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The Cynical Politics of the Minimum Wage

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It's no surprise that the Republicans are playing poison-pill politics, passing an increase in the federal minimum wage but yoking it to a permanent repeal of the Paris Hilton tax.

On the face of it, this looks like bad news for congressional Democrats. They now face the unwelcome task of voting down a minimum wage hike, one that they've fought for for a decade, in order to block the GOP's latest anti-tax insanity.

But the reality is that strategically, cynically, House and Senate Democrats may not really want to pass a federal minimum wage increase — at least not before November.

After all, the party is counting on state minimum-wage ballot measures in Ohio, Montana, Arkansas, Michigan, Nevada, Colorado, and Arizona among other states to goose Democratic turnout just like the anti-gay marriage proposals on the state ballots in 2004 did for Republican turnout.

If the federal wage is upped, the urgency behind those measures disappears, and so do many of the desperate voters the Dems are counting on to return them to power.

Nasty, ugly stuff.

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