U.S. President Barack Obama greets attendees in the crowd after signing House Resolution 2146, the "Defending Public Safety Employees' Retirement Act and Trade Preference Extension Act of 2015," June 29, 2015. 
Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Obama to roll out sweeping overtime rule change


President Barack Obama plans to propose a huge raise for the American people on Tuesday, a senior administration official confirmed to NBC News on Monday.

Politico first reported that the White House will unveil a new overtime rule, which could increase wages for as many as five million Americans as soon as next year if implemented. The new rule would more than double salary levels under which workers qualify for overtime pay once they surpass 40 hours of labor on any given week. The threshold for overtime pay is currently $23,660, but under the new rule it would rise to $50,440.

NBC’s Kristin Donnelly reports that, if instituted, the Obama plan would be the most sweeping policy yet undertaken by the president to assist the middle class, and it would constitute the most ambitious intervention in the wage economy in at least a decade.

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“The president said he wanted to go big here and he did,” Jared Bernstein, a former White House economist, told The New York Times. “I can’t think of any other rule change or executive order that would lift more middle-class workers.”

The rollout of this proposal includes a blog for Huffington Post penned by the president himself, which was published on Monday. “In this country, a hard day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay,” Obama wrote in the op-ed. “That’s at the heart of what it means to be middle class in America.”

“Right now, too many Americans are working long days for less pay than they deserve,” the president added.

According to Politico, the Chamber of Commerce has already come out in opposition to the plan, which would set overtime rule levels back where they were under progressive icon President Franklin D. Roosevelt. And Republican lawmakers like Rep. Tim Walberg have already come out against overtime proposals in the past, alleging they could “inflict harm on the nation’s workplace.”

The move appears to be a deliberate attempt on the Obama administration’s part to address the frustrating stagnation of wages despite a consistent economic recovery, and will likely be challenged in court and Congress by its opponents.

“As president, my top priority is to strengthen the middle class, expand opportunity and grow the economy. That’s why I believe in middle-class economics – the idea that our country does best when everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules,” Obama wrote in his piece for Huffington Post. “It’s driven me from day one. It’s fueled our American comeback. And it’s at the heart of the fundamental choice our country faces today.”

Obama also teased further remarks on his overtime protections extension that will come on Thursday at an event in La Crosse, Wisconsin. The White House plans to release more details about the proposal however on Tuesday.

“America is at its best when we look out for one another. We soar when we strive to do better for one another,” Obama wrote Monday. “That’s what I’m focused on and that’s what I’ll fight for every day for the next 18 months.”

Additional reporting by Kristin Donnelly.