Do you remember the Biblical story about King Solomon and the two women who claimed the same infant as theirs? One of the mothers had tragically lost her own baby and each woman was claiming that the surviving child was hers.
The women were brought before King Solomon, who was reputed to be the wisest leader in the ancient world, and he had to judge which one of these women was truly the infant’s mother. It was a custody case that would have daunted a lesser judge.
King Solomon ordered a guard to divide the baby in half and give one half to each woman. One of the claimants agreed that that was a fair decision. But the other cried out to stop it saying, “No, give her the child but spare its life.”
Solomon, of course, gave the baby to that woman declaring that she was the child’s real mother. Her love for her child was stronger than her desire for custody. All she wanted was her baby’s welfare regardless of her personal sacrifice.
While it’s hardly as dramatic, there’s a situation going on in Congress that reminded me of that story. Maybe it’s a stretch, but I often see weird connections that others don’t. Anyway, here’s the story.
Republican leaders in the House have cobbled together a bill that would raise the minimum wage to $7.25, which is what the Democrats and the AFL-CIO have wanted and Republican business lobbyists have opposed. They’ve claimed that any rise in the minimum wage would only lead to small businesses having to lay off workers because they couldn’t afford the additional salary expense. Certainly the US Chamber of Commerce and many other business trade groups have stridently maintained that claim during the entire nine years that the minimum wage has remained at $5.15 an hour.
But those clever Republicans have linked the raise in the minimum wage to a bunch of tax cuts that would benefit the wealth. Surprise, surprise!
Included in this trifecta, as the Republican lawmakers themselves have dubbed it, is a permanent cut in Estate Tax and a series of narrowly targeted tax cuts to businesses and wealthy individuals. Now the same business lobbying groups that have been opposing the minimum wage, including the National Federation of Independent Businesses, a small business lobbying group; the National Association of Manufacturers; the National Association of Wholesalers-Distributors; and the Tax Relief Coalition are tripping over each other to be the first to endorse it. Leading the way, the U.S. Chamber admitted that tax cuts, which benefit their wealthiest members, are more important than stopping the minimum wage.
Meanwhile, the Democrats and their allies in organized labor are opposed to this trifecta bill because they know that now is not the time for even more tax cuts for greedy rich people. They recognize that any bill that will lower federal tax revenues by $268 billion over the next decade on top of the already record deficits would be injurious to poor people. Shrinking tax revenues will almost certainly force draconian cuts in economic and social programs such as food stamps and Medicaid that lower income people depend upon, causing them more harm than benefit despite a wage hike.
Because our deficit is already so large, there probably will have to cuts to social programs some day anyway, but this shell game will only make them even deeper. So, the very people the Republicans say they want to help will actually be hurt far more by this scheme that does nothing more than line the pockets of the richest and greediest traitors in America.
By the way, rich and greedy are not necessarily synonymous. There are lots of wealthy people who are opposed to cutting the Estate Tax and who are earnest, responsible citizens that care about the fiscal health of this country.
But there is a very small minority of very wealthy people who have already plundered our Treasury. They don’t care about the costs of the war in Iraq, from which their businesses are benefiting through lucrative contracts. They don’t care about families that have to raise money for their sons and daughters to buy body armor because the Pentagon says that it can’t afford to supply the troops with lifesaving equipment. And they certainly don’t care about the children of the working poor who have no health insurance and would go hungry without food stamps. In fact much like that woman who lied and claimed the baby in King Solomon's day, they care more about their selfish desires than about the well-being of their fellow human beings.
Ironically, it's the working people of this country who care about the nation's fiscal health. Who care about America. They're the ones willing to forego the raise rather than see this travesty that would shrink tax revenues and balloon the deficit.
Who cares more about America. It's not the Chamber of Commerce and it's not the business lobbyists who have only contributed to a culture of corruption on Capitol Hill.