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Saturday, July 17, 2004

OT for IdiOTs 

Redstate.org (a sort of Daily Kos for Republicans) has recently challenged the Economic Policy Institute's findings on the new Bush overtime rules. Now, the EPI's preeminent blogger, the venerated Max B. Sawicky, strikes back:
A basic background is here. More than you ever wanted to know is here. This happens to be a fight where EPI research has had a significant impact. In particular, we have shown that millions of workers are adversely affected by overtime rule modifications proposed by the Bush Administration.

The Bush rules include some expansion of eligibility for overtime. Unfortunately the earnings level is not adjusted for inflation and the number of beneficiaries will therefore shrink over time.

On the more negative side, the exempt (from overtime) categories would be significantly expanded. Rules pertaining to what some have described as executives and bosses actually affect people like KFC managers. Chefs. Day care center teachers. Computer operators. (A complete list is here.)

EPI estimated that the most recent rule changes proposed by the Bush Administration would withdraw the right to overtime for at least six million workers. The Bushies and some conservatarian bloggers reject this number because it is not limited to those actually receiving overtime in a given year, or because it is just an estimate.

Actually it is a lower-bound estimate. The true number is undoubtedly higher. They failed to grasp that little detail.

On the conceptual argument, a good analogy is the rights of the accused to trial by jury, counsel, etc. You value this right even if you are not currently being prosecuted. Similarly the right to overtime is valuable, whether you make use of it or not in a given year, or never, as long as you have a non-zero chance of working overtime. Health insurance is valuable, even if you don't get sick. This is not rocket science.
A few of the other professions that will see their overtime protections relaxed or eliminated under the new rules: Medical assistants. Dental hygienists. Licensed veterinary technicians. Paralegals. Public defender investigators. Postmasters. Driving instructors. Mortgage loan officers. Social workers. Counselors of handicapped clients. Sales reps. Executive secretaries. Funeral service employees.

Max also links to an EPI Economic Snapshot showing that both hourly and weekly earnings, after adjusting for inflation, have actually fallen in six of the last seven months, and are now below where they were when the current "recovery" got underway in November of 2001.

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