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June 2012
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MISGUIDED Obama overtime ploy will just cost more jobs

President Barack Obama's propensity for destroying jobs at a time when jobs and the economy rank in polls as Americans' top concern is nothing short of breathtaking.

This week the president took up his pen to by executive fiat force companies to pay overtime to mid-level salaried workers. The effect is likely to be the disappearance of thousands of such generally well-paying positions.

Under prior law, salaried workers making more than $455 a week are not required to be paid overtime. That level was set in 2004 under President Bush. Prior to Bush's action, the threshold had not been raised since the 1970s.

Obama's proposal also would expand the number of people a manager has to supervise to be exempt from overtime.

It's just the latest case of Obama - who has zero experience running a business - trying to arbitrarily dictate wages from the president's office. It matters not to him whether the business is large or small, profitable or not, or whether his wage dictates will force layoffs or closures of the affected businesses. Obama, in his magnificence, has divined that privately negotiated pay agreements shall be altered, and he couldn't care less about the consequences.

Among the flaws in the president's approach are these:

First, the workers targeted by the president's initiative are typically mid-level managers. Contrary to the popular view, it's not workers on the assembly line who are first to fall to cost cuts these days when expenses get out of control. It's middle-level managers, because of their high salaries. They get the ax and top-level managers assume the more complex duties, while other responsibilities are delegated among the rank and file.

Second, most companies when setting pay for salaried workers consider the fact that extra hours will be involved and add de facto overtime to the salary. If companies are now required to pay overtime to those employees, many will simply convert those workers back to hourly pay at a reduced rate. It's hard to see how Obama wins votes for Democrats by doing that to people.

But Obama has no clue about such things, or the economy in general, which is why polls show a majority of Americans say the economy remains in recession five years into his presidency.

The president's overtime misadventure comes on the heels of his push for a 40 percent increase in the federal minimum wage, from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour. Again, he ignores the negative impact of such a move on jobs, the economy, and American competitiveness. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office concluded that proposal would destroy 500,000 jobs as companies cut costs and marginally profitable small businesses were wiped out.

The president's "war on coal" being waged via EPA regulations in the name of combating "climate change" has cost more than 6,000 jobs in the Kentucky coal fields. The Lexington Herald-Leader reports coal jobs have fallen more than 40 percent since July 2011 and are at the lowest level since 1927. But again, the president is indifferent to those consequences and the people who are paying the price.

For Obama, it's all an academic exercise in ideological politics. He either doesn't understand the impact of his policies on everyday people, or he doesn't care. It's a sad irony that every time the president undertakes to do something to "help" American workers, he only succeeds in putting more of them in the unemployment line.

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