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January 25, 2007
Minimum Wage Gets The Senate Treatment

Now we know why Nancy Pelosi and the new Democratic majority would not allow debate or amendment on the minimum-wage increase they passed as part of their 100 Hours effort. It turns out that sticking small businesses with a big bill without any effort to cushion the impact with tax breaks doesn't enjoy the kind of popularity that Pelosi & Co claimed:

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 week 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.

Next, the Senate will debate what kind of tax breaks to attach to a wage increase. Then, the Senate will have to agree with the House. President Bush has signaled that he would sign a bill providing for a wage increase with related tax breaks.

All 43 “no” votes on the motion to end debate were cast by Republicans. Five Republicans joined 47 Democrats and two independents in voting “yes.” They were Norm Coleman of Minnesota, Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, John W. Warner of Virginia and Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, both of Maine. (Senator Sam Brownback, Republican of Kansas, and Senators Tom Carper of Delaware and Tim Johnson of South Dakota, both Democrats, did not vote.)

Well, that last part was just a little tacky. Tim Johnson didn't vote because he's hospitalized, not because he chose to abstain. One might think the New York Times could have included that piece of information in its reporting.

The Republicans managed to hold 43 of 49 votes together for a de facto filibuster. The five who voted for the bill have long championed a minimum-wage increase, including Norm Coleman in Minnesota. The overall unity of the GOP serves notice that the Democrats will not have the ability to push legislation through Congress without reckoning with the Republicans, Pelosi's efforts notwithstanding.

In the end, both chambers will likely approve an increase with some tax relief attached. The political benefits of doing both, separately or together, are too attractive for politicians to eschew for long. Both parties will claim some measure of victory in the compromise, and the Republic will move onto the next political standoff. The only result will be the inflation that this will cause and the loss of lower-wage jobs that always accompany these minimum-wage increases and the resultant erosion of buying power -- which will prompt the economic meddlers in Washington to insist on another increase in the next three or four years.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 25, 2007 6:29 AM

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» No Minimum Wage Increase . . . from Church and State
. . . Yet. Pelosi & Friends' Tazmanian Devil, whirlwind of work, that included a sloppy bill to raise the minimum wage by $2.10 without any tax incentives for small businesses, proves that forcing bills through Congress is going to require Democrats ... [Read More]

Tracked on January 25, 2007 9:55 AM


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