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Saturday, September 02, 2006

At a Minimum

Will Republicans bring up minimum wage legislation once again?

Grappling Over Minimum Wage Builds as Republicans Disagree, by Sarah Lueck, WSJ: As Congress returns to work after Labor Day, Republicans face a burning question: whether to try again to pass a minimum-wage increase, or risk facing voters in November without having done so.

Some Republican lawmakers, particularly those facing tough re-election fights, want another chance to back an increase.., a move that would deprive Democrats of a major campaign talking point. "After 10 years, good grief, it's not like we're increasing it in a way that would cause unemployment," says Rep. Chris Shays, a Connecticut Republican locked in a close race. "I think it should be passed under our watch."

But other Republicans hate the idea and are unlikely to support such a move or would do so only with big sweeteners for their business base. The House passed a minimum-wage increase in July, but the measure failed in the Senate because it was paired with a cut in the estate tax... Many legislators argue that vote should be enough, at least politically, to show voters they tried.

House Republican leaders are cool to taking up the minimum-wage issue again. So far, they say they plan this month to focus on national-security matters. ... "Our members had a vote on minimum wage. We passed it," Ron Bonjean, a spokesman for Mr. Hastert, said, "The Senate prospects of getting it done are much more difficult." ...

Democrats say the argument that the House did pass a wage increase has little traction with voters, and charge that many Republicans voted for the boost only because it was paired with a tax cut for wealthy people. "It becomes a doubly damning story," Democratic pollster Geoff Garin says, "Not only did they fail to do the right thing on the minimum wage, but it confirms this view of the current Congress as being only about political games and not about helping people's lives." ...

Senate Democrats may decide to raise the issue when the chamber considers a spending bill that includes a pay raise for lawmakers. Democrats have been slamming Republican incumbents for raising their own pay, while failing to do so for workers who make the minimum wage. ...

    Posted by on Saturday, September 2, 2006 at 02:45 AM in Economics, Policy, Politics | Permalink  TrackBack (0)  Comments (1)

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