Friday, January 12, 2007

Conflict of interest

Democrats in the House had no trouble passing a bill that will hike the minimum wage, but Republics in the Senate insist that the measure must be paired with tax breaks for restaurants and other alleged small businesses. (Would McDonald's or Pizza Hut qualify for these breaks? Want to guess?) The Republics are even muttering about mounting a filibuster if they don't get their way.

This presents Democrats with a dilemma. The Republics' demand for tax breaks has long since lost political steam; at this point it is only a payoff for their supporters. So Democrats have every expectation that if they stand fast the Republics will either fail in their threatened obstruction or, if they succeed, will present a luscious political target.

On one hand, Republic obstruction against popular items like the minimum wage increases the chances of an increased Democratic congressional majority in 2008, and even of a Democratic president. But raising the minimum wage now will have important effects for some of our most vulnerable citizens. Are Democrats justified in losing an opportunity to help those individuals in the hope of greater political advantage, even with the greater benefits for ordinary Americans that we may expect to flow from Democratic control of the levers of government?

What's your opinion?

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