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Obama pushes for overtime pay expansion: Political play or victory for the working class?

Nicole Goodkind
Nicole Goodkind
Daily Ticker

In his State of the Union speech, President Barack Obama said he was prepared to go around Congress if lawmakers stymied important legislation. Today he is making good on that threat—the president is expected to order a rule that would require more employers to pay overtime to salaried workers.

Currently, employers aren’t required to pay overtime to salaried workers earning over $455 a week or $24,000 a year. While it is unclear by how much the Labor Department will raise the salary limit, former White House economist Jared Bernstein has proposed an increase to $984 a week or about $50,000 a year. That means this rule would impact between five and 10 million people.

Related: How Raising the Minimum Wage Would Benefit McDonald’s and Walmart

While business executives and small business owners might argue that this will force them to cut jobs or lose profits, a White House official told The Wall Street Journal that these rules are essential to the well-being of American workers. "For example, a convenience store manager or a fast-food shift supervisor or an office worker may be expected to work 50 or 60 hours a week or more … and not receive a dime of overtime pay," the official said.

The Daily Ticker’s Lauren Lyster agrees. “If you have workers that are salaried and that are going to be impacted by this overtime either you change their salary to factor in the overtime or you make them more efficient and stick to a 30-hour workweek," she says in the video above. "I feel like its kind of win-win. You shouldn’t be exploiting your workers…there should be a return to more formalized rules surrounding overtime."

Related: Top Reason to Raise the Minimum Wage: It’s 30% Below 1968 Level After Inflation

As always, there are also politics involved in the decision. “[Obama’s] trying to shore up his base ahead of the midterms and after that special election in Florida the Democrats are looking a little tenuous here,” says The Daily Ticker's Aaron Task.

“This is good optics...it casts the Obama White House as really caring about the working class,” adds Lyster.

What do you think? Is this a good move or just a political play? Follow The Daily Ticker on Facebook and Twitter (@DailyTicker)!

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