Jobs Schmobs was the message Wednesday from a White House that clearly has little idea or concern about how its new proposal to expand the availability of overtime pay will impact the workforce.
The new overtime pay regulations could affect as many as 10 million workers and cost businesses billions of dollars. It’s not clear whether businesses, who said they were blindsided by the initiative, would react by cutting jobs and pay. They surely won’t just absorb the loss.
But White House economic advisor Betsey Stevenson, who briefed reporters Wednesday, offered up a Damn the Torpedoes approach that suggested the President Obama’s “fairness” agenda would move forward, no matter what.
Not surprising. This is an ideological president, and if the real world gets in the way of ideology, too bad.
Just look at this, from Wednesday”s briefing. Stevenson makes clear that a major new initiative as been launched without serious consideration about how it would impact one of the major stakeholders – U.S. businesses. It shows conclusively that the White House emphasis on “jobs” is a political smokescreen designed to appease voters while Obama institutes his radical agenda.
Q What analysis have you done, if any, on the overtime rule on how it would affect hiring and the number of jobs overall, what interplay that has?
MS. STEVENSON: So obviously that is something that we think a lot about, and there is a lot of research on how it can affect hiring. What we’re really focused on is the fact that when somebody is — this is looking at people who are working over 40 hours a week and are they getting paid for that. The President believes that if you’re making $25,000 a year and you’re working 60 hours a week, you should be getting paid for the extra hours you work. And that’s what this is about.
There is research that suggests that you could see employment increase as a result of modernizing the overtime rules, but that certainly wouldn’t be a primary focus right now. What we’re trying to take a look at is how we can make the labor force as fair as possible for all workers and that people get rewarded for a hard day’s work with fair wages.
Q Betsey, if you were to combine those overtime rules being revamped with an increase in the minimum wage, isn’t it fairly obvious that there would be a burden on businesses if the administration were to get everything that it wanted with respect to those two items?
MS. STEVENSON: We think these two items are very different, but obviously they do feed into the same thing, which is people should be rewarded for fair work. But again, realize we’re not talking about people who — what you’re paying workers who are working 30 or 40 hours a week. This is, do you have an obligation to pay the minimum wage to someone — to pay the minimum wage or overtime to someone who is on a fixed salary and maybe working 60, 70, 80 hours a week.
The bolding is mine. Stevenson indicated serious consideration will be given to the effect on business only after the decision has been made to expand overtime pay.
MS. STEVENSON: We’re going to be studying this in the weeks and months to come and we’re going to be looking at all the different ways in which we think employers might respond. This rule is something that definitely needs to be modernized, that we need to ensure that workers have the protections of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
So you announce a plan and then try to figure out the consequences. That means, of course, the White House economists won’t be studying the effects as much as making them fit their theory of how things should work.
This is the very definition of ideological leftism: Do something that looks and feels good – both to the ideologues who thought of it and voters – and leave it to conservatives to do the hard work of understanding whether in the end it really helps people or hurts them.
And leave it to workers to suffer the unintended – but foreseeable – consequences.