Before Vice President Joe Biden had boarded Air Force Two Wednesday to fly to Columbus to offer remarks on economic matters at the headquarters of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream’s, Ohio Congressman Pat Tiberi issued a statement critical of what Mr. Biden was going to say, especially on a new rule by the U.S. Department of Labor that will help millions get paid for overtime hours worked but not compensated.
Ohio Senior U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, who accompanied the vice president on his flight to Ohio’s capital city today, said about 134,000 Ohio workers would qualify for under the new overtime rule. Under the new rules, released in draft form last summer, the annual salary threshold at which companies can deny overtime pay will be doubled from $23,660 to nearly $47,500, making 4.2 million more salaried workers eligible for overtime pay, DOL notes. Hourly workers would continue to be mostly guaranteed overtime.
As expected, business groups opposed the rule, saying it will increase paperwork and scheduling burdens for small companies and force many businesses to convert salaried workers to hourly ones to more closely track working time, the AP reported. Many employees, they said, will see that as a step down. “With the stroke of a pen, the Labor Department is demoting millions of workers,” as David French, a senior vice president for the National Retail Federation, in an AP report. “Most of the people impacted by this change will not see any additional pay.”
Congressman Pat Tiberi issued this statement regarding the Obama Administration’s DOL rule to redefine overtime that reflects the same sentiments: “Here we go again with another attempt by the Obama administration to sugarcoat a burdensome regulation that will hurt job creators’ ability to grow and succeed. I’ve heard from a number of businesses owners in my district who strongly oppose the Department of Labor’s overtime rule because they fear it will force them to cut hours and limit opportunities for their employees.”
Brown Back In Town
In conference call with reporters on his way to join the vice president on Air Force Two , Senator Brown was asked to comment on Mr. Tiberi’s comment.
“Nothing is right about what he says,” two-term Sen. Brown shot back. “There are too many cases of workers asked to work 50-60 hours; theyre not doctors, lawyers with good compensation…they are workers making $25,000. It’s easy for a congressman with good wages and health and retirement to oppose those who aspire to the middle class.” It’s bad for workers and its bad for the economy, Brown continued. He added, “Workers will do much better with the overtime rule. When executives get big salaries, they never say ‘that’s going to lead to layoffs.'”
Always a strong voice for workers and unions, Sen. Brown’s name is on some people’s short list of candidates Hillary Clinton should choose as a running mate. That question was asked again today, but to no avail as Mr. Brown had heard it plenty already. He reiterated his standard line of he’s not looking for or running for the job. Whatever he knows appears to come from other sources, since he said Mrs. Clinton’s campaign has not been in touch with him, despite sources claiming he’s being vetted for the second top job.
Brown dredged up the core theme of the 2012 run for reelection by Team Obama, that the economy improves best when it expands from the middle out instead of the top down, or trickle-down economics as Democrats and others call it, a phrase born during the Reagan years.
“More growth comes from a pie expanding,” he said, noting that Tiberi’s laments are the “same tired arguments” Republicans have always given when a raise in workers’ wages is called for . “How they can claim that’s anti business when it doesn’t hold any water at all,” he asked reporters back?
Included with Congressman Tiberi’s statement was information about his support for legislation—H.R. 4773, the Protecting Workplace Advancement and Opportunity Act—to stop this rule from taking effect.
The White House estimates that the rule change will raise pay by $1.2 billion a year over the next decade, the AP reported, adding some employers, though, might choose to reduce their employees’ additional hours to avoid paying overtime, thereby making the workers’ schedules more consistent. And speaking to reporters Tuesday, Mr. Biden, said, “Either way, the worker wins.”
Vice President Joe Biden last visited Ohio in April, when he headlined a fundraiser in Cincinnati for former Gov. Ted Strickland. Mr. Strickland is challenging Republican Sen. Rob Portman in November with polls showing the two in a dead-heat race now.
While workers are ready to get a boost as Republicans want to stop it, Sen. Brown found it ironic, and a little maddening on what little work Congress is scheduled to do. “The Senate should do its job..the House and Senate schedule is embarrassing on how little they’re in session and how little they are working.”
Part of doing their jobs, he said, is considering President Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court following the sudden passing of Justice Antonin Scalia. Brown reminded reporters that a gap in filling a seat has been this long since the Civil War.
“Senators shouldn’t leave town. Senators are working fewer hours and still getting paid.”