The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Friday, August 04, 2006

Senate nixes minimum wage/estate tax bill. For now.

House Republicans tried to put Democrats in a tought spot by making an increase in minimum wage contingent upon a reduction in the estate tax. If Democrats opposed the bill, Republicans would ostensibly claim that they were against a minimum wage increase, and if they supported it we'd be looking at more tax cuts for a small number of the wealthiest Americans.

But the bill, voted on yesterday in the Republican-controlled senate, couldn't draw a simple majority. But in keeping with the voodoo economics of the GOP, it's likely to rise from the grave before the elections.

A bill combining an estate tax cut with a boost in the federal minimum wage, an election-year combination engineered by Republicans, may see another vote this fall.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., told senators who voted against the bill to "rethink long and hard" during the four-week recess that began late early Friday. Congress reconvenes in September.

Frist also reiterated that the GOP will not split the minimum wage apart from the estate tax, and that future votes on the pay increase will be linked to cutting taxes on multimillion-dollar estates.

"These issues must be addressed as a package, all or nothing," he said.

The Senate late Thursday rejected, 56-42, a bill fusing the cut in estate taxes with a $2.10 increase over three years in the $5.15 minimum wage. The bill also would have revived a host of expired tax cuts, including a business research and development credit and deductions for state sales taxes, college tuition and teachers' classroom supplies.

Republicans needed 60 votes to advance the measure, which passed the House last Saturday.

For Republicans, the combination could have diluted a campaign issue for Democrats who say the GOP has prevented an increase in the minimum wage for nearly a decade. It simultaneously would have advanced the estate tax, which may have an uncertain future if the Republicans lose seats in the November elections.