Monday, August 07, 2006

POLITICS - GOP (Greedy Old Party) Minimum Wage Poison-Pill Trick

"House GOP teases the poorest workers" editorial, The Roanoke Times

It being an election year, politicians are playing politics. Yet the minimum wage bill passed by House Republicans last week is craven even by those standards.

The minimum wage has stagnated at a pitiful $5.15 per hour for a decade. At that rate, a full-time worker earns $10,700 in a year, barely a third of the $30,000 that the Economic Policy Institute figures a single parent needs to get by in Roanoke, for example.

The conventional wisdom is that minimum wage workers are mostly teens, but according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, only a quarter of minimum-wage workers are under 20.

An overwhelming majority of Americans agree with Democrats that an increase is past due. House Republicans, not wanting to face that furor with so many other issues energizing the electorate, therefore passed a ludicrous wage bill hoping for political cover in November.

The bill would increase the minimum wage to $7.25 per hour over three years, but at a ridiculously high price.

If Americans want better pay for the poorest workers, they must reward the nation’s wealthiest heirs by trimming inheritance taxes. The children of Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart, would get millions. A single-mother tending tables at a chain eatery would get $2.10 an hour.

At least she would in Virginia. In some states, minimum wage workers who earn tips will actually receive a pay cut.

Under existing federal policy, restaurateurs may pay their servers less than the minimum because tips make up the difference.

Seven states, however, have outlawed that practice because customers leave tips not as part of the base salary but to augment it as reward for good service.

Note that the "the conventional wisdom" mentioned above is a GOP idea. I don't think those of us who live in the real world ever believed this lie. We have minimum wage neighbors, whole families, who live off minimum wage jobs and are not teenagers; not to mention college students trying to meet college costs.

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