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Minimum Wage Bill Falls Four Votes Short in Senate

Last night, Democrats in the Senate were successful in blocking the minimum wage-estate tax break bill from coming to a full vote in the Senate. Republicans had tied a $2.10 minimum wage increase over three years to a permanent decrease in the estate tax and a tax break package that would have given bonus tax cuts averaging $1.3 million to the 8,000+ richest estates in the country. The bill fell four votes short of the necessary 60 to end debate and move to a full Senate vote, where it only would have needed to pass by a simple majority.

“The bill was a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” said Alice Cohan, political director of the Feminist Majority. “The Republicans are trying to pass a tax give-away to the wealthy as a trade for barely increasing the minimum wage.”

One of the contentious provisions of the three-part bill was the minimum wage provision’s potential to hurt tip-earning workers. Currently, most states allow businesses where workers earn tips to pay as little at $2.13 an hour, provided that workers’ tips put them above the minimum wage. Seven states have laws that override this wage and force these businesses to provide a higher wage. Experts believe that the wording of the minimum wage increase provision would have provided a loophole for businesses to stop paying this higher wage, costing these workers up to $5.50 an hour in lost wages.

Said Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, who led the opposition, under the bill, “8,100 of the wealthy and well-off hit the jackpot, while millions of working families get $800 billion in [federal] debt,” according to the Washington Post.

Sources:

Washington Post 8/4/06; New York Times 8/4/06; San Francisco Gate 8/4/06; Associated Press 8/4/06