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Commentary, sarcasm and snide remarks from a Florida resident of over thirty years. Being a glutton for punishment is a requirement for residency here. Who am I? I've been called a moonbat by Michelle Malkin, a Right Wing Nut by Daily Kos, and middle of the road by Florida blog State of Sunshine. Tell me what you think.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Where's the Dramamine? Part Four

This time it is the New York Times with inconsistent editorials. On June 23rd they wrote-

At the same time that Republicans are fighting to exempt the richest estates from taxes, they are blocking a raise for the nation's poorest workers.

Senate Democrats tried unsuccessfully this week to raise the federal minimum wage, which stands at just $5.15 an hour. It has not been increased in nearly a decade, and at its current stingy level, the rate flies in the face of Americans' belief that those who work hard and play by the rules will be rewarded. A minimum-wage worker earns just $10,700 a year, nearly $6,000 below the poverty line for a family of three. Since the minimum wage was first adopted, there has been a long tradition of bipartisan support for regular raises. Presidents Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon and George H. W. Bush all signed increases into law. Americans across the political spectrum strongly support the minimum wage, and believe it should be significantly higher. A recent poll by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center found that 83 percent of Americans favored increasing the minimum wage by $2.

Nevertheless, since 1997 minimum-wage increases have regularly been blocked in Congress. The restaurant industry and other low-wage employers that make heavy campaign contributions have thrown their weight around with great success. A bill sponsored by Edward Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, to increase the minimum wage by $2.10 over two years drew the support this week of 52 senators, including eight Republicans, but Republican leaders threw up procedural barriers. And in the House, Republican leaders are not letting a minimum-wage increase come to a vote, apparently because it would pass.

Just 23 percent of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing, according to a recent New York Times/CBS News poll. These dismal ratings are no surprise when Congress's highest economic priority is handing out tax cuts to millionaires and oil companies, and its one point of fiscal restraint is protecting employers from having to pay a decent wage to factory workers and waiters.
So the Times favors a minimum wage increase. As does TFM, I don't buy into the statistical arguments. Yes 2.1 Million workers make minimum wage or less(I was one of these briefly) but how many make very little above it and would affected by any hike. The wage hasn't been increased in ten years almost. Distinguished bloggers who I like, Don Surber and Professor Bainbridge oppose any increase. Are they in favor of any minimum wage at all? For if it shouldn't be increased, I'd argue it should then be eliminated.

Right now unemployment is very low, here in Palm Beach County its about three percent. Employers are having trouble finding employees. I just don't know how much of an effect an increase will have that. If an employer needs workers, they'll hire them. If they can do without, they won't hire.

Back to the Times. Today they wrote-

The two bills passed by the House last Friday and Saturday reflect a single Republican electoral strategy. Representatives want to appear to have accomplished something when they face voters during their five-week summer break, which starts today, and at the same time keep campaign donations flowing from special-interest constituents who are well aware that a great deal was left to do.

One of the bills was a pension reform measure. The other was a grab bag that contains three main items: an extension of the expired tax credit for corporate research; a $2.10 an hour increase in the minimum wage, to be phased in over three years; and a multibillion-dollar estate-tax cut. That’s the deal House Republicans are really offering — a few more dollars for 6.6 million working Americans; billions more for some 8,000 of the wealthiest families.

It is cynical in the extreme. Extending the research tax credit is noncontroversial, yet pressing. A minimum wage increase is compelling — morally, politically and financially — but Republicans generally oppose it. And the estate-tax cut has already failed to pass the Senate twice this summer. So House Republicans linked it to the research credit and the minimum wage, hoping to flip a handful of senators from both parties who have voted against estate-tax cuts in the past. Democrats who vote against the estate tax, Republicans think, can be painted as voting against a higher minimum wage.

This is an attempt at extortion. There is no way to justify providing yet another enormous tax shelter to the nation’s wealthiest heirs in the face of huge budget deficits, growing income inequality and looming government obligations for Social Security and Medicare.

As for the House’s pension bill, it is not the overhaul that Congress has long been promising. The promised bill would have meshed House and Senate versions of pension reform into a single bill that would have almost certainly passed each chamber. But the conference was fatally derailed last Thursday when House Republican negotiators, including the majority leader, John Boehner, refused to attend a meeting called by Senate Republicans to settle a few remaining differences. Mr. Boehner and his followers avoided having to vote — and lose — on items that other negotiators wanted in the final bill.

Once they had scuttled the talks, House leaders acted unilaterally, presenting a new pension bill on Friday. They said the new bill contained the provisions that had previously been agreed upon. But that remains to be seen, since the 900-page tome was passed within hours. It will be up to the senators to vet the bill. If they see fit to amend it, the negotiations will have to start all over again.

The Senate has one week before its summer recess. As the senators struggle to produce decent legislation from the House’s sham bills, Americans will see the truth: their representatives in the House went on vacation without doing their job.
The turnaround by the Times is cynical looking to me. It looks to TFM as if they're afraid a minimum wage increase would look good for the Republicans come November. Why else suddenly oppose the increase? The millions who get helped far outnumber those benefiting from an estate tax change.

Then liberals pay the poor lip service. Like Labor Unions and others who attack Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart's low prices help the poor but the real issue isn't the poor but politics. The poor are just a tool to be used and discarded at any whim by them. Don Surber calls them pawns except I think the poor are used by both parties as such. Today's NYT editorial is just the latest example of it.

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