We have already seen the blockheads on Fox News wax idiotic about several political issues that they named in honor of our President Barack Obama. They must have thought it was funny or somehow disparaging to call everything Obama-Something. And each time it was characterized as some sort of raging controversy.
The Big Kahuna, of course, was ObamaCare. That was followed up with the ObamaPhone. Then they went totally Looney Tunes with my personal favorite, ObamaCars. And now, get ready for the coming horror of ObamaPay.
What is ObamaPay? Well, according to reporting that Fox News sourced to right-wing author Sean Higgins of the Washington Examiner, it is a proposal by Obama that will “try to force employers to pay their workers more overtime by limiting which workers can be called managers.” Higgins says that…
“The administration in February is set to announce a proposed new rule under the Fair Labor Standards Act that would designate who is an ‘exempt employee’ who cannot claim overtime for working more than 40 hours a week.
“The president and administration officials have indicated they plan to increase the $23,000 minimum amount a worker must make before his employer can opt to exempt him from federal overtime rules — also known as the ‘white-collar exemption.'”
In short, current regulations state that an employer can slap a “manager” tag on someone earning only $23,000 a year and then force them to work 50, 60, 70 hours a week or more without paying any overtime. For the record, the poverty level for 2014 is $23,850 per year for a family of four. So these rules can result in a warped definition of “white-collar” that includes living near or below the poverty line. What Fox News is calling ObamaPay is actually just adjusting federal limits so that people who work overtime actually get overtime pay, and employers cannot use loopholes to exploit low-wage workers.
The Fair Labor Standards Act gives the Labor Department the authority to set the definition of an exempt employee. And despite the fact that George W. Bush last raised the threshold to $23,000 in 2004, Obama is being portrayed as attempting “to enact his agenda by circumventing Congress.” That’s because it’s always OK for a Republican to do these sort of things, but if a Democrat tries it he is a dictator.
In the ten years that has transpired since the last increase, the current threshold has not kept up with inflation. What’s more, the Obama administration has advocated an increase in the minimum wage from the current $7.25 per hour to $10.10. For reference, it would need to be closer to $11.00 to match the buying power of the minimum wage fifty years ago. But Republicans in Congress have obstructed every effort to provide this long overdue relief.
The economy under Obama has skyrocket by most measures. The stock market is at new highs. Unemployment dropped from 10.1% to 5.7%. Corporations are reporting record profits. Home sales have rebounded from the devastating lows caused by the Bush economic collapse six years ago. One of the few areas that has not enjoyed the prosperity seen elsewhere in the economy is average wages. Republicans continue to point to that failure as being the fault of the President. But they are the ones denying Americans a higher wage, as well as refusing to fund needed infrastructure projects that would create thousands of jobs.
Now that the administration is exploring another option that would benefit some 3.5 million American workers, the GOP is predictably kneecapping the initiative and complaining that the tyrannical President won’t work with Congress. Having established that as the right’s response to this perfectly reasonable proposal, Fox News is jumping aboard with their PR machine and labeling it ObamaPay.
The funny thing is that every proposal that has had Obama’s name attached to it by wingnuts whose intention is to disparage it, has been something that genuinely sought to help average Americans to improve their lives during difficult times. They are policies that people will recall with gratitude and appreciation for something that government did right. In the end, Republicans and their PR division (aka Fox News) will regret naming all of these beneficial programs after the President because people will remember who it was that was looking out for them, and who was looking out for the wealthy, corporate, greedy one percent.