Obama’s Overtime Order: Critics Voice Economic Concerns

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After President Barack Obama ordered the U.S. Labor Department to require overtime pay for executive/professional employees that would otherwise not be making as much, Washington erupted into predictably controversy. The change follows Obama’s executive order to up the Federal workers minimum wage to $10.10, starting in 2015, and will effect millions more. The move is being praised by Democrats as a boost to the economy and an aid to working class citizens who make less than they deserve. Conversely, Republicans say that he has overstepped his bounds and that the move will cripple the economy, leading to unintended negative effects on workers such as reduced pay, or employment terminations.

From my perspective, they have to be pulling numbers out of the air right now. We don’t even know what the policy is going to be,” said Tammy McCutchen, an administrator in the Labor Department during the Bush administration, to the Washington Post. One of her rules from the last rewrite in 2004 was removed by Obama when he enacted the order on Thursday, and she’s critical of how his decision will affect the economy. “Well, it’s going to be bad for business,” she told the Washington Post. ”It’s going to be good for my bottom line. Lawyers all over the country are going to be making a lot of money.” She also discussed her feelings on changes to somethings she’s worked so hard on, calling them “my babies,” and admitting “I spent two years of my life working on them. It’s personal for me. It’s going to be very sad to see them taking out a lot of the stuff I put in.”

Today, I’m going to use my pen to give more Americans the chance to earn the overtime pay that they deserve,” said Obama in his statement on the matter. “If you go above and beyond to help your employer and your economy succeed, then you should share a little bit in that success. And this is going to make a real difference in the lives of millions of Americans, from managers in fast food and retail to office workers, [and] cargo inspectors,” he said. He noted that the move was coming in lieu of Congressional passage of a wage increase, something that he encouraged during his State of the Union address, and an item that could turn into a Democratic campaign strategy.

“The federal government, in particular, shouldn’t be involved in labor markets in any way, shape, or form. It shouldn’t be setting hours legislation and it shouldn’t be providing union protection,” Jeffrey Miron, director of economic studies at Cato Institute, said to the Washington Post. Obama isn’t the only one to be criticized for overstepping his bounds this week, with his administration accusing Congress of messing around with the separation of powers with their “Enforce the Law” act and infringing on the powers of the executive branch — likely a move to ensure immigration enforcement should reform actually make it through, something that looks more and more unlikely.

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