Friday, July 28, 2006

Not Only Are You A Cheat, You're A Gutless Cheat As Well

Republican leaders are willing to allow the first minimum wage increase in a decade but only if it's coupled with a cut in future inheritance taxes on multimillion-dollar estates, congressional aides said Friday.

A package GOP leaders planned to bring to a vote Friday or Saturday in the House also would renew several popular tax breaks, including a research and development credit for businesses, and deductions for college tuition and state sales taxes, said a spokesman for House Majority Leader John Boehner.

The wage would increase from $5.15 to $7.25 per hour, phased in over the next three years, said Kevin Madden, the aide to Boehner, an Ohio Republican.

The maneuver is aimed at defusing the wage hike as a campaign issue for Democrats while using its popularity to spur enactment of the Republican Party's long-sought goal of permanently cutting taxes on millionaires' estates.


Democrats immediately expressed outrage, saying low-income workers deserved a straight vote on increasing the minimum wage uncoupled to other measures.

"It's political blackmail to say the only way that minimum wage workers can get a raise is to give a tax giveaway to the wealthiest Americans," said Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Massachusetts. "Members of Congress raised their own pay -- no strings attached. Surely, common decency suggests that minimum wage workers deserve the same respect."

"It's outrageous the Republican Congress can't simply help poor people without doing something for their wealthy contributors," said Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio.


The move comes after almost 50 rank-and-file Republican lawmakers pressed House leaders -- who strongly oppose the wage hike and have thus far prevented a vote -- to schedule the measure for debate. Democrats have been hammering away on the wage hike issue and have public opinion behind them

"We weren't going to be denied," said Rep. Steve LaTourette, R-Ohio, a leader in the effort. "How can you defend $5.15 an hour in today's economy?"

It was a decade ago, during the hotly contested campaign year of 1996, that Congress voted to increase the minimum wage. A person working 40 hours per week at minimum wage makes $10,700, which is below the poverty line for workers with families.

In advancing the tax plan, GOP leaders excluded a measure popular with small businesses that would make it easier for small businesses and the self-employed to band together and buy health insurance plans for employees at a lower cost.

That idea was blasted as a "poison pill" by Democrats and labor unions. The small business health insurance bill exempts new "association health plans" from state regulations requiring insurers to cover treatments such as mental health and maternity care. And opponents fear they would offer inferior prescription drug benefits.

Democrats have made increasing the wage a pillar of their campaign platform and are pushing to raise the wage to $7.25 per hour over two years. In June, the Republican-controlled Senate refused to raise the minimum wage, rejecting a proposal from Democrats.

See, this is yet another example of why we need universal health care, so we can get that off the table for everybody, rich and poor. It's also a prime example of how going for the bottom line, for their business constituents who don't want to lose any profit in any way, has made the Republican lawmakers in this country corrupt and stupid. Most of all, it's an example of how the governing process has gone to hell in a handbasket.

What we're talking about here is the dignity to be able to have a chance to eat and pay rent. The Repubs are holding it hostage to get their fucking estate tax passed, so that, even if those in the Old Boy Network can't take it with them, they can pass it down to the next generation of robber barons.

The very idea of a straight up-and-down vote on only the minimum wage hike is anathema to the Repubs. They have to wheel and deal, they have to Further Their Agenda. Their agenda is supposed to be taking care of the priorities of this country -- not the coffers of a few multimillionaires.

And they think this will provide them political cover.

The Dems have to bludgeon them with this. A few of the quotes above are a good start, but they have to hammer them on this endlessly. When the Repubs say, "Hey, we offered you a vote on the Minimum Wage", the Dems have to respond, "Only if we gave away tens of billions more to the very rich. You keep giving stuff to the very rich. There are other people in this country than the very rich. And they're trying to eat."

Once again: Bottom-line profit as the only measurement of success is about as wrong as it gets.

even if those in the Old Boy Network can't take it with them, they can pass it down to the next generation of robber barons

This is why I encourage the superwealthy to emulate the Pharaohs: build enormous, self-indulgent tombs into which you place all your wealth (including, say, bearer bonds and stock certificates). Then those less fortunate but technologically competent can defuse the traps and remove the wealth, thereby redistributing it more equitably.

Hey, it's as good as anything the Republicans have offered in forty years. :-)
Don't these people know we're at war? Who ever heard of cutting taxes during wartime, especially for the people who can afford taxes the most?

"Support the troops", my ass.
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