February 7, 2007
Last Week in Congress
By James Wilson
It's funny, in a way. The United States Senate turned a simple, 4-page bill into a complicated 124-page behemoth. Isn't that just how Congress works! But we must pause for a moment. The bill in question is H.R. 2, the mis-named Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007 which we are campaigning against. There are many reasons to oppose the bill, and one of them is that it is the equivalent of a tax increase on small business, in that the government forces employers of minimum wage workers to increase their expenses with no offsetting benefit. The House passed H.R. 2 three weeks ago. Last week, the Senate added 120 pages to “improve” it by giving small business some complicated tax and regulatory breaks to offset their costs from the minimum wage increase. We applaud the sentiment, but these should be treated as different issues: - the minimum wage increase should be defeated; indeed, the federal minimum wage should be abolished. - other regulations that stifle enterprise and punish small business should be abolished as well. - taxes should be cut and the tax code should be simplified. - bills should be short and simple enough for members of Congress to have time to read and understand. That said, perhaps the Senate's tinkering with H.R. 2 made it a little less bad. Best of all, it likely made it harder for the House and Senate to agree on a final version. Aside from this, the Senate was again fairly quiet. The Senate did pass the 4-page H.R. 434, which the House passed a couple of weeks ago. This bill would “provide for an additional temporary extension of programs under the Small Business Act and the Small Business Investment Act of 1958 through December 31, 2007, and for other purposes.” As we said when the House passed it, “Congress should someday realize that the best way to “help” small business is to de-regulate them, cut their taxes, and otherwise leave them alone.” The House passed three acts naming post office buildings, and the 138-page H.J. Res. 20, the Revised Continuing Appropriations Resolution, 2007. This would authorize spending for most domestic departments and agencies for the rest of fiscal year of 2007. This actually isn't as bad as it sounds. Because Congress didn't agree on a budget in time, funding for these departments will continue at last years levels. Certainly beats budget increases! publishes this feature on weeks when Congress is in session. To see how your represenatives voted on particular bills, or to read the bills themselves, go here for the House and here for the Senate. You may also keep abreast of day-to-day activities in Congress by going to the Congressional Record Main Page and click for recent issues of the Daily Digest.
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