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Democrats Push More Aggressive Minimum Wage Plan, Use Taxes as Lure

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call
Harkin is introducing legislation to increase the minimum wage from the current rate of $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour. The bill goes beyond what the president has called for.

In the House, Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, who supported the 2007 minimum wage increase, said he intends to move small-business incentives in a tax overhaul and not in a minimum wage measure.

“I supported that last package with small-business reform,” the Michigan Republican said. “But this is a different issue now because we want to do a comprehensive reform now.”

Still, supporters of the Harkin bill, and a draft companion in the House, sponsored by Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., say they believe the minimum wage could attract bipartisan support. And they contend the measure would spur growth by giving workers more money to spend.

“I care about wages. These wages would go right back into the economy,” Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., said.

Rep. Sander M. Levin of Michigan, ranking member on Ways and Means, said he and other Democrats were hunting for Republican allies who could help to push the minimum wage increase. “There are some Republicans who would vote for it on its own,” Levin said.

But for now, a number of Republicans, including Sen. Richard C. Shelby of Alabama, ranking member on Appropriations, are vowing to oppose the measure.

“That costs jobs. ... It interferes with marketplace,” Shelby said.

“I am open to an increase up to the level that Maine has,” said Susan Collins of Maine, which has a $7.50 state minimum wage. “I think we have to be very careful that we don’t end up hurting the very people that the minimum wage increase is intended to help.”

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