WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama's move to make more workers eligible for time-and-a-half overtime pay is being hailed by Democrats who see it as a potent midterm election issue and condemned by Republicans and business leaders as presidential overreach. Supporters say it will help the still-fragile economy, while critics say it will damage it further. It is likely to affect millions of American workers.
Currently, salaried workers making more than $455 a week, or $23,660 a year, aren't eligible for time-and-a-half overtime if some of their work is considered supervisory, even though many spend most of their day doing manual, clerical or technical work with few management duties.
The move clearly has angered business groups and congressional Republicans, but it fits in with the overall Democratic midterm election game plan of focusing on income inequality and the middle class at the same time the stock market has soared.
"This will help to build an economy that honors work, not one that steals from workers," AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka said.
Business and conservative groups argue that Obama's order will have the opposite effect of its intent and could lead businesses to reduce the number of employees or cut pay, resulting in a drag on national economic growth.
"The federal government, in particular, shouldn't be involved in labor markets in any way, shape or form," said Jeffrey Miron, director of economic studies at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, and a Harvard University economics professor.