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Will The First Bill Trump Signs Be A GOP Crusade Against Overtime Pay?

Tuesday, November 22, 2016 15:23
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(Before It's News)

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We just spent over a year explaining why Hillary Clinton, an avatar of the status quo, would be a terrible nominee for the Democratic Party. But that isn't what this post is about. This post is about why Donald Trump is a terrible choice of president for the United States of America. Kellyanne's quote above gets into it a bit. But you couldn't have been paying any attention in the last year and be unaware that Trump has preyed for his entire lifetime of working people– and enriched himself by ripping them off. From his earliest days as a businessman he hired cheap foreign labor– even during the campaign while he was preaching against it– instead of American workers and outsourced manufacturing jobs overseas at every opportunity to make a nickel more. As president, he claimed on the stump, he would use his knowledge of these practices he was so expert at to crack down and work for American working families. And, yes, there were workers in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Iowa and Missouri who bought it.

So wouldn't it be ironic if among the first bills he signs are Ryan Republican schemes to further disadvantage the very working men and women who, unexpectedly landed Trump in the White House. Like the GOP age-old and unending desire to abolish the whole concept of overtime pay and a minimum wage. Conservatives, of course, have always fought against both and true believers like Ryan have tried turning back the clock countless times. Yesterday Rachel Bade and John Bresnahan, reporting for Politico, outlined how Ryan plans to use the Trump presidency to accomplish his virulently anti-worker agenda.

Rolling back DAPA, an executive order that gave the parents of DREAMers legal status to stay in the U.S. without fear of deportation– may please plenty of Trump voters and few of them will give a hoot about Ryan's intention of reversing Obama's fiduciary rule, which was designed to eliminate conflicts of interests for financial advisers who were balancing corporate clients and individual investors. But the one that could shake their support for Trump is Ryan's intention to eliminate an overtime rule that requires companies pay overtime to employees making $47,000 or less a year. That, they may ponder, isn't what Trump campaigned on, at least not in their neighborhoods.

Weeks before the 115th Congress even begins, House Republicans are laying the groundwork for a major push to repeal President Barack Obama’s most recent regulations, using the Congressional Review Act. The 1996 law allows the House to reverse regulations enacted within the previous 60 legislative days– and the Senate to pass a repeal by simple majority instead of the upper chamber’s typical 60-vote threshold.

While Obama is still president, the Republican controlled-Congress has no chance of repealing his regulations. But once Trump is inaugurated, that all changes.

Another boon for the right: The 1996 law is written such that the 60-legislative-day clock resets at the beginning of each Congress for all rules enacted in the 60 legislative days prior to the final day of congressional adjournment. That will give Congress months longer to tear up regulations issued late this year.

…House Republicans are currently in the process of making lists of regulations that fall within their time frame and could potentially be repealed early next year. One of the major ones they’re eyeing is Obama’s overtime rule that requires companies to pay time-and-a-half to employees who make under roughly $47,000.

The rule is set to go into effect Dec. 1 and will be a top priority for Republicans to reverse, multiple sources said.

“We have heard over the past year that it would have truly dramatically bad effects, not just on employers but on employees across the country,” said Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.), a former labor lawyer. He said the University of Alabama expects the rule will cost the institution $14 million a year, which will likely be passed on to students via higher tuition.

And “I can give you the names of a ton of private-sector businesses who will either have to eat that cost or pass that cost on to their customers,” Byrne said.

Bernie's and, somewhat reluctantly, Hillary's strong plans to raise the minimum wage went out the window exactly one week ago. Conservatives– from both sold-out parties– are jubilant. Most anti-minimum wage Democrats (Blue Dogs and New Dems) have been defeated but Kurt Schrader (OR) and Collin Peterson (MN) are still drawing breath and anti-worker fanatics Colleen Hanabusa (HI) and Brad Schneider (IL) were just returned to Congress while among the new Democratic freshman, you can expect all the worst from those from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party: Lou Correa (CA), Ro Khanna (CA), Tom O'Halleran (AZ), Stephanie Murphy (FL), Darren Soto (FL), and Josh Gottheimer (NJ). As for the Republicans… hey, in July they forced Puerto Rico to accept a $4.25 minimum wage– a harbinger of things to come? When Alan Grayson and Norma Torres offered an amendment to get the $4.25 minimum wage out of the rescue bill, every Democrat backed them but only 15 Republicans agreed– and of the 15, six– Chris Gibson, David Jolly, Richard Hanna, Mike Fitzpatrick and Bob Dold– won't be returning to Congress next year.



Last May, when the White House announced new rules expanding overtime pay for as many as 4.2 million white collar workers, Republican obstructionists in the House immediately objected and started threatening law suits. Ryan led the charge against it and the NY Times editorial board explained why Ryan had it all wrong.

Under federal law dating to 1938, an employer does not have to pay time-and-a-half when salaried employees work more than 40 hours a week if they earn enough to qualify as executives, professionals or administrators. The problem is that the salary threshold that defines a white-collar job– at least $455 a week, or $23,660 a year– has not been fully updated for inflation since 1975. As a result, workers who earn modest salaries are often deemed ineligible for overtime pay.

The new rules, which take effect on Dec. 1, 2016, raise the threshold to $47,476. An estimated 4.2 million workers will become newly eligible for overtime and another nine million who should be earning overtime now (because of the nature of their work), but often don’t get it, will no longer be denied the pay that is rightfully theirs. In all, about one-third of salaried employees will be eligible for overtime pay under the new threshold, compared with a mere 7 percent currently.

Opponents of the new rules include retailers and low-wage employers who often require unpaid overtime from low-salaried employees. They have said that employers will cut base pay if forced to pay overtime, but that appears to be an idle threat, since pay cuts would be deeply unpopular with workers and would very likely create more turnover. If a business does not want to pay overtime, it could hold salaried employees to no more than 40 hours a week. Or it could hire new people to do work previously performed by those who put in unpaid overtime. Alternatively, it could raise the pay of salaried workers above the new threshold, and thus be exempt from the overtime rule.

The Labor Department originally proposed a new threshold of $50,440, which would have accounted more fully for inflation. That proposal also called for annual updates to the threshold; the final rule calls for adjustment every three years. These changes were made to respond to objections from low-wage employers, mostly in Southern states, who said the new rules would be too onerous.

Because the rule has been issued near the end of the Obama administration, Republican leaders in Congress could try to use end-of-session maneuvers that would let them vote next year to repeal it. A repeal would be vetoed if a Democrat won the White House, but it is unclear what the presumed Republican nominee, Donald Trump, would do. For now, in a rare victory for fair pay, the new rules are on their way to becoming a reality.

That's Ryan's agenda, not necessarily– we'll soon see– Trump's. It will be interesting watching how he and those around him navigate the treacherous waters so early in his presidency.

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“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.” — Sinclair Lewis

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