Minimum-wage accord faces maximum challenge

Sen. Edward Kennedy at a news conference on the minimum wage, Jan. 30, 2007

KAI RYSSDAL: Congressman Murtha's committee wasn't the only one that was busy today. The House tax-writing committee released a $1.2 billion package of tax cuts for small business. The House is trying to find some common ground with the Senate on an increase to the minimum wage. But whatever common ground there is, is proving shaky. Steve Tripoli at the Marketplace Entrepreneurship Desk has more.


STEVE TRIPOLI: The Senate wants 8 billion in small-business tax cuts. House Ways and Means chief Charlie Rangel had a tart response to that plan. He told reporters: "When you start with $8 billion, my hearing aid is off."

That doesn't mean the House proposal is a shot across the Senate's, or even the Republicans' bow. In fact, ranking Ways and Means Republican Jim McCrery unveiled the House package with Rangel. And he defends Rangel's take on the Senate plan.
JIM McCRERY: He thought there was too much in there, and some of the tax breaks in the Senate package did not go to small businesses. So we tailored our package to target those small businesses who are gonna be most affected by the minimum-wage increase.

Still, the House plan acknowledges certain realities. The main one being that the minimum-wage hike may not fly without some tax breaks. The dueling plans will likely end up in a House-Senate conference. McCrery has a prediction about the outcome.

McCRERY: The final number will probably be somewhere between the House and the Senate.

No surprise there. Or at least not as big a surprise as this apparent outbreak of Congressional . . . bipartisanship?

I'm Steve Tripoli for Marketplace.

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