$2.10 For Minimum Wage Workers, Billions for the Ultra-Rich
anyone ever doubted that the Republican Party is the party of the rich,
working tirelessly to make themselves richer off the labor of American
workers, those doubts were erased as Republicans moved into action in
the final days of the Congressional debate over the federal minimum
early hours of Saturday, July 29, just before adjourning for a five-week
recess, Republicans in the House of Representatives succeeded in their
move to hold minimum wage legislation hostage until House members agreed
to slash estate taxes for the ultra-rich.
House finally votes 230 to 180 for a bill that makes small increases in
the federal minimum wage but provides an estimated $268 billion in
estate tax breaks for the very wealthiest Americans, most of whom owe
their fortunes to inherited wealth.
a decade of no increase in the minimum wage, the bill requires American
workers to pay dearly for a raise that barely puts the minimum wage in
line with inflation.
bill would raise the minimum wage from the current $5.15 per hour to
$7.25 per hour by June 2009. But it would also allow employers to
count tips toward the minimum wage increase, reducing income for
hundreds of thousands of the food service industry workers who make up a
significant portion of minimum wage workers.
exchange for the minimum wage increase, the bill would fully exempt $5
million estates from taxes by 2015. Estates of up to $25 million
would be taxed at only 15 percent. Taxes on estates larger than
$25 million would also be reduced.
estate tax break will slice federal tax revenues, strip available
funding for social programs, increase the already dangerously high
federal deficit, and leave the ultra-rich richer than ever.
bill will now go before the Senate, where members will be forced to
choose between no minimum wage increase or one that is wed to a vast
reduction in taxes paid by multimillionaires.
message contained in the bill is clear: Republicans will give
American workers a crumb only if the ultra-rich receive another huge
slice of the cake.
bill passed by the House is even more disgraceful in light of new data
from the Commerce Department and the Bureau of Labor Statistics that
demonstrate that wages for all U.S. workers have deteriorated far more
than previous reports indicated.
July 28, the Commerce Department provided its annual revisions for U.S.
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employee compensation for 2003-2005.
The new revised data show that employee inflation adjusted compensation
rose only 2.3 percent from 2003 through 2005, not 2.9 percent as
grew just 1.8 percent from 2003-2005, significantly lower than the 2.2
percent reported earlier. Benefits rose at an annual rate of 4.9
percent from 2003-2005, also much lower than the original 6.0 percent
reported. If the wage increase is adjusted to account for growth
in the size and composition of the workforce, the wage increase is
addition, any real wage increase from 2003-2005 was wiped out by benefit
cuts and cost shifting from most employees, who saw larger health
insurance premium contributions deducted from their paychecks and higher
out-of-pocket cost for co-pays.
revised estimates from the Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic
Analysis reflect the results of the regular annual revision of the
national income and product accounts (NIPAs). These revisions,
made each July, incorporate newly available and more comprehensive
source data, as well as improved estimating methodologies.
revisions also found that for 2002-2005, real GDP grew at an average
annual rate of 3.2 percent, 0.3 percentage points less than in the
previously published estimates. The average annual rate of growth
of real GDP from the fourth quarter in 2002 to the first quarter in 2006
was 3.6 percent, 0.2 percentage points less than in the previously
of Labor Statistics data show that the wage increases for 2006 have been
completely erased by higher inflation. The Consumer Price Index is
rising at rates that will put inflation at 4.7 percent form 2006.
salary survey from Mercer Consulting reports that employers are planning
3.7 percent pay increases in 2007. Wage increases set at that
level will be wiped out by higher inflation and continue the now
long-term pattern of declining real wages in the United States.
Article taken from the LRA Online (News and Analysis from
the Labor Research Association)