Senate Republicans block minimum wage hike

(Reuters) Senate Republicans on Wednesday blocked a Democratic bill to increase the federal minimum wage for the first time in a decade, demanding it first include small-business tax relief. On a vote of 54-43, Democrats fell six short of the 60 needed to end debate and go to passage of the House-passed measure, which would raise the minimum wage to $7.25 per hour from $5.15 per hour over two years.

Mystech: I’m not really certain the “small-business tax relief” used to shoot down the minimum wage hike will create the sympathy the Republicans probably hoped for. This after a long line of add-on attempts like military spending plans, estate tax repeal and further tax breaks for the highest income brackets. Maybe they should keep their add-ons a bit leaner initiallly; start out asking for a cookie, then move up to indentured servitude.

Republicans demanded tax breaks be added to the legislation to help small business cover the proposed pay hike for millions of America’s lowest paid workers. Senate Democratic leaders have indicated they would be willing to go along with some sort of tax relief if necessary to win approval.

But Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts led the charge against attaching tax breaks to the bill, saying in the past decade the U.S. Congress has provided billions of dollars in tax relief to corporations and the wealthiest Americans.

“Why can’t we do just one thing for minimum wage workers? No strings attached, no giveaways for the powerful?,” Kennedy asked.

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14 Responses

  1. I actually think the small business tax relief is a good thing if the minimum wage increase is passed. It will help those businesses hardest hit by the minimum wage increase by offsetting those costs with tax decrease.

    It’s not “giveaways for the powerful”, small business owners aren’t “the powerful”. It’s something that could mean the difference between a small business running or folding, and all the people that work there (minimum wage employees or not) out of work.

  2. Mystech says:

    Oh, I’m all for the support and nurturing of small business. My concern was exactly how “small business” was qualified, particularly in light of how earlier attempts to attach riders to the bill were somewhat unrelated to the topic of the wage rate.

  3. I thought how “small business” was qualified is easy to see – small businesses are those that would be hardest hit by this legislation. Personally, I have no problem with the Republicans trying to kill it any way they can – government should not be determining wages or interfering with contracts freely entered into by individuals. But, I think that, if the minimum wage is going to be increased, then tax decreases to the businesses that would be hardest hit by that increase to offset the increases are reasonable.

  4. Mystech says:

    It was? I was looking for a copy of the full proposal this morning, but couldn’t find a satisfactory (unedited) one. Can you link me to your find? Thanks.

  5. Mystech says:

    Not satisfied with merely blocking the minimum wage hike, Sen. John McCain and 27 Other Republicans Demand Repeal of Minimum Wage. Names and details after the link:

  6. Good for them. There shouldn’t be a federal minimum wage.

  7. Mystech says:

    Spoken like a good Anarchist. Now put the pipe (bomb) down. 🙂

  8. Heh heh heh :). Truthfully, I think it’s better handled as a State issue. I don’t see anywhere in the US Constitution that allows for a federally-mandated minimum wage, and the commerce clause doesn’t really apply (and has been way, way too widely interpreted anyway). Around 30 States have their own minimum wage laws currently, States can more easily respond to their own economies, and they can modify their own State Constitutions to either allow or disallow this kind of lawmaking much more easily than the US Constitution can be modified. Plus, employers and employees can relocate into the States that have the laws that they feel fit them best. Win-win all around.

  9. Mystech says:

    Sure, many states have done just that (all in favor of a raise) in light of the past Congressional roadblock on wages (with some pretty brutal lobbyist opposition in some cases). My concern is that a federal prohibition against a minimum/living wage (instead of simple repealing an existing law as is the case this time), would be a future Republican goal. As it is, under the States model. The federally mandated rate is a sort of safety net, with several states choosing to exceed it and a few lagging behind and ignoring minimum wage earners.

  10. Again, I don’t have too much of a problem with a federal prohibition against a minimum wage and especially against a “living wage”. But, if a minimum wage law is in effect, I’d much rather see it done more locally than on a federal level. The problem with a minimum/living wage law as a “safety net” is that it becomes a barrier to improvement, discouraging those who recieve such from improving themselves. An article on this very subject:

  11. Mystech says:

    I see the “safety net” not as a measure to prevent people from earning below a certain amount, but of companies from from undermining wages. As far as a federal prohibition that would certainly dis-empower state and local ability to set rates, wouldn’t it? Not sure I can see how that supports the state’s right direction on wages.

    I’m sure there is plenty of vigorous literature out there about how low income people are lazy and lack motivation for improvement. That sort of information is very helpful to many interests.

  12. Again, it’s government interfering with people’s ability to interact with each other on their own terms. Companies may try to undermine wages, but people have the ability to organize to prevent that as well. As long as government isn’t preventing people from doing that, then I don’t see too much of a problem. Yes, it may interfere with the States ability to make laws, but I don’t think they have a “right” to dictate employment terms.

    You may not like the evidence that a government-mandated minimum, or especially “living” wage tends to prevent people from improving themselves and getting better jobs, but the evidence suggests that is the case. You can ignore it if you like.

  13. Mystech says:

    Ok, thanks for clearing that up. I just wanted to make sure you were advocating NO government level of corporate regulation (state, local or federal).

    At the risk of begging the question, you recommend that people organize and do something. I was under the impression that using one’s elected officials was people doing just that; preventing, encouraging or regulating aspects of people’s nation.

    As for “evidence”, you’re absolutely right… we all have the ability to chose which opinions we endorse and invest our trust in. Particularly important when dealing with so many research groups and think tanks that enjoy large amounts of funding from major corporations and similar special interest groups.

  14. This is essentially my opinion – I don’t think that government should be interfering with wages, whatsoever. I think that should be totally up to the employers and the employees. I don’t think that the government should interfere with the employees organizing to get better wages and benefits, either. But, if government is going to interfere with wages and there isn’t anything that can be done about it, I think that it’s best done on the State level, as it’s more locally controlled.

    Using one’s elected officials to force someone to do something, under penalty of men with guns coming to kidnap them and, if they resist, kill them, is a very far cry from organizing one’s fellow employees to collectively bargain for better wages, with both the employer and the employees having the option of terminating their employment if they cannot come to an agreement – no kidnapping or killing involved.

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