In January, the House passed a clean, no-strings-attached bill to raise the minimum wage from $5.15 an hour to $7.25. Then, in late January, the Senate Republican minority killed the clean bill and filibustered for a week until Democrats agreed to include $8.3 billion in business tax breaks as part of the package.
In spite of getting what they wanted, the bill still hasn't passed. Republicans refused to let the bill go to conference because they were afraid the tax giveaways wouldn't survive. Meanwhile, 13 million workers continue to work at poverty level wages, left behind by the so-called "moral majority."
There's a glimmer of hope that all is not lost though. From the AFL-CIO Blog:
There may have been a small step forward last week. Before leaving town for a two-week spring vacation, the Senate passed a supplemental spending bill for the war in Iraq that includes the $2.10 raise in the minimum wage. But the trade off for that $2.10 is more than $12 billion in tax breaks for business. That’s right, they tacked on another $3.9 billion in tax giveaways.I guess Republicans conveniently forgot that companies already received $300 billion in tax breaks since the last minimum wage increase. They should just pass the bill without any tax breaks. This is just a greedy grab for more.
Minimum wage supporters hope the action might jump-start House and Senate negotiations on the tax break part of the minimum wage bill. The House has offered $1.3 billion in targeted tax breaks but that leaves a $10 billion gap to overcome.
In the end though, none of this will probably matter. President Bush said he will veto the overall bill because it calls for the beginning of a troop withdrawal from Iraq, and I have no doubt he'll follow through with his threat. As Cheney reminded us over the weekend, "the U.S. military answers to the president, not Congress."
That's correct, but I'd like to remind Cheney and Bush that they answer to the voters, and the voters have overwhelmingly said they want our troops home within a year.
The same goes for members of both houses. You answer to the voters, and the voters overwhelmingly favor increasing the minimum wage. What are you waiting for?