H.R.2 - Minimum Wage Bill Frustrations

Date 2007/1/31 5:09:43 | Topic: Links, Thoughts, and Open Thread

OK, I'm beat. I've had enough. I've tried and tried to read and understand the current amendments to H.R.2, the FAIR MINIMUM WAGE ACT OF 2007. I at first approached it cynically, looking for the so-called "small business" measures to see if they were a trojan horse. I waded through the pages and pages of S.AMDT.100 and S.AMDT.101 (By the Democrats, and by the Republicans, respectively)

Honestly though, after finally reading the history and language of the amendments, and trying to follow it all, I'm damn disappointed with both the Democrats and the Republicans in the Senate for not having the discipline to keep this a clean bill.

The House of Representatives, with its 435 members was able to pass a Minimum wage bill (with no help from our local Congressman Burgess) and keep it clean.

Literally on the day that the bill was introduced into the Senate, Harry Reid introduced S.AMDT.100, and Mitch McConnell introduced S.AMDT 101, one after the other.

Let me try to put this in perspective for you. H.R.2, as passed by the House, is ONE DAMN PAGE. These amendments are HUNDREDS OF PAGES.

Don't get me wrong here, I read some of the stuff in these amendments, and the tax provisions (that I could understand) really do seem to target small businesses. As a small business owner myself, I could understand some of the language, and I could see how some of the proposals could help simplify and reduce the tax burden. Other stuff - well, just read this excerpt and see if you can follow:
(c) Clarification of Treatment of Individuals Under Individual Work Plans.--Subparagraph (B) of section 51(d)(6) (relating to vocational rehabilitation referral) is amended by striking ``or'' at the end of clause (i), by striking the period at the end of clause (ii) and inserting ``, or'', and by adding at the end the following new clause:

``(iii) an individual work plan developed and implemented by an employment network pursuant to subsection (g) of section 1148 of the Social Security Act with respect to which the requirements of such subsection are met.''.
WTF?

In addition, ostensibly for the purposes of controlling earmark spending, the Senate has introduced an "Expedited recision" process, which is basically a really complicated and convoluted way of transferring appropriations power from Congress to the President in the form of a line-item veto.

I could argue both for and against a line-item veto, depending on how it's set up, but this one is just awful. It basically gives the president authority to cut things that are not earmarks, and wait up to a year to do it, and cut them for up to 45 days while Congress reconsiders the line. But I digress...

My main point is DISCIPLINE. We can only solve one damn problem at a time. All of these proposals deserve debate in the Senate and the house, but the time for increasing the minimum wage is NOW - no, it's years ago. The bills should have been seperate so that the people who need this raise can get it. If Congress had discipline, there would be no need for a line-item veto.

So now we've got, if I understand it correctly, 60 hours of debate on amendments 101 and 102 due to cloture rules, and no more amendments can be introduced 24 hours after the cloture was passed. (I had c-span on all afternoon, and if they passed cloture, I didn't hear it, but I heard Reid saying something about it in a later press conference)

So what's going to happen is that this bill is going to pass, if Republicans play nice and don't stick too many poison pills in it. Then it will go to Conference and come back to both houses. Some of the measures may go down in Conference.

What's being lost in all this too, is that the Senate cannot take up debate on the Iraq war escalation until this is done. The president is sending and has sent more troops already, and Congress can't get its sh** together to even put a temporary hold on it.

I urge that both sides PLEASE, for the love of God, vote down amendments 100 and 101, and pass H.R.2 *AS INTRODUCED* with NO AMENDMENTS.

Submit another bill for the other stuff. I would urge Harry Reid to make a deal to allow the other stuff to see light later and get fair debate when there are less pressing matters.

Of course, nobody cares what I think. They'll just do what they're going to do. I've taken my sleep medication for the night, and they're kicking in now. G'night... :(


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