Joel Mowbray

  It?s the last bullet point, however, that is the supposed ?gotcha?: ?Workers? annual pay would be converted to an hourly rate and cut, with overtime added in to equal the former salary.? 

  The article continues, ?Essentially, employees would be working more hours for the same pay.?  Except, that?s not true.  Most would actually end up making at least as much as before under this ?option,? maybe even more.

  What the cost-benefit analysis actually stated was that salaried workers could be converted to hourly pay in such a way that, with overtime factored in, there would be ?virtually no changes in the total compensation paid.?  In other words, the worker in this scenario would be working the <i>same</i> hours for the same pay.  But if that worker puts in more overtime than usual, his total pay would go up accordingly.

  To be fair, the legalese used in cost-benefit analyses is difficult for even most lawyers to understand.  But the job of an AP reporter is to get those tricky details right.

  Because it?s AP?a news service with a well-deserved reputation for accuracy?the article ended up running in scores of newspapers and on the web sites of over 100 publications.  More than a dozen newspapers also wrote ?shame on you? editorials, scolding the Bush administration for its part in a shadowy conspiracy to keep low-income workers from getting overtime pay.

  The Democratic presidential candidates also jumped in the fray, which the same AP reporter noted in an apparent follow-up story headlined, ?Democrats criticize Bush administration suggestions on overtime.?  In that article, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry is typical when he claims that the cost-benefit analysis is a ?how-to guide for big business to avoid paying workers the overtime pay they?ve earned.?

  Of course, what Kerry said wasn?t true?but he must have figured that if the AP can get away with it, why couldn?t he?

Joel Mowbray

Joel Mowbray, who got his start with, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.

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