A Clean Bill of Wage?

Bill Scher

This Wednesday, the House is expected pass a key piece of the First 100 Hours agenda — a painfully overdue raise in the minimum hourly wage from $5.15 to $7.25.

President Bush and the CEO lobby realize its political suicide to oppose the hike — it’s backed by 80% of Americans. Instead, they’re claiming to support it, while insisting that tax giveaways for business must be part of the deal.

Bush said last month that a pay raise should be paired with “targeted tax and regulatory relief to help these small businesses stay competitive and to help keep our economy growing,” subtly making the usual disingenuous right-wing complaint that higher wages lead to fewer jobs.

Econ blogger Angry Bear shredded that argument yesterday: under Bill Clinton and LBJ, both wages and jobs were up.

Thursday’s Wall Street Journal reported that one of the main business lobbies, the National Federation of Independent Business, is angling to tack on an “increase in the amount of new equipment” eligible for a tax write-off. Since “equipment” can mean a whole lot of things, like a shiny new SUV for the boss, this is nothing but a wider loophole that won’t create jobs.

With such deep public support for a higher minimum wage, Democrats clearly have the political upper hand to pass a “clean” bill without any CEO favors. But there are signs they may flinch.

On Fox News Sunday, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said his chamber would initially pass a clean bill. But when asked if Dems would acquiesce to Bush’s demands in the final legislation, he kept the door open with a “We’ll see.”

Further, the AFL-CIO blog is concerned that the Senate won’t pass a clean bill at all.

But Dems have no political need or substantive reason to accept that minimum wage hikes need to be “offset” with CEO giveaways.

They should either insist upon a clean bill, or they should up the ante: allow some pro-CEO provisions if we finally make the minimum wage automatically rise with inflation.

Six (red) states just passed initiatives implementing that common-sense solution to the problem of degrading minimum wages. There’s no reason we can’t solve that problem on the federal level once and for all.

Tell your representative to Pass The First 100 Hours Agenda.

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