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Friday, 04 August 2006 07:22

Frist and Friends Utterly Shameless on Minimum Wage

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All but a few Senate Democrats showed some backbone and voted against the Republicans' ludicrous bill that combined a raise in the minimum wage with a significant cut in the estate tax. BuzzFlash has blasted the maneuver as a transparent political attempt to try to undermine Democrats before the election (Nine Resons to Hate te Minimum Wage/Estate Tax Bill - And the People That Don't, 8/2).

While some bloggers are calling the vote a failure for Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN), our take is that the entire bill was a sham to start with. In short, they knew all along that it would never pass. The House and Senate votes allow Republicans to say that Democrats voted against a higher minimum wage while they were for it, even though it's the last thing they actually want. It also gives them a chance to appease their fat cat supporters because they can claim to have tried to let them continue to hoard their millions.

Republicans knew that they would never get away with the $268 billion tax cut on its own, and they are hoping that misleading headlines like "Senate blocks minimum wage rise" will confuse the average voters into actually supporting this scam. The bill was just another chapter of the Do-Nothing Republican Congress. This isn't the first time that they have forced votes they knew would fail just to posture for the elections. Remember the proposed amendments against gay marriage and flag burning? Republicans have simply been arming themselves for campaigning during the five-week vacation they are taking after just 80 days of work this year while many important bills sit idle.

The truth is that the Republican leadership is utterly shameless. After the vote failed, Frist claimed to be "deeply ashamed" of his colleagues, who he said "don't care about America's economic security." But most folks in Congress don't mind working together when given the chance. Less than an hour after the defeat, Frist unabashedly flip-flopped and praised the Senate for voting 93-5 to pass a bipartisan pension bill designed to strengthen, yes, America's economic security, even though it contained some controversial provisions.

Frist said the issues in the minimum wage/estate tax all matter to "hardworking . . . every day Americans." While it is beyond us how the average Joe is affected by an estate tax curtailment other than seeing his own taxes go up to pay for it, Frist's actions reveal his hypocrisy. He could have tried to compromise on each issue to find common ground, but instead chose to disallow any changes and is refusing to consider either issue without the other. The millions of people desperately seeking to get a more livable wage are now completely out of luck indefinitely.

Maybe his indifference is because, while the Frist family is certainly concerned with one of the issues more than the other, there is evidence suggesting they have been using loopholes to avoid the estate tax anyway.