Fox News renewed its attacks against federal overtime protections ahead of a rumored announcement that the Department of Labor will extend guaranteed overtime to qualifying employees earning up to $52,000 annually.
Throughout the day on June 10, Fox News and Fox Business personalities derided an expected proposal from the Labor Department that would expand guaranteed overtime pay to millions of American workers who currently work uncompensated hours. During a news update on Fox Business' Mornings with Maria Bartiromo, contributor Cheryl Casone said the rule was being called “frankly, a job killer.” On Varney & Co., host Stuart Varney complained that President Obama was attempting to lift wages “by fiat,” and claimed that the overtime rule would harm “the assistant managers of this world, who will no longer become assistant managers.” On Cavuto: Coast to Coast, host Neil Cavuto quoted Rep. Tim Walberg's (R-MI) opposition to overtime protections, adding that “you can't fathom” why the Labor Department would act to expand overtime.
On Fox News' Happening Now, co-host Jon Scott was joined by reporter Kevin Cirilli of The Hill and Weekly Standard editor Daniel Halper to discuss political and economic repercussions of such a regulatory change. Halper blasted the administration for engaging in supposed “left-wing economic engineering” before concluding that the rule change might “end up hurting the average worker”:
HALPER: You have to give it to President Obama, he promised to govern with a pen and the phone, and he is. He's coming through. He's going around Congress ... the problem with this left-wing economic engineering is that it might not work, right? It might help some people, but it's probably going to hurt a lot of other people. Why should an employer, for instance, increase the hours of its current employees, give a lot of overtime, if it will cost them a lot more?
The employer, their bottom line, is to worry about their bottom line -- to worry about making money. And if this costs them too much money, well they're just going to find a way around it. And it's going to end up hurting the average worker and laborer. And, it's not going to achieve its stated goal, no matter how noble it may be.
In fact, economists believe expanding overtime protections to include more salaried employees is vital to long-term economic recovery. Under current federal guidelines, salaried employees are only guaranteed overtime pay if they earn up to $23,660 per year. Raising the threshold to $52,000 would expand overtime protections to at least 6.1 million additional American workers, and bring the policy roughly in line with federal standards last witnessed in 1975, according to the Economic Policy Institute. Economist Jared Bernstein of the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities predicted that the rule might actually boost job creation by encouraging employers to hire more part-time help.
Fox has a long history of opposing overtime protections while ignoring any economic benefits. The network attacked the administration in March 2014 when President Obama initially requested that the Labor Department review its standards. Despite admitting that they did not know what the administration would propose, Fox personalities called the regulatory change a job killer and complained that it amounted to “forced income redistribution.” Fox figures worried that paying people for the hours that they actually work "undercuts work ethic" and created a "disincentive to stand out." Fox host Bill O'Reilly surmised that the president “may be actually hurting” workers by extending overtime protections, while Fox's Jon Scott wondered if the proposal was just an election-year distraction.