Minimum Wage Deal Cut in Senate

The Senate has just passed the minimum wage bill which will go to the president as part of the supplemental package funding the war in Iraq. The bill, worked out in Conference Committee mainly by the Democratic majority, will cut the $$$12Bil$$$ in corporate tax breaks originally demanded by Senate Republicans under a threat of filibuster to a still-extortionate $$$4.8Bil$$$.

An improvement of sorts, I suppose.

Though the Senate initially approved tax cuts worth about $12 billion over five years, House negotiators wanted less than $2 billion. The final figure, $4.84 billion, includes several provisions, including giving expanded tax breaks to restaurants and other small businesses that hire disabled veterans and residents of poor neighborhoods as well as allowing small businesses to write off a greater portion of their investments for tax purposes.

Charles B. Rangel, the House Ways and Means chairman whose committee oversees tax policy, praised the deal as a way to promote job growth and ensure that the nation’s lowest-paid employees earn more. About 5.6 million workers currently earn less than $7.25 an hour; an estimated 7.4 million workers earn slightly more than that and could receive a pay increase as a result of a change to the minimum wage, according to the Economic Policy Institute, a labor-backed research group.

“This package provides common-sense, responsible tax relief so our small businesses can continue to hire new workers and promote economic growth in our communities,” said Rangel, a New York Democrat.

Uh-huh. Rep Sen Charles Grassley doesn’t think so, but, oddly, he’s blaming the Dems.

Democrats have stripped out a variety of contentious tax measures that had been tied to the minimum-wage legislation, under pressure from some of the nation’s largest business lobbies.

Gone is a measure that would have restricted what executives and other highly paid employees can place in deferred-compensation plans, one of the most popular benefits in corporate America. Gone is a proposal to deny tax deductions for fines and penalties associated with lawsuits. And gone are measures to target a variety of corporate tax shelters.

The demise of these measures infuriated one of their chief sponsors, who yesterday accused Democrats of “caving in to K Street, pure and simple.”

“Frankly, I thought it would be easier to close tax loopholes and tax shelters with Democrats in control of Congress than Republicans, and I’ve been totally dismayed,” Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) said in an interview. “Democratic leaders blew it for small business.”

Democratic leaders? Hey, Charlie! It was your party that demanded those excisions and threatened to block the bill if they didn’t get them. How’s come you ain’t spreadin’ some of that love around to them? Huh?

Democrats’…talks with the GOP had stalled for months as liberal party members argued against more tax breaks for businesses. But they reached an agreement over the weekend that broke the logjam and could draw enough Republican support to pass.

“It’s past time to get a pay increase on the ground for America’s minimum-wage workers,” Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus , a Montana Democrat who has advocated business tax cuts, said in a statement.

Maybe Charlie’s PO’d at Blue Dogs like Baucus, but the fact of the matter is, Chuckie, that without the synchronized voting routine of the Pubs, the BD’s wouldn’t be in a position to demand anything (see the House for template). Why don’t you try going after the assholes in your own party for a change? Or would that take just a little more courage than you’ve got access to?

Meanwhile, BD Baucus – speaking courageously through spokeswoman Carol Guthrie – promises to “re-visit” the corporate tax breaks that didn’t make it into the package, holding out hope for that other $$$8Bil$$$.

Junior has said he’ll sign a minimum wage bill if it includes enough business tax breaks, leaving aside exactly what “enough” may mean, but since it’s included in the supplemental and he’s already promised to veto that for other reasons, it don’t mean much. Still, the Dems promise if he does veto it, they’ll attach the min-wage provision to a different bill.

As Kurt Vonnegut would have said, and so it goes. The bill to help working stiffs gets bounced around while Pub puppets make sure the corporatocracy gets its pound-and-a-half of flesh first. Same-old-same-old.

If I sound disgusted, I am. Thoroughly.


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