Minimum Wage and Estate Tax Go Down Together
A bill that would have increased the national minimum wage and repeal portions of the estate tax (AKA the death tax) never made it to a vote in the Senate as Democrats and a couple of Republicans voted against ending debate on the measure.
Opponents said the bill proposal was disingenuous as Republican sponsors sought to gain another tax break for the wealthiest of Americans while making it appear as though lower income citizens were benefiting.
Gerald W. McEntee, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), told The Washington Post, “This was a transparent attempt to dangle a minimum-wage increase for families struggling to make ends meet to secure yet another Texas-size tax handout for the wealthiest.”
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said, “8,100 of the wealthy and well-off hit the jackpot, while millions of working families get $800 billion in [federal] debt.”
Democrats such as Sen. Reid are generally in favor of raising the minimum wage while against repealing the estate tax. Conversely, most Republicans favor repealing the estate tax but are against any mandated change in the minimum wage.
Sen. John Sununu (R-N.H.) said polls show voters want an increase in the minimum wage and also want to do away with the “death tax.” Voting against allowing the measure to go for a simple yay/nay vote “is bad for the country, and bad politics, too.” The Senator said, “I certainly wouldn’t want to vote against this bill.”
Discussion Question: Would passage of the bill proposed by the Republican majority have been good or bad for the retail and foodservice industries?
The retail and foodservice industries have generally supported repeal of the estate tax while lobbying against any increase in the minimum wage.
It should be noted that the bill introduced would not have resulted in a total repeal of the estate tax. According to The Washington Post, “estates
worth as much as $5 million ($10 million for a married couple) would have been exempt. Estates worth between $10 million and $25 million would have been taxed at 15 percent tax
while those above $25 million would have been taxed at 30 percent.
The most notable exception on the minimum wage issue has been Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott who has called on the federal government to make an increase to help
lower-income consumers deal with rising costs.