2016 has been a most interesting and unpredictable year for politics and business in the U.S.
The leading contenders for president, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, are clearly disliked by a majority of voters yet they will likely be their party’s nominee.
Ms. Clinton is still under investigation from the FBI for her misuse of her private email server while she served as Secretary of State, so there is still a possibility that she will be indicted for mishandling top secret information. Such an indictment would be very controversial since it involves a member of President Obama’s political party.
The logical person to replace Ms. Clinton, Bernie Sanders, is not seen as electable since he’s an avowed Socialist, so it’s unclear who the Democrats will select.
Fortunately for busy HR professionals, politics in an election year seem to have distracted the President from implementing new, more liberal labor laws. It’s possible that the President’s new Overtime Rule, which dramatically increases the number of employees who would be considered ‘non-exempt’ and therefore eligible for overtime premium, might be delayed.
The Republican majority in Congress introduced legislation in March, 2016 to block this new Overtime Rule citing that its impact may hurt non-profit organizations (such as universities and charities) and discourage employers from hiring the lowest-paid employees who were formerly classified as exempt from overtime premiums. This could also affect high technology firms who frequently hire young college graduates and pay them low salaries in exchange for the promise of stock grants when their companies
go public and issue stock. Requiring overtime for college grads, many of whom work 80-100 hours a week, would be very expensive, particularly for new firms.
Unions continue to lose members in both the public and private sectors yet they still use member contributions to support labor-friendly Democratic election candidates rather than focus on recruiting new members.
The U.S. Supreme Court remains evenly split between conservative and liberal justices with the unexpected death of Antonin Scalia. Scalia usually voted with fellow conservatives on the Court. President Obama has proposed a replacement for Justice Scalia but Republicans in the Senate are refusing to consider the replacement in an election year. The President’s nominee, Merrick Garland, has a record of writing both conservative and liberal-friendly decisions as a judge but the Republicans aren’t sure he’d be a reliable conservative voice. Their thinking may change if Hillary Clinton is elected President in November because any nominee she’d propose would be more liberal than Judge Garland.
Many things can happen over the next 7 months to influence the Presidential election – terrorist attacks, stock market crash, or the indictment of Hillary Clinton. This promises to be a very suspenseful year for the U.S. and the world.