On Thursday, President Obama will reportedly direct the Labor Department to significantly broaden the number of American workers eligible for overtime pay. The new rules don't require congressional approval, but they won't take effect until after a public comment period. And there will be lots of comments.
Under the proposed rules, businesses would find it harder to avoid paying middle managers, shift supervisors, and other salaried "professional" workers overtime. The current rules were written by the George W. Bush administration in 2004. The new changes "would potentially shift billions of dollars' worth of corporate income into the pockets of workers," say Michael D. Shear and Steven Greenhouse at The New York Times.
The opponents and proponents of the measure fall along pretty predictable lines: The Chamber of Commerce, other business lobbyists, and conservative think-tanks are opposed to the change; labor unions and liberal economists think it's a great way to move some of the record corporate profits into the hands of workers. Jared Bernstein, the former chief economic adviser to Vice President Joe Biden, generally applauds the move, but he also makes an interesting point to The New York Times: "I think a potential side effect is that you may see more hiring in order to avoid overtime costs, which would be an awfully good thing right about now." Peter Weber
In what would be a sharp reversal of policy, the U.S may no longer threaten to prosecute families who seek to pay ransoms to foreign hostage-takers, according to ABC News. "There will be absolutely zero chance of any family member of an American held hostage overseas ever facing jail themselves, or even the threat of prosecution, for trying to free their loved ones," one senior official familiar with the internal policy review told ABC. The administration faced criticism last year after the family of James Foley — an American journalist held hostage and executed by ISIS — claimed the administration repeatedly threatened them over their attempts to negotiate directly for Foley's release. Jon Terbush
Former President George W. Bush on Saturday said his brother, Jeb, faces a unique hurdle in the presidential horse race: his own name.
While fielding questions at a closed-door meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition, Bush "acknowledged being a liability to his brother's candidacy," according to The New York Times, which spoke to attendees as they left the event.
"He basically said being a Bush is a challenge," Norm Coleman, a former senator and current RJC board member, told the Times.
The head of the Clinton Foundation on Sunday acknowledged that the global charity "made mistakes" in how it disclosed and handled donations.
Responding to recent criticism of the foundation that threatened its reputation and Hilary Clinton's nascent presidential campaign, acting CEO Maura Pally said the foundation would commit to greater transparency and limit donations from foreign governments. Moreover, she acknowledged clerical errors in the organization's tax forms, but insisted the overall revenue figures were correct.
"So yes, we made mistakes, as many organizations of our size do, but we are acting quickly to remedy them, and have taken steps to ensure they don't happen in the future," Pally wrote in a statement posted to the foundation's website. Jon Terbush
A New Jersey judge has ruled that a mother who brought her daughter to a concert by the pop artist Pink is not guilty of poor parenting, as NJ.com notes.
The mother's decision "did not subject the child to any unreasonable risk of harm, or compromise [her] health, safety or welfare," Superior Court Judge Lawrence R. Jones wrote. Rather, it was "self-evident that all which happened here is that a young girl went to her first rock concert with her mother and had a really great time."
The case arose as part of a custody dispute in which the girl's father alleged child abuse after his ex-wife exposed their daughter to Pink's "lyrical profanities" and "sexually suggestive themes and dance performances." Judge Jones rejected that claim, citing Elvis, the Beatles, and rock music's history of baffling and outraging parents.
The court takes further judicial notice that historically, rock music has often involved socially controversial lyrics and themes, as well as what some people have at various times considered to be suggestive songs and performances. It is a matter of common knowledge that back in the 1950's and 60's, when rock music (then more commonly called rock and roll), was still in its relative infancy, millions of teens and pre-teens embraced this then-new style of music as not only exciting, but groundbreaking.
Many parents, however, did not welcome rock music with similar open arms. Instead, there was a significant degree of parental and social resistance and pushback by members of prior generations. [PDF]
One can only wonder how the judge would have ruled had the case involved not a Pink concert, but rather the Gathering of the Juggalos. Jon Terbush
Constrained by decorum, President Obama at times appears unable to express the full heft of his emotions when dealing with difficult situations. Enter Keegan-Michael Key who, when playing Obama's fictional "anger translator," Luther, on the comedy Key & Peele, serves as the mouthpiece to the president's true thoughts and emotions.
At the White House Correspondents' Dinner on Saturday, Obama brought Key out to play that very role. Yet as Obama turned to obstreperous climate change deniers, he soon overtook Key as the voice of rage, prompting the comedian to leap in and save Obama from going too far.
"Instead of doing something about it [climate change] we've got elected officials throwing snowballs in the Senate," Obama said, his voice rising. "It is crazy."
"What about our kids? What kind of stupid, shortsighted, irresponsible bull—" he continued before Key cut him off. —Jon Terbush
Saturday Night Live's Cecily Strong spared no one in Washington with her routine at Saturday's White House Correspondents' Association Dinner, but her most poignant barbs focused on race relations in America.
"Your hair is so white now it can talk back to the police," Strong said of President Obama.
Earlier, Strong earned mostly hushed grumbling when she combined into one punchline recent police shootings of unarmed black men and reports of Secret Service incompetence. Calling for applause for Secret Service agents in attendance, Strong called them, "the only law enforcement agency that will get in trouble if a black man gets shot."
You can watch Strong's full routine below. —Jon Terbush
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Saturday claimed Christians in America face persecution at the hands of intolerant liberals.
"Today's Democratic Party has decided there is no room for Christians," Cruz warned at Iowa's Faith and Freedom Coalition summit.
"There is a liberal fascism that is going after Christian believers," he added.
Counting Cruz, nine declared or potential Republican presidential candidates attended the event in hopes of wooing evangelical voters. Representing a range of experience and political positions, the presidential hopefuls all tailored their messages to fit the religious tenor of the evening. Jon Terbush