Let them have their tartar sauce
How's that for a trade-off?
I wrote last week about efforts by House Republicans to tie a minimum wage increase to inheritance tax cuts for the wealthy. (The Senate had previously refused to support a minimum wage increase on its own.) The House approved the measure last Saturday.
As Joe Gandelman reported yesterday at The Moderate Voice, Senate Democrats on Thursday narrowly blocked an effort in the Senate to pass this legislation. As the Times put it:
Republican backers of the measure, dubbed the trifecta for its three chief elements, fell 4 votes short of the 60 needed to cut off debate. Democrats had argued that it was a bad bargain to exchange a $2.10 wage increase for struggling workers for a costly tax cut for the country’s wealthiest families.
Republicans were thus denied -- rightly, justly -- "a legislative victory as lawmakers head into a crucial month of campaigning before the November elections".
Republicans were engaging in a two-front campaign to reward their wealthy supporters and donors (and to please the anti-tax ideologues in their ranks) while making it seems as if they care about the plight of America's working poor. They will no doubt emphasize the second part of that campaign heading into November, charging that Democrats blocked their entirely sincere efforts to increase the minimum wage. What they won't tell voters is that they have consistently opposed an increase to the minimum wage -- which is why there hasn't been one in almost ten years.
E.J. Dionne, as usual, gets it right in the Post:
The most obvious, outrageous and unprincipled spasm occurred last night when the Senate voted on a bill that would have simultaneously raised the minimum wage and slashed taxes on inherited wealth.
Rarely has our system produced a more naked exercise in opportunism than this measure. Most conservatives oppose the minimum wage on principle as a form of government meddling in the marketplace. But moderate Republicans in jeopardy this fall desperately wanted an increase in the minimum wage.
So the seemingly ingenious Republican leadership, which dearly wants deep cuts in the estate tax, proposed offering nickels and dimes to the working class to secure billions for the rich. Fortunately, though not surprisingly, the bill failed.
Conservatism may or may not be finished -- the specific question addressed by Dionne -- but it's quite clear (and has been for a long time) that the Republican Party has succumbed to an ideology of unmitigated greed, an ideology promoted by many of the conservative interests that support and sustain it. When necessary, as it is this year, with the prospect of defeat looming on the horizon, it will pander to the working poor -- usually on wedge-issue "values" like race, same-sex marriage, and abortion, but occasionally, as here, by throwing them a few scraps off the trickle-down pile.
It has rarely been this transparent. It has rarely been this disgusting.
This whole sordid episide has provided us with a glimpse into the soul of the Republican Party. Do you like what you see?