On a conference call with reporters Wednesday, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown said his outrage of the week is Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s challenge of President Barack Obama’s proposal to strengthen overtime laws.
Ohio’s AG joined officials from 21 states to sue the U.S. Department of Labor Tuesday over a new rule that would make about 4 million higher-earning workers eligible for overtime pay. The lawsuit came the same day that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and more than 50 other business groups filed a legal challenge against the regulation, the AP reported.
U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez said in a published report by the AP that he was confident in the legality of the rule, describing the lawsuits as partisan, obstructionist tactics. He noted that overtime protections have receded over the years: they applied to 62 percent of full-time salaried workers in 1975 and just 7 percent today.
Other plaintiffs include Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin, and the governors of Iowa, Maine and New Mexico.
Sen. Brown, the only Ohio Democrat to hold a statewide office, one he’s won twice since 2006 and is up for reelection in 2018, said the AG’s lawsuit is a waste of taxpayer dollars, especially for so-called managers who have earned overtime pay but don’t get it.
On a call about water issues, with Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune joining him, Sen. Brown said the rule proposed by the Department of Labor would impact about 140,000 Ohio workers. He called an attack by state officials on moderate and low-income workers who have worked enough hours per week to merit the overtime pay “outrageous.”
Following suit, Senate candidate Ted Strickland issued his own statement. “I believe in a simple idea: if you work overtime you should get paid overtime. That’s why I’ve called for expanding overtime pay protections, and I am a strong advocate of the administration’s plan to make sure workers receive the wages they have earned. It is deeply disappointing that Ohio Republicans are trying to block this proposal for the sake of their own politics –– just like how Senator Portman voted to strip overtime wages away from 6 million American workers in order to push the interests of his powerful friends. In the Senate, I will be proud to support strong and fair protections to ensure that every American worker receives the fair pay they have rightfully earned.”
Mr. Strickland is trying to upset incumbent Republican Sen. Rob Portman, but polls show the former Ohio governor trailing Sen. Portman by a significant margin following about $55 million in negative campaign ad spending on Mr. Portman’s behalf by outside groups, including the Koch Brothers.
Asked why GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump is running neck and neck in the Buckeye State with Hillary Clinton, the Democrat’s presidential candidate, Commissioner Portune said he doesn’t understand how anyone is support the New York billionaire, whose taxes and charitable giving have come under intense scrutiny this week. Nonetheless, Todd Portune said he expects voters to do their homework before Election Day, and when they do, they’ll realize Mrs. Clinton is the most qualified nominee.
Sen. Brown didn’t mince words. “Clinton will win Ohio,” he said. New national polls out Wednesday show Mrs. Clinton has regained a five point lead over Mr. Trump, offering some back up to both elected officials’ statements that voters will find Hillary Clinton the best choice and cast their ballot for her.
Asked about Mr. Strickland’s race, Mr. Portune said that the former Ohio governor has run a spirited race, but he’s been up against a mammoth amount of money the commissioner from southwest Ohio said was Exhibit A of why Citizens United has been such a terrible decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. It lets outside money enter races with no rules whatsoever, Portune said, adding that lying in political advertising is a sad reality today. Strickland can only do what he can in light of a disparity in resources, but Mr. Portune said Democrats, who have a hard grass roots campaign, will not give up. He credited David Pepper, who hails from Cincinnati and who also served as a Hamilton County Commissioner, as a Democratic Party chairman who’s doing his best to overcome the influence of outside money.
Sen. Brown, reflecting on his second race in 2012 in which about $40 million was spent against him, said Ted Strickland has been victimized by money spent in a race than anywhere in country. He said it’s ironic that Strickland is getting blamed for the George W. Bush economy. Sen. Rob Portman was President Bush’s budget director, but has gone untouched by his complicity in adding trillions to the nation debt and teeing up the economy for the great catastrophe since the Great Depression.
Sen. Brown responded to a question about the hearings in the Senate Banking Committee, where he’s the ranking Democrat and very well might be chairman if Democrats can retake the Senate this year. He said his goal in the hearings was to shine a spotlight on the low wages paid to employees of Wells Fargo who set up two million bogus accounts called cross selling. He called the millions leaders at the bank have been paid. He would like to see some of those funds clawed back.
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