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GannettUSA Today

Monday, July 31, 2006

Washington wheeling

Congress' propensity to combine proposals - often with vastly different constituencies - that may not pass on their own into one bill that members of the House and/or Senate can't turn down because of potential voter repercussions is a display of wheeling and dealing at its worst. It's just as bad as lading major spending bills with special-interest pork, a specialty in both Washington and Trenton.

The case in point is wedding a $2.10 an hour increase in the minimum wage over three years with a multibillion-dollar cut in the estate tax. The minimum wage bill would help 6.6 million people and is a favorite of liberals. The estate tax cut would help 8,000 already rich folks and had conservative support. The House passed the combined bill Saturday. Let's hope the Senate sees through the sham.

Legislation of such import should stand on its own. The bills already have had separate hearings; they should have separate floor debates and votes. The voters should know how their representatives stand - and vote - on key issues. And if it makes them work a little harder and face the music more often, that's what we're paying them $165,200 to do.


Anonymous Nick Fera said...

But the beauty of combining issues on a single bill, is that it forces compromise and consensus. I think these are important ingredients in keeping tyranny-of-the-majority at bay. Those liberals who wanted the minimum-wage increase, had to compromise on the estate-tax issue. Similarly, the conservatives had to compromise to get the estate tax issue. It seems to me that makes for good government, wherein one faction is not consistently left out.

4:48 PM, August 01, 2006  

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