Democrat presidential candidates are jumping on reports that the Labor Department provided information about how employers can comply with proposed overtime pay regulations while avoiding some of the extra costs associated with the 1.3 employees that will be newly eligible for overtime pay.
For example, The Washington Post reports that Senator Joseph Lieberman stated: “Instead of doing whatever it takes to create jobs, it seems like George W. Bush is working overtime to make life harder for working families.”
What Senator Lieberman ignores is that the Department of Labor’s advice is designed to save jobs. Regulations that cause employers costs to go up mean they have less money to spend-and some cash-strapped businesses will be forced to cut jobs. Helping employers manage new regulations without having to lay off workers is precisely what the Department of Labor is trying to do.
It can be frustrating when reality gets in the way of political rhetoric, but it is critical that Democrats understand that employer-mandates of pay increases are not costless — this money for some employees has to come from somewhere, and often it comes from other employees losing their jobs.
If Senator Lieberman and his fellow Democratic presidential candidates are really concerned about encouraging job creation, then they should find ways to reduce government’s burden on business, particularly taxes and regulations that increase the cost of hiring. That is the best prescription for a growing economy and a vibrant job market.