Friday, May 25, 2007

Sausage Making

After a good night's rest, I am slightly less depressed over the passage of an Iraq War funding bill that did not contain a time table for withdrawal of US troops, but just slightly. Still, I did manage to find enough energy to look into what else that funding bill contained, and it wasn't a complete disaster. Among the provisions was the hike in the minimum wage. From today's NY Times:

By a vote of 348 to 73, the House approved the measure as part of a deal on Iraq spending. Less than two hours later, the wage increase was approved in the Senate, where it was combined with a bill providing more money for the Iraq war. That vote was 80 to 14.

The measure would raise the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour from $5.15 in three stages over two years. The bill includes $4.84 billion in tax breaks for small businesses. They have made a case, supported by Republicans and the White House, that the wage increase would be a burden for them.

The raise in the minimum wage was way over-due. The last hike was ten years ago, under President Clinton's tenure. By my calculations, that means that when the new law is fully implemented, full time workers will now be able to earn $15,600 per year. That certainly doesn't keep a family of three out of the poverty level, but at least it provides a national floor on wages.

The bill had some other goodies in it as well. Airlines get to dick around with their pension plans, which ought to make Wall Street happy. Oh, and somebody remembered the Gulf Coast:

The bill includes $6.3 billion more for areas damaged by Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma, $600 million for health insurance for children in low-income families and $3 billion for aid in farm disasters.

Ironically, it was a Republican who complained about the inclusion of these provisions in the bill, ironic because the GOP slipped in those kinds of "add-ons" on a regular basis in the 109th Congress, often in the dead of night, so that the congress critters could never be certain just what a bill they were voting on contained. Here's yesterday's complaint:

Representative John A. Boehner, Republican of Ohio and the House minority leader, criticized the wage provision along with a set of domestic spending measures attached to what was viewed as “must pass legislation.”

“We’ve got a host of issues that don’t deserve to be put on the backs of the military,” Mr. Boehner said. “It’s a sneaky way to do business.”

Why, yes. Yes, it is. If the President doesn't like those provisions (although their inclusion was undoubtedly part of the negotiations with the White House), he can always veto the bill, right? At least the Democrats let the Republicans know about those provisions, something the last Congress wasn't too good about.

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Blogger Nancy Willing said...

A little bit cheerier this morning, eh?

John Boehner was crying yesterday on the teevee. Not a simple sob, either, a continued wimpering, slumped-over, full-out playground drama about the troops, I think, I didn't catch much of it.

4:41 AM  

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