When Barack Obama gets desperate, he attacks businesses. The latest maneuver in his war on work is a gambit to unilaterally change labor regulations so that more workers qualify for overtime pay.
On Thursday, the president will direct the Labor Department to revamp its regulations to require overtime pay for several million additional fast-food managers, loan officers, computer technicians and others whom many businesses currently classify as “executive or professional” employees to avoid paying them overtime, according to White House officials briefed on the announcement.
Mr. Obama’s decision to use his executive authority to change the nation’s overtime rules is likely to be seen as a challenge to Republicans in Congress, who have already blocked most of the president’s economic agenda and have said they intend to fight his proposal to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour from $7.25.
Mr. Obama’s action is certain to anger the business lobby in Washington, which has long fought for maximum flexibility for companies in paying overtime.
The odds of this actually helping the economy or any great number of workers is minimal, but neither of those is actually the point. This move isn’t actually about helping anyone other than Democrats. The Obama economy is sluggish, with Obamacare being among the main reasons for that. Businesses will find a way to avoid having to pay overtime, either by limiting hours, laying some workers off or some other means, because their mission is to stay alive and generate profits. Businesses are not charities or jobs programs. They exist to make profits. If this move cuts into those profits, businesses will minimize the effects as best as they can. This is not evil or malicious behavior, as some on the left are likely to characterize it, it’s rational behavior. Given the hostility of this administration to the very concept of work, it’s self-defense.
But what this move does, or is intended to do, is provoke the business community and the GOP into reacting, which gives the Democrats a talking point about “denying overtime pay” and what have you. Like everything else about the Obama administration, this is a sham.