. “Just on the surface, this looks like an enormous new administrative burden.”…
Current regulations require employers to pay overtime to salaried workers making less than $455 a week. Obama’s proposal would redefine which employees can be classified as “executive or professional” and thus ineligible for overtime pay…
But the plan could backfire if employers choose to limit the hours of employees or cut their base pay to account for expected overtime.
No one seems to have seen this coming. I would say that the details of what Obama will do are sometimes hard to predict—what will his next target be?—but the broad outlines are very very clear.
Note this important sentence:
McCutchen presided over the last update to overtime regulations, which took well over a year to complete a decade ago, and were the subject of an intense fight in Congress.
“An intense fight in Congress?” That’s for chumps—those without a pen and a phone. For other presidents, the ones who had a hostile press to deal with, or a Congress they respected and/or feared.
Ed Morrissey at Hot Air writes an excellent article that points out the following:
[The proposed change is] not really executive overreach, though. Unlike the minimum wage, which is set by statute and has to be amended by Congress, the definition of overtime exemption is handled by Department of Labor regulation. However, that regulatory process takes quite a long time, and it may be months or even into next year before Labor can act on the directive from Obama. Business groups and Congress will weigh in on the proposal, and no doubt Republicans will demand a CBO analysis of the impact of this change, too.
And … what is the proposal, anyway? No one knows, and the White House isn’t saying…
Can Obama do this on his own? Yes, within the parameters of regulatory changes at Labor, and the White House has already said it will respect that process. Should he? Republicans and the business community will have trouble defending the current definition, but this ignores the real problems of the economy – and may well aggravate them, especially if the redefinition is as sharp as Bernstein wants. It’s recutting a shrinking pie rather than figuring out how to make it larger, and it’s bound to fail in every way except perhaps politically — and even that win will be minor and short-lived.
“Except politically”? But for Obama and most Democrats, there is no other consideration except the political. And minor and short-lived is good enough, because they need whatever they can get. This is the sort of regulatory change that looks good on the surface to a lot of people but probably isn’t in terms of its long-term and unintended consequences. It’s the “good on the surface” part that matters politically, though.
Here’s an old article about that earlier “intense fight” over similar issues. It occurred in 2004:
The House voted 223 to 193 yesterday to block the Bush administration’s sweeping new eligibility rules for overtime pay, giving Democrats a significant victory that they hope will boost the party’s standing among middle-class voters in key battleground states in the fall election.
The article goes on to describe the factions, the battle in Congress, and the issues, which seem to include a similar regulatory change over the definition of who is exempt because “they perform certain supervisory or managerial tasks.” Sure seems similar, and yet the regulatory change was submitted to Congress. It all seems very quaint now, doesn’t it?
Obama’s entire presidency has been one long test. Little by little he has been pushing and pushing to see how much pushback there will be. He has discovered there hasn’t been much that’s been effective.