Boring But Important
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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."