Bush Veto Threat May Lead Congress to Reverse Itself on Overtime

Basically, the Congress has decided to throw the American workers into the fire to placate the uberShrub. So, let’s see…we’ve got more than 3 million unemployed since Bush took office, we gave the rich a tax break, we gave corporations free rein to pollute the land, water, and air, we’ve given Cheney’s company billions to rebuild a country that we blew up, and now, 8 million more workers will make less money. And yet…we still don’t have a revolution…bloody amazing, that is.

With the White House “show[ing] no inclination to
compromise,”1 House and Senate conferees are likely to strip a
provision protecting overtime from proposed Labor Department changes that would
deny overtime pay to as many as 8 million workers.2

Earlier
this fall, both the House and Senate voted for the provision to block the
proposed overtime rules from enactment. However, the White House has repeatedly
threatened to veto any legislation that blocks implementation of its overtime
overhaul.3

President Bush says in almost every speech in
which he discusses tax relief, “when Americans have more take home pay to spend,
to save, or invest, the whole economy grows and people are more likely to find a
job. So we’re returning more money to the people to help them raise their
families.”4 But the White House insistence that the overtime rules be
allowed to take effect will guarantee that millions of U.S. workers will receive
less pay for the same amount of work.

Analysis by the Economic Policy
Institute shows that 2.5 million salaried workers will lose their right to
overtime pay and that an additional 5.5 million hourly workers are at risk of
being shifted to salaried employment and losing their status — 8 million
workers total.5

The administration claims the proposed rule
will guarantee overtime pay to 1.3 million workers who were previously
ineligible,3 while minimizing the point that roughly hundreds of
thousands, by the administration’s own calculations, will become ineligible
under the new rule change.6

The administration’s assertion
that 1.3 million new workers will become eligible for overtime pay takes the
number of workers who earn between the current minimum salary level of $8,060
and the proposed level of $22,100. But the figure includes 600,000 workers who
are not white collar workers covered under the current regulations, and
therefore would not be considered under the revised regulation.7

Sources:

  1. “Stevens Says Media Caps Will Stay In Appropriations Bill,” National
    Journal’s Congress Daily
    , 11/12/03.

  2. target=_blank>Eliminating the Right to Overtime Pay“, Economic Policy
    Institute
    , 6/26/03.

  3. href="http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/legislative/sap/108-1/hr2660sap-h.pdf"
    target=_blank>Statement of Administration Policy,” Office of Management and
    Budget, 7/8/03; “ href="http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/legislative/sap/108-1/s1356sap-s.pdf"
    target=_blank>Statement of Administration Policy,” Office of Management and
    Budget, 9/2/03.

  4. target=_blank>Presidential Speech, 11/07/03.

  5. Ibid.
  6. “U.S. Department of Labor Proposal Will Secure Overtime for 1.3 Million More
    Low-Wage Workers”, Labor Department Press Release, 3/27/03; “White House
    Proposes New Rules for Overtime,” New York Times, 3/28/03, p. A11.

  7. href="http://www.epinet.org/webfeatures/viewpoints/letter_to_rep_cunningham20031029.pdf"
    target=_blank>Letter to Rep. Randy Cunningham Re: inquiries about the Department
    of Labor’s proposed revisions to overtime regulations,” Economic Policy
    Institute, 10/29/03.

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