Day: 2014.12.22

Worth Keeping an Eye On

The White House

Sometimes it feels nearly head versus wall:

Progressives are angry at the president for caving in to Republicans on the CRomnibus budget bill, and rightly so—the rollback of post-Great Recession regulations on financial derivatives is simply inexcusable. But there is a way for President Obama to win back his party’s base with a bold strike on behalf of the middle class: Raise the overtime pay threshold.

Overtime pay is to the middle class what the minimum wage is to low-wage workers. In 1975, more than 65 percent of salaried American workers earned time-and-a-half pay for every hour worked over 40 hours a week, but by 2013, that number had dropped to less than 11 percent. That’s because the income threshold at which employers are required to pay overtime has been allowed to erode to only $23,660 a year, less than the poverty line for a family of four. The 89 percent of salaried workers who now earn over that threshold can be forced to work unlimited overtime hours for no additional pay at all ....

.... But it doesn’t have to be this way: President Obama could raise the overtime threshold to $69,000—enough to cover the same 65 percent of salaried workers that it covered 40 years ago—and with no prior congressional approval. Because unlike the minimum wage, the overtime threshold is set through the Department of Labor’s existing regulatory authority.

(Hanauer)

And if we find ourselves thinking there must be a catch, there probably is. The first thing to mind, for instance, is that American corporations will revisit the question of which jobs they need to keep close by, and which can be shipped overseas. Then again, even the executives will hedge before they send their expense reports to Bangalore.

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Hanauer, Nick. “Give Americans the overtime pay they’ve earned”. The Hill. 18 December 2014.

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