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Wages, war and politics

Marketplace Staff May 23, 2007

Wages, war and politics

Marketplace Staff May 23, 2007


KAI RYSSDAL: Remember the minimum wage increase — the one that was passed by both the House and the Senate, and then never went anywhere?

 Well, it's going somewhere after all. Right into the Iraq war funding bill that's probably going to pass. But that in turn is putting some of the more liberal members of the Democratic party in a bind. Because now, if they want to raise the minimum wage, they're going to have to vote for the war.        Jeremy Hobson reports from Washington.

JEREMY HOBSON: Democrats had to give up timetables for troop withdrawal in the agreement reached yesterday on the war supplemental. But they did get $17 billion in domestic spending — and the first minimum wage increase in 10 years, from $5.15 an hour to $7.25.

That wasn’t a good enough trade for liberal Democrat Dennis Kucinich, who called it “minimum wage for maximum blood.”

Faiz Shakir, at the Center for American Progress, agrees.

FAIZ SHAKIR: I don’t think that it’s right, at this stage, for anybody on the left who’s been opposed to the current course in Iraq to say that this is somehow a victory.

Indeed, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has said she’s not even sure she’ll vote for the war funding. But does this mean key Democrats will be voting against minimum wage?

In the house, they’ve got an out. They’ll vote on two separate amendments — one on war funding, where they can vote no if so inclined, one on domestic spending and the minimum wage.

Thomas Mann is with the Brookings Institution.

THOMAS MANN: This gives them an opportunity to demonstrate how they feel about each part of it, and that’s what members are looking for.

Democrats in the Senate won’t have it so easy. It will be an up or down vote on the entire package. Domestic spending and war spending all in one.

Norm Ornstein at the American Enterprise Institute says law makers often find themselves in these sticky situations.

NORM ORNSTEIN: You probably are voting for something even, though you don’t like a part of it, but then being stuck with the part of it you don’t like.

The house could vote as early as tomorrow. The Senate plans to get it done before the Memorial Day break.

In Washington, I’m Jeremy Hobson for Marketplace.

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