Wage against the machine
The United States Senate – new and improved, with 2% fewer stingy, rich, white pricks - passed a bill to increase the minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 per hour. But unlike the House bill, which was as pure and simple as the smile on a part-time Wal-Mart greeter's face, the Senate bill came with an unsightly blemish: $8.3 billion in tax cuts for business. Because hey, we couldn't give the workers a boost without greasing the palms of those who funds the campaigns, right?
Now, the House and Senate must reconcile the two bills, in what is sure to be an arm-twisting negotiation of near-Aaron Sorkin proportions. Complicating matters is a constitutional precedent that mandates that all American legislation be so convoluted that robber barons come out with the biggest piece of the pie. By the time it's done, the measure might well include new seat warmers for all corporate jets.
Whatever the outcome, both chambers agree on the basics of the wage increase, and President Bush has said he'll sign it. Assuming Congress doesn't completely blow it, minimum wage workers will see their pay rise, starting 60 days after the president signs the bill into law. But if you're a minimum-wage worker, don't rush out and buy that new Lexus yet. The wage will increase in 70-cent increments over the next two years.