Obama’s Idealistic View of American Overtime

Have you ever watched a high schooler campaign for class president? To win, a wise candidate will know his audience. He will know that inexperienced high schoolers can be easily duped into believing even the most ridiculous promises. As long as those promises match student interest, the candidate has a decent shot of winning the election.

You’d think that once people graduate from high school and get a few years of the real world under their belt, they would stop falling for empty promises. You’d think they would be skeptical of broad changes to the free market that seem to have no downside. But as President Obama has proven time and time again, liberals are only skeptics when it comes to the Bible. When it comes to fulfilling their utopian vision of America, no dream is too outlandish. As long as the only ones to suffer are Christians or white people or the rich, they’re all for it!

This week, perhaps on a high from several liberal Supreme Court victories, Obama proposed a new overtime policy that could have extraordinary ramifications for the economy. Under his proposal, the income threshold for mandatory overtime would rise from $24,000 to $50,000, making millions of workers eligible for overtime. On the surface, of course, it sounds great. Anyone who falls in the income range between these two numbers should be jumping for joy. If Obama’s policy goes through, they’ll immediately begin making more money. What a coup!

Except, it doesn’t work like that.

“President Obama’s overtime-pay mandate is filled with job-killing incentives that will drastically increase the cost of hiring new workers,” said former Texas Governor Rick Perry. “Government shouldn’t be in the business of mandating how much employers pay, or the level of benefits they provide.”

Oh, but Democrats believe that’s exactly the business government should be in. And they seem unwilling to acknowledge that every time they stick their regulatory nose into the free market, it has unintended consequences. So it will be for this overtime policy.

As shocking as it may be, though, most employers are not going to just bend over and accept an enormous expansion of their payroll. They aren’t going to shrug their shoulders and submit to a rule that will cost them millions of dollars annually. They are in the business of making a profit, and they aren’t going to let some idiot in the White House prevent them from realizing that goal. Instead, they will almost certainly begin slashing hours, ensuring that anyone who would not be eligible for overtime simply doesn’t get that overtime anymore.

If Obama’s goal is to make sure American workers have more free time on their hands, his policy will be a great success. If it is to make Americans richer, though, it will fail. The free market rules all, even when the feds get crazy with their regulatory tape. If there is a loophole – no matter how small – any responsible company is going to find it and exploit it. Ironically, Obama’s overtime rule is more likely to cost workers money than it is to put more of it in their bank accounts.

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