EDITORIAL: Poison pills

Does the hard working woman refilling your coffee cup at the lunch counter look like she deserves a pay cut? That could be the outcome if the minimum wage bill, passed in the dead of the night by the House of Representatives, makes it past the Senate. The bill also provides for a dramatic cut in the estate tax for multimillionaires. These “poison pills” in the minimum wage legislation are the price Republican lawmakers are demanding in exchange for a modest increase in the federal minimum from the current $5.15 to $7.25 an hour.

Just hours before the middle-of-the-night vote, Rep. Zach Wamp (R-Tenn.) took to the House floor to brag to minimum wage supporters that “you have really seen us outfox you on this issue tonight.”

The tip provision in the law would affect workers in seven states where current state law doesn’t allow employers to count tips workers receive toward their minimum pay. The House bill would override that prohibition and institute a $2.13 minimum wage for workers who receive tips. In Washington state, for example, waitresses, bartenders or hairdressers who now earn the state’s minimum of $7.63 would take a $5.50 pay cut.

The bill “is the first time in history that the federal government has acted to put a ceiling on minimum wage levels, rather than establishing a national floor from which the states can make improvement,” said Ross Eisenbrey, vice president of the Economic Policy Institute.

By an 80 percent margin, the American people support raising the minimum wage. Did the bosses’ representatives really “outfox” the people on this one? November can’t come soon enough.