Once again, President Obama has shown how generous he can be with other people’s money. Usually he’s dishing out taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars, but this time it’s coming from employers—an estimated $12 billion over 10 years.
The Obama administration has announced it will double the salary threshold for employees who qualify for overtime pay, leaping from $23,660 to $47,476 beginning on December 1. That change will affect an estimated 4.2 million workers, many of whom will be Millennials who have recently started their professional careers.
The administration says the increase was needed because the current level was last updated in 2004. But doubling it? It’s not like wages have been rising, making the 2004 adjustment obsolete.
Thanks to Obama’s economic policies, real median U.S. household income, which was $55,565 in 2004, declined to $53,657 in 2014, according to the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank. Lower-middle income workers and the poor have fared even worse.
There are at least three reasons why Obama is making the change. First, he’s frustrated that low- and middle-income families, which he claims to champion, have fared so badly under his administration. Tackling this by executive fiat gives him an excuse to say he did all he could, but was hindered by that recalcitrant Republican Congress that won’t pass his leftist agenda.
Which brings us to the second reason for his action: Obama told his staff to identify any actions he can take without Congress’ approval.
The president who claimed he would bring people together now prides himself on how much discord he can sow among Republicans when he takes unilateral actions. And leftists cheer whenever he does. But the day will come when a Republican controls the White House, and that president will understandably feel justified in going as far as Obama did, and perhaps further, if Congress gets in the way.
The third reason for Obama’s order is he’s trying to buy votes for Hillary Clinton’s flailing campaign.
Now, were Obama trying to buy those votes with his own money—a longstanding Democratic tradition—that would be one thing. But private-sector employers will get the bill for Obama’s latest largess.
The president, having never run a private-sector business or balanced a budget, must think employers are a bottomless pit of money that he can tap whenever he wants—or when he needs people to vote for Democrats.
He’s already forcing employers to pay thousands of dollars per worker for health insurance. He’s forced federal contractors to provide at least seven days of paid sick leave and pay a minimum wage of $10.10 an hour—and would force all employers to do both if he could. And now he’s trying to coerce businesses into spending more on overtime pay.
Some will. Others will prohibit overtime pay except in certain circumstances.
And others will follow K-9 Resorts’ lead. The Wall Street Journal reports the franchiser of luxury dog hotels will reduce new assistant managers’ starting salaries from $40,000 per year to $35,000, which allows the company to pay $5,000 in overtime pay without affecting its budget.
So Obama’s quest to help the middle class means that new K-9 Resort assistant managers will get a $5,000 pay cut. And, of course, some workers will never be hired.
But while Obama is one of our most generous presidents with other people’s money, he was never very generous with his own before his presidential aspirations.
In 2002, Obama and his wife recorded $259,394 in income and donated to charity $1,050—or 0.4 percent of their income. In 2003, he donated $3,400 on $238,327 in income, and in 2004 it was $2,500 out of $207,847.
In 2005, his first year in the U.S. Senate when he started laying the groundwork for a presidential run—and knew he would be scrutinized—he gave away $77,315, or 4.6 percent, of his $1.66 million in income.
So up until 2005, Obama was one of those 1 percenters he likes to say should pay their “fair share,” and yet he was a charity skinflint.
British Prime Minister Margret Thatcher used to say the problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money. Obama probably won’t get that far, since he’s leaving in eight months, but it won’t be for lack of trying.