Nancy Pelosi gets more interesting by the minute. Refusing to sit still for a threatened Republican filibuster of the minimum wage bill because the House cut $$$7Billion in corporate tax breaks out of the Senate version, she has come up with a whole new tactic: she’s tying it to the war appropriations package.
House leaders have added legislation raising the federal minimum wage to an emergency spending bill for the Iraq war. They hope to break a logjam with the Senate over the wage bill, a top Democratic priority that was once seen on Capitol Hill as a relatively easy compromise.
House leaders also hope the addition of the wage provisions will induce House liberals to vote for the $105 billion war package, which authorizes funds for Iraq while setting a timeline for withdrawal that would require combat operations to end by August 2008.
House Democrats unveiled the plan yesterday but did not release a draft of the legislation, saying that details were being worked out. According to Democratic aides, the proposal would increase the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour from $5.15 over two years and grant $1.3 billion in tax breaks for restaurants and other affected businesses.
Those provisions have already passed the House. The Senate also approved the wage increase, but added $8.3 billion in business tax breaks to placate Republicans in that chamber. House leaders oppose such a large tax package and hope to force a smaller one through the Senate by tying the minimum-wage increase to the Iraq bill.
The Republics, of course, have been furious because she wouldn’t let them turn a bill to raise the minimum wage for ordinary workers into a huge barrel of corporate pork. Charlie Grassley was already whining that the original $$$8Billion$$$ was “peanuts”. He’s choking on the new number, apoplectic, you might say. He called it “a peanut shell”.
Which, to the corporatocracy, it is. A measly $$$billion$$$? Over the last decade of Pub control, they got used to extorting that much just to hype Chicken McNuggets in Shang’hai. A mere $$$billion$$$ isn’t even real money. It’s chump-change. They don’t bother to get out of bed in the morning for a lousy $$$billion$$$. The only time a $$$billion$$$ becomes significant to them is when it’s going to somebody else. Workers, for instance.
Don’t know whether Pelosi’s gambit will work but it’s got possibilities. If they go ahead and filibuster, it opens the door to charges that the Pubs care more about obeying their corporate Masters than they do about funding the troops in combat, a nice little squeeze play that has the potential of running them up a stump and the added virtue of being accurate – they do care more about obeying their corporate Masters than about supporting the troops with anything more than rhetorical lip service, as they’ve proved time and time again.
What’s most heartening to me is the suggestion that Democrats – a few of them, anyway – finally realize what they’re dealing with: a clutch of conscienceless oligarchs and plutocrat-slaves who have to be fought at every turn and shoved against the wall when they don’t behave. Give them an inch and they’ll take ten miles, everything in your bank account, and your pants while they’re at it. They don’t understand or respond to anything but strength and persistence. To defeat them, you’ve got to be willing to use every weapon in your arsenal.
Pelosi’s got a goddamn armory and is proving she knows how to use it (or at least is learning fast). Good for her.
Update: An interesting discussion with commenter Brendan, who disagreed with Pelosi’s strategy tying the two bills together, partially revolved around his concern about the removal of the language that would have forced Bush to come to the Congress for permission to invade Iraq. Turns out that language-stripping was, as I suspected, the result of pressure from Blue Dog Dems. They threatened to abandon the bill if the language wasn’t removed, and hauled in lobbyists from AIPAC to twist arms. Pelosi gave in.
I still don’t think the language will stay removed (as the linked article shows, Pelosi’s already taking hits over it and there are more to come) but Brendan’s implication that a bad Iraq bill could hurt the passage of the minimum wage portion is clearly justified. It was an interesting strategy but it was a strategy predicated on a fairly strong movement to to get a bill passed on Iraq that would get the troops out in a structured, predictable way. The BD’s have sabotaged that effort pretty thoroughly, and at this point I have to admit Brendan was right: Pelosi’s strategy was interesting and gutsy but it didn’t work, even against the conservative interests in her own party.
Time to regroup. As Brendan said, the bills need to be re-separated and the Iran language needs to be put back in. Otherwise, the min wage section will be held hostage to the fight over Iraq/Iran and could go down because of it.
(Link via poputonian at Hullabaloo)
Update 2 (March 16): Think Progress is reporting that Pelosi, who took a hammering upon removing the requirement for Bush to come to Congress for permission to attack Iran, has reversed her decision…sort of.
House members this week removed language from the Iraq spending bill (which was passed by committee yesterday) that would require President Bush to get congressional authorization for any war against Iran. But CQ reports:
On March 13, the same day House Appropriations Chairman David R. Obey, D-Wis., said he had removed the Iran provision from the draft war spending measure, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., quietly promised Appropriations Committee Democrats that she would soon bring the measure up as a stand-alone bill, said James P. Moran, D-Va., who attended the meeting in Pelosi’s suite.
Like I said….
(Link via Crooks and Liars)