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Republicans peevish on Obama's overhaul of overtime rules

John Boehner
John Boehner
AP file

If President Barack Obama is for anything that doesn’t help the rich, dampen government influence or aid in their draconian policies against the poor; Republicans are against it, further advancing their quest to resurrect the 20th century.

The Grand Old Party, which has done everything to block most of the president’s economic agenda, is against raising the minimum wage, child labor laws, protection of worker’s rights and overtime pay.

Obama used his executive authority on Thursday to change US rules on overtime for salaried employees, which will require millions of fast-food managers, technicians, administrative professionals and anyone else classified in a fashion that doesn’t allow them to be paid for more than 40 hours a week, no matter how many hours they work, was reported in the New York Times.

The move is Obama’s latest in an overall effort to confront corporations fat with soaring profits, while paying their employees a stagnate wage. He has requested the Labor Department to revamp current requirements for overtime.

“We need to fix the system so folks working hard are getting compensated fairly,” said Cecilia Munoz, director of Obama’s Domestic Policy Council. “That’s why we are jump-starting this effort.”

White House statment on Obama's overtime rule-change:

"While our economy is moving forward, the middle class and those fighting to get into it are still struggling and too many Americans are working harder than ever just to keep up, let alone get ahead. So, in consultation with workers and business, the Obama administration will update and simplify the rules to reward hard work and responsibility."

Nevertheless, Republicans resent the president doing anything that circumvents their obstructionist “Party of No” mentality, though executive power has been used for such policy changes by many presidents in the past.

“If you don’t have a job, you don’t qualify for overtime. So what do you get out of it? You get nothing,” John Boehner (R-Ohio) told the Washington Post “The president’s policies are making it difficult for employers to expand employment. And until the president’s policies get out of the way, employers are going to continue to sit on their hands.”

Writing in Salon, Joan Walsh points out the hypocrisy in the right’s indignation:

Republicans no longer accept that it was government intervention in the economy, first in the Progressive era and then, more forcefully, after the Great Depression, that created the greatest economic boom and the biggest middle class in history. The 40-hour work week. The weekend. Vacations. Child labor laws. The minimum wage. Social Security. Health and safety protection. All of these represented government intervention on the side of working people, to balance the playing field with exploitive employers, and to carve out a realm of family and personal life that could be protected from ceaseless labor. Progressive public policy essentially created childhood, as a time when kids who weren’t wealthy might be educated and protected from labor abuse.

Previously, Newt Gingrich, who has called child labor laws “stupid”, said that schools should fire janitors and put children to work cleaning their schools, further perpetuating the mentality that no one should get help from the government, not even lunch programs for poor kids, lest they grow up to be lazy moochers.

Making changes in overtime rules will not only help people actually earn a living wage, but it will prevent employers from taking advantage of the workers, while CEO’s get huge bonuses.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) complained about the president’s refusal to work with Republicans.

"How does he expect us to work with him?" said McCain. "It's just a poisonous relationship."

McCain’s peevish remark may be a mantra that sounds good to conservatives and their corporate supporters, but such blatant opposition to policies that help the nation’s poverty-stricken and most vulnerable people should be an affront to every American.

Critics of the right-wing agenda want to see more of Obama’s Teflon-attitude and applaud his unwavering, steadfast commitment to fighting inequality and raising the standard of life for every man, woman and child; regardless of the GOP’s predictable petulance.