When it comes to fair pay for U.S. workers, so much of the nation’s attention — and the Democrats’ rhetoric — is focused on the debate about the minimum wage. As Western Journalism has reported, the $15-per-hour demand by employees of fast food restaurants — supported by union bosses and political grandstanders — has been all over the news. Just two days ago, we told you about the Democrat-driven push for a $15 hourly minimum in the state of New York, a move that — if the wage is okayed by a three-person panel — could force up to 20% of fast food outlets in the Empire State to close their doors.
But the hotly debated pros and cons of a hefty hike in the minimum wage are serving as a useful distraction for a president more intent on making an executive move that would impose a substantial wage hike for millions of workers who are paid far more than the mandated minimum. It’s an administrative action that a post on Politico describes as “the most ambitious government intervention on wages in a decade.”
As early as this week, the Labor Department could propose a rule that would raise the current overtime threshold — $23,660 – to as much as $52,000, extending time and a half overtime pay to millions of American workers.
And as with so many actions by the Obama administration, this massive new wage hike wouldn’t require legislative authority, meaning the president could change the rules of the game for an untold number of U.S. businesses without approval from Congress.
However, that doesn’t mean that lawmakers on Capitol Hill — especially Republicans in the House and Senate — wouldn’t try to block the anticipated wage hike by Obama’s Department of Labor. Politico says the battle lines are already being drawn, even though the overtime rule change hasn’t been formally proposed by the administration.
“Sen. Lamar Alexander, chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee, said the rule — sight unseen — ‘seems engineered to make it as unappealing as possible to be an employer creating jobs in this country.’”
The United States Chamber of Commerce — in a nine-page letter to Labor Secretary Thomas Perez — warns that any changes to overtime rules “threaten to upend years of settled law, create tremendous confusion, and have a significantly disruptive effect on millions of workplaces.”
The Economic Policy Institute estimates the new overtime threshold the president wants to mandate would give a raise to as many as ten million salaried workers, some 12% of the American workforce.
Politico notes that, despite their campaign speeches about the need for a higher minimum wage, at least two Democrats challenging Hillary Clinton for the 2016 presidential nomination have already taken up the banner of more overtime pay for U.S. workers whose votes they’re courting.
“In announcing his candidacy May 30 former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley called for ‘overtime pay for overtime work.’ Sen. Bernie Sanders did the same in his May 26 kick-off speech in Burlington, Vt., calling it a ‘scandal’ that ‘millions of American employees, often earning less than $30,000 a year, work 50 or 60 hours a week— and earn no overtime.’”
This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth