- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 15, 2014

Some analysts say the White House’s proposed changes to workplace overtime rules could cost jobs and carry other negative consequences, but President Obama on Saturday promised that the new system will be “easier for everyone.”

Overtime is the latest issue Mr. Obama has addressed through his executive authority. It’s part of a broader plan to push income inequality and the plight of the poor and middle class into the spotlight ahead of the November midterm elections, as Democrats believe they can win on those issues.

“Americans have spent too long working more and getting less in return,” the president said in his weekly address. “Because what every American wants is a paycheck that lets them support their families, know a little economic security, and pass down some hope and optimism to their kids. That’s something worth fighting for.”

Earlier this week, the president said his Labor Department will revisit the overtime pay threshold of $455, which hasn’t been updated in a decade. The provision applies to workers classified as managerial or supervisory.

As long as they make at least $455 each week, those employees usually are not eligible for overtime, even though they might work 50 or more hours a week.

It’s unclear what the new figure will be; numbers ranging from $550 to over $900 are rumored to be under discussion.

The final threshold will be the result of discussions with all key stakeholders, according to the WHite House.

“We’re going to update those overtime rules to restore that basic principle that if you have to work more, you should be able to earn more,” Mr. Obama said. “And we’ll do it by consulting workers and businesses, and simplifying the system so it’s easier for everyone.”

Meanwhile, Republicans also are sticking to their own midterm election strategy — hammer Obamacare.

In the weekly GOP address, Rep. Bill Johnson of Ohio said the law is having an adverse impact on older Americans.

“Because of Obamacare, many seniors enrolled in the popular Medicare Advantage program are paying higher premiums and out-of-pocket costs,” he said. “Many are losing access to their physicians. And many more will, unless the president takes action.”

• Ben Wolfgang can be reached at bwolfgang@washingtontimes.com.

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