Congress argues Living Wage vs. Death Tax, but it ain’t about what’s good for the country that matters, it’s about what gets politicians re-elected.
August 4, 2006 — I received an invitation from Senator John McCain today to give my opinions on major issues of the times through his Straight Talk America program. As an outspoken political activist that tends to lean more to the left, I have no idea how I got on his mailing list, but I was happy just the same to respond. I was even quite happy to contribute the requested $15 to defray distribution and tabu- lation costs. I made my contribution, not as a PAC member, but simply as a concerned, supportive citizen who is impressed with this Senator’s emphasis on reforming the way business is done in Washington.
As I was filling out the questionnaire this evening, I got to thinking about the shameful way our lawmakers squander legislative opportunities, especially during an election year, arguing over partisan issues on which neither side will budge just to appease their constituents. The proposal for a Constitutional amendment to define marriage as being only between two persons of the opposite sex is an obvious example. Advocates always knew there was insufficient support for this with decent on both sides of the aisle. Dead-on-arrival bills like this are given floor and media attention at the expense of more critical problems such as immigration reform.
In what would seem to be a rare case of compromise on Capitol Hill, the House of Representatives voted last week to give some of the lowest-paid American workers in this country their first raise in nearly a decade, a decade in which politicians voted themselves pay increases ten times. But the bill they passed also included a big tax cut for some of the country’s wealthiest, cutting estate taxes, derided by Republicans as a “death tax,” and extending several other tax cuts popular among wealthy campaign contributors. The estimated cost to the government for these tax cuts, According to a Chicago Sun-Times news article, will be about $310 billion over 10 years.
There was a bitter debate leading up to an early-hour vote Saturday, the 29th of July, according to the Chicago Sun-Times article. The bill, which would raise the current $5.15-per-hour minimum wage in three 70-cent steps until reaching $7.25 in 2009, finally passed 230-180. But I personally doubt the bill will ever become law. House Democrats, as well as Republicans, know the minimum wage provision of the bill will never pass the Senate where the idea of wage increases face stiff opposition. Both sides, in my opinion, just wanted to look good to their constituents before leaving Washington to begin a five-week summer break that will give members time to campaign for re-election.
So, it’s business as usual…
Let me again raise to my readers’ attention, the only solution that seems to make good sense: Congressional term limits. For more information on this grass-roots initiative, visit Americans for Limited Government.
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