America to Congress: "So, about that raise we were promised..."

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As we've reported previously, the Senate and the House of Representatives have approved different bills that would increase the minimum wage by $2.10 over two years and offer tax breaks to business to "compensate" them for the added cost. The idea that businesses need to be "compensated" after they've received $276 billion in tax breaks since the last minimum wage hike (which was worth only about $13 billion to workers) is absurd. But both chambers have decided that some level of absurdity is acceptable if it helps get the minimum wage increase passed.

The problem is that the two chambers are in a spat over the details. The Senate's bill includes $8.3 billion in tax breaks over ten years for business while the House version only includes $1.3 billion over ten years. Both versions have provisions that raise revenues to offset the tax breaks. Predictably, many conservatives and business leaders have decried the offsets as "tax hikes" (since they apparently only support tax breaks that are not paid for). House Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-NY) went so far as to hold a hearing Wednesday on how bad the revenue-raising provisions are in the Senate version - and heard testimony only from representatives of business who opposed the "tax hikes" included in it. We would agree that the Senate version is frustratingly illogical, but not because of the revenue-raising provisions. The problem is the tax cuts. Businesses should not have to be bribed with $8.3 billion in tax cuts so that we can rescue the minimum wage from its lowest purchasing power in half a century.

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