Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Senate GOP blocks minimum wage hike

Whatever happened to all that GOP "up-or-down vote" rhetoric?

Senate Republicans kept Democrats from ending debate on a minimum wage increase. They blocked the bill, insisting that it could not move forward without tax breaks for businesses.

On a vote of 54-43, Democrats fell six short of the 60 needed to end debate and go to passage of a House-approved bill, to raise the minimum wage for the first time in a decade -- boosting it over two years to $7.25 per hour from $5.15.

Democratic leaders responded by adding $8 billion in tax breaks, and the Senate is expected to pass the bill next week. The measure adopted by the House included no tax breaks. The two chambers must agree on a final bill before it can become law.
You can't really fault the Republicans for opposing an increase in the minimum wage, or for insisting on new business tax breaks. That's who they are. They don't care much for people (the post-birth variety, any way), and they love tax cuts.

You can fault them, however, for rank hypocrisy. When the Democrats were in the minority, and attempted to filibuster legislation, they howled "UP-OR-DOWN VOTE" until their throats were raw. Democrats, to their shame, often capitulated, afraid of being called "obstructionist.

Now that the Republicans are in the minority, and have limited ability to influence the content of legislation, they are availing themselves of... you guessed it... the filibuster to keep bills they don't like from reaching the floor. They couldn't care less about the obstructionist label. They just don't want unpalatable legislation to pass, and they are willing to use any tool at their disposal to keep it from happening.

They're hypocrites, but they're playing by the rules. At the end of the day, it's the results that count.

If only the Democrats had taken this attitude when it came to some of the most disagreeable legislation (the bankruptcy bill comes to mind) and right-wing judges (Mr. Justice Alito and Chief Justice Roberts come to mind) that Bush and the GOP imposed on the American people. The days of Republican congressional rule might not have been quite so dark.