John Kline, Minnesota's Most Reprehensible Congressman (TM), has tried to come across as more cuddlier in recent months. He's toured dilapidated Native American schools and supported student loan relief for kids ripped off by for-profit colleges. But just when we were getting to know the newly huggable Kline — motto: Now 4 percent less evil! — the Burnsville Republican reverted to exactly who we thought he was.
(Updated motto: Now 2 percent less evil!)
Last week, Kline resumed his role as corporate manservant, rising up against President Obama's proposal that would make nearly five million more U.S. workers eligible for overtime pay. According to the White House, overtime rules are in dire need of recalibration, since they easily allow companies to skirt paying overtime without much creativity.
Any salaried employee who's paid more than $455 a week, or $23,660 annually, can be deemed a "manager." Thus, a salaried worker can toil 60 hours a week and not get paid an extra cent as long as employers stick them with a bogus title and pay them at least $24,000. This loophole has resulted in what some say amounts to indentured servitude.
The president wants to raise the minimum salary from $23,660 to $50,440. If workers put in overtime, companies would either have to increase their salaries or pay overtime.
The change would affect millions of workers, 56 percent of them women. "This is an issue of basic fairness. If you work longer and harder, you deserve to be paid for it," Obama said last week during a speech in LaCrosse, Wis. "We're making more workers eligible for the overtime you've earned. And it's one of the single most important steps we can take to help grow middle-class wages."
The issue will be open for public comment over the coming months. A final decision is slated for next year.
Meanwhile, as the nation comes out of the holiday weekend, Kline will be far removed from the daily challenges of working Minnesotans and back inside the Beltway, enjoying his annual congressional salary of $174,000 that's flanked by benefits for which the rest of us would donate a kidney.
After all, this is Kline's world. We just get to work in it.
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