November 23, 2016

Dear Leader shot himself in the foot on overtime rules; #WithDemocratsLikeThis

Federal District Judge Amos Mazzant III has granted a nationwide injunction against the Department of Labor's proposed changes in overtime rules, that would have upped the salary ceiling for salaried employees, outside of certain managerial classifications, to almost $50,000.

Now, here's where it gets fun.

Mazzant is apparently a lifelong Republican, or nearly so. He ran for a state district court position in 2004, and lost in the primary. No worry. Tricky Ricky Perry named him to a vacancy on the Fifth Court of Appeals. And people in Texas know that appointments to appeals courts vacancies, above district court ones, are definitely a matter of "connections."

Proof of how dyed-in-the-wool he is can be seen from things like a 2004 general election campaign filing for the seat, which he held for eight years. His campaign contributions from that include money from a legal general counsel at eXXXon. A later one, still in BushCo years at the White House, lists an assistant US attorney, among others. Beyond that, a lot of his campaign money came from lawyers and lawyers' PACs. It's perfectly legal, but not very ethical, even if the firms have no cased pending before the court in question.

And, he was of the giving sort, too. Like $1,250 to the Republican Party of Dallas County in 2006. He also, per this link and the screenshot, gave a total of $500 to John Cornyn's 2006 run and $750 to Shrub Bush's re-elect bid in 2004.

Add in that Mazzant, though not a native Texan, or even a Texas bachelor's degree college graduate, went to Baylor Law. Clear enough picture?

And, Dear Leader nominated him to the federal bench. Why? A tradeoff with Senate GOPers, or specifically, Texas senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn having a hold on judicial nominees, along the lines of pushing Merrick Garland for SCOTUS this summer?

We'll never know; that's probably the least sinister interpretation, and it's bad enough. Yes, Republican presidents, in the face of Democratic home-state senatorial judicial holds, might substitute a more moderate GOP nominee for a wingnut, but I'm unaware of the likes of a President Bush, when faced with Democrats opposing two judicial nominees of his in a state, replacing one of them with a clear Democrat.

Per my hashtag, surrendering hostages to fortune like this may have may have made Preznit Kumbaya feel more successful over the power of his mellifluous voice, but he would be wrong.

This isn't the first time Mazzant has recently made headlines, either. He's also the judge who recently tossed the SEC's original filing against our state's spavined mule attorney general, Ken Paxton.

This all said, setting aside the issue of whether or not Mazzant's legal ruling was right?

The Department of Labor regulatory changes weren't perfect.

I definitely like the idea of a COLA on the new overtime level. Hell, I blogged a decade ago, after the Dems regained control of Congress from the 2006 elections, that they should make a COLA part of a minimum-wage increase. (Which they did not.)

But, doubling the salary level, and immediately? Erm, no.

And, while the 47,000 and change might have been the right price for the coasts, it's too high for the heartland, especially with the immediate phase-in.

The Labor Department should have had this starting earlier, like after the 2012 presidential election, and on a graduated basis of, say, $2,500 a year over four years. Typical of Obama to think he could Kumbaya the GOP for too long on that issue, though.

Question is, can individual states set their own standards here, just as they can go beyond the feds on minimum wage?

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