I must be getting naive in my old age. I actually thought the minimum wage bill had so much momentum that the Republicans wouldn’t be able to stop it. I was wrong. Shameless Pub Senators, corporate puppets all, are staging a filibuster against the bill. The Democrats tried to end the “debate” but lost the cloture vote as the Pubs demanded – get this – more tax breaks for businesses to “make up” for what they will supposedly lose when the minimum wage is raised.
Prospects for an increase in the minimum wage suffered a setback today in the Senate, where a move fell short, at least for now, to raise the minimum by $2.10 an hour without tax breaks for small businesses.
The 54 “yes” votes were six short of the number needed to shut off debate and move on to consideration of the bill, which easily passed in the House two weeks ago. That bill would increase the wage to $7.25 from the current $5.15 in three steps, but without tax breaks. Today’s vote, while disappointing to those who want to raise the minimum wage at once and with no accompanying tax provisions, was hardly a surprise. A substantial number of senators had indicated they wanted to tie a wage increase to tax breaks for small businesses, to help offset the costs of the increase.
A substantial number of Republican senators, none of whom have ever had the slightest trouble passing $$$BILLIONS of $$$ in tax breaks for corporations already enjoying record profits without once asking, let alone demanding, accompanying breaks for consumers or employees. If the Republicans ever filibustered for, say, a bill to force any company whose profits were higher than 30% to offer free health care to their employees, I’d be sitting on the front porch waiting for the world to end.
In any case, the standard corporate argument that minimum wage hikes endanger the economy is pure bull puckey. On her blog, Barbara Ehrenreich writes in a post titled “Minimum Wage Rises, Sky Does Not Fall” (link via the Wege):
When I flew to Seattle last week, airport security gave me trouble over the four pound ham I was carrying. Several TSA officials gathered to consider the question of whether ham is a “gel,” to which I retorted: If ham is a gel, so am I. I suggested that they biopsy it for hidden box-cutters. I offered to divide it into 21 three-ounce chunks, each appropriately stowed in a Ziploc baggie. But no deal.
So I broke down and told them I was flying into what I had been warned would be a food-free zone: Washington, with the highest minimum wage in the country ($7.63 an hour), could hardly be expected to have affordable restaurants or a functioning economy of any kind. Notable conservative economists have almost unanimously predicted that an increased minimum wage would result in wild price increases and mass unemployment, and I had a suitcase full of clippings to prove it.
I would be entering a culinary wasteland, facing fast food meals of $20 and up, and if I tried to fall back on soup kitchens, thousands of unemployed restaurant workers would be lined up ahead of me.
So imagine my surprise when I arrived, ham-less, in Seattle to find it fully functional, if not positively bustling. Restaurants were packed, and I could still get a grilled salmon sandwich for $7.95 at a cafeteria-style place overlooking the sound. My hotel was amply staffed with congenial people and – perhaps only because of the un-Seattle-like cold, no beggars approached me on the streets. Nor can you say the dire effects of a higher minimum wage just haven’t had time to set in: Washington raised its minimum wage above the federal level of $5.15 an hour about a decade ago.
In fact, according to a January 9th article New York Times, Washington’s economy is booming, generating 90,000 new jobs in the last year. Even business groups have stopped griping about the state’s minimum wage. The article quotes a pizza store owner in the western part of the state: ”We’re paying the highest wage we’ve ever had to pay, and our business is still up more than 11 percent over last year.”
The whole argument is as bogus as Sam Brownback’s hair. Can you imagine the sheer greed it must take to motivate a party on the ropes to fight something like a hike in the minimum wage? It’s like condemning apple pie or protesting against a program of oral hygiene and regular professional dental care. I wish I could say there were consequences pending for this grandstanding corporate ass-kissing but with everything else going on right now – the SOTU, the Libby trial, the Iraq vote – what’s happening in the Senate is getting buried on page 86. Pelosi is talking tough, though.
In the House, Democrats threatened to stifle that effort by enforcing constitutional precedents that require all tax bills to originate in the House. They blamed Republicans for the brewing impasse.
“Democrats are committed to helping small businesses, but we should not delay a minimum wage increase another day in order to negotiate a tax package,” said Brendan Daly, a spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The bill will probably end up back in the House/Senate Conference Committee where differences are ironed out, which is what I suspect the Constitutional threat is all about. House Democrats are saying now that they may insist on the original form of the bill when they get to conference, but Senate Democrats seem ready to pass the bogus tax package if it will get approval from the Sockpuppet Pubs for the minimum wage bill.
The Pubs are pathetic. So much for “bi-partisanship”. This is approaching farce. They had their butts handed to them on a platter just two months ago in large part because corporate corruption in Congress had become so open and so pervasive that it turned everybody’s stomach, and now they’re acting like it never happened, and if it did happen we didn’t mean it, and if we did mean it it’s no skin off their nose.
This party, this “GOP”, has no pride, no shame, no conscience, and no civility. They need to be crushed.