On Thursday, against the wishes of every Republican on the council, Democratic members of the Louisville, Kentucky City Council voted to raise gradually the minimum wage from the federal minimum of $7.25 per hour to $9.00 per hour. Once Democratic Mayor Greg Fischer signs the measure, Louisville will become the 12th city this year to raise its minimum wage, while twenty-two states and the D.C. (as the map below indicates) have minimums above $7.25. Think Progress' Alan Pyke notes
Democratic politicians have latched onto $10.10 in recent years as a symbolic illustration of how working people have been left behind in recent decades. About a year after the Congressional Progressive Caucus proposed a $10.10 minimum wage, President Obama raised his own target from $9 to $10.10.
Evidently, the President evolved. He does a lot of that. He could do more. Entrepreneur and venture capitalist Nick Hanauer, notorious as a traitor to his class, writes
President Obama could raise the overtime threshold to $69,000—enough to cover the same 65 percent of salaried workers that it covered 40 years ago—and with no prior congressional approval. Because unlike the minimum wage, the overtime threshold is set through the Department of Labor’s existing regulatory authority.
Just think about it: With the stroke of his pen, President Obama could force your employer to pay you time-and-a-half for every hour you work over 40 hours a week. And if corporate America didn’t want to pay you time-and-a-half, they would need to hire hundreds of thousands of additional workers to pick up the slack—slashing the unemployment rate and forcing up wages. That’s 10.4 million middle-class Americans with more money in your pocket or more time to spend with your friends and family.
But the Obama administration could go even further. Many millions of Americans are currently exempt from the overtime rules—teachers, federal employees, doctors, computer professionals, etc.—and corporate leaders are lobbying hard to expand “computer professional” to mean just about anybody who uses a computer. Which is almost everybody. But were the Labor Department instead to narrow these exemptions, millions more Americans would receive the overtime pay they deserve.
In "The Judgement," the finale of The Fugitive, Lloyd Chandler (J.D. Cannon) agrees to clear Dr. Richard Kimble of the murder of the latter's wife. The dramatic conversation begins at 3:52 of the video below (best part, though, from 5:37 to conclusion) and ends with Lt. Gerard saying "You can keep that man alive. But you won't, will you?"
A minute later, witness Chandler agrees to testify, and so keep Kimble alive. With tens of millions of Americans working overtime, many for no additional pay, President Obama can take a major step toward ending the decline of the middle class and arresting the nation's slide toward a servant society. But he won't, will he?