Shameless (Minimum Wage)

The House of Representatives was busy yesterday engaging in vicious class warfare against working families.

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BREAKING: Open Your Window and Yell: Raise the Minimum Wage!

Breaking: Republicans have blocked the vote on the minimum wage. This diary reflects earlier optimism about the debate.

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An increase in the minimum wage is once again hovering around the Congressional docket, as Democrats try to wedge it into various bills while Republicans try to sink it.

And once again, as reliable as clockwork, defenders and opponents are snapping into action, dusting off briefs and arguments, updating the analysis for inflation and generally doing the same dance we always do (I'm a defender).


There's got to be a better way.

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Set a spell, Congress. we've got a couple things to chat about...

This past week, much to everyone's surprise, Democrats in the House of Representatives managed to slip a proposal to increase the minimum wage into a bill funding the Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services.

Faced with the specter of having to vote against increasing the wage floor from its current embarrassing level of $5.15 to $7.25 by Jan. 1, 2009, Congressional Republicans snapped into action and pulled the bill.

This is what these brave souls do in election season when they don't want to have to go back to their districts and answer questions as to why it's ok to cut hundreds of billions in rich people's taxes but deny the working poor a boost.

Well, I say: "Not so fast, guys.  Let's chat about this for a few minutes."

Not let me get this straight.  Last month, you passed $70 billion worth of new tax cuts, mostly by extending earlier Bush cuts on dividends and capital gains.  When tax cuts target investment income, the benefits flow to the wealthy, and these cuts are exhibit A: they reduce millionaire's tax payments by $43,000, and those of middle-income families by $20.  Sorry, that's not a typo.  It's what you get when you put the YOYOs in charge of fiscal policy.

Wait a second, where you going?  I'm not done.  Set a spell...

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The Economist Behind the Curtain

The recent failure in the Senate to repeal the estate tax stands as a rare victory for sane fiscal policy.  The NYT editorialized about the event under the heading "What Passes for Good News."

In fact, the Senate vote came alarming close to ending a tax on inheritances of the richest half-a-percent of households, with a majority of Senators (57--but they needed 60 for a repeal) supporting a measure which would have cost the treasury $800 billion over 10 years at a time of ballooning budget deficits and war.

Of course, the politics of the repeal were the focus of most analyses--would the White House be adhered to or get rebuffed on an issue dear to them--but the economics of the tax cut are deeply revealing of the fundamental flaw of economic policy today.

And that flaw is this: we have, over the past three decades, shifted from we're-in-this-together (WITT) economics to you're-on-your-own (YOYO) economics.

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Gay Marriage Ploy: Classic YOYO Fumble

With their focus solidly on the gay marriage amendment and estate tax repeal, the conservative movement is busy rearranging deck chairs on...well, not quite the Titanic, but on a rotting ship of state.

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