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Office of the Vice President

For Immediate Release March 9, 2000


Today, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives had an opportunity to help working families by voting to increase the minimum wage by $1 dollar over two years. Instead, the Republican leadership offered a bill that would force hard working Americans to wait three years instead of two for the increase to reach one dollar. I believe that minimum wage workers deserve to get a decent wage as quickly as possible and I reject any delay in such an increase. Increasing the minimum wage from $5.15 an hour to $6.15 would help more than 10 million workers. For typical full-time minimum wage workers, it would mean an additional $2,000 per year -- enough to buy 7 months of groceries or pay rent for five months.

The House Republican leadership did not stop there, however. They have forced the minimum wage increase to be combined with a huge, risky tax cut of $120 billion over ten years. I support tax relief, but this tax cut would jeopardize our ability to strengthen Social Security and Medicare and pay off the public debt by 2013. Moreover, the House Republican tax cut would disproportionately benefit more affluent taxpayers. According to independent sources, about three fourths of the tax reductions would go to the wealthiest 1% of taxpayers and 91% of the benefits would go to the top ten percent. Meanwhile, taxpayers in the bottom 60% of the income distribution would get less than 3% of the benefits. Furthermore, taxpayers in the top 1% of the income distribution would receive an average tax cut of $6,128, while those in the bottom 60% would receive a mere $4 on average. The Republican leadership claims that the tax cuts are needed to help small businesses cope with the minimum wage boost. Unfortunately, very little of the $120 billion package would actually go to small businesses. Finally, the pension provisions in this tax cut package are not only skewed to help highly compensated workers, but could actually lead to pension benefit reductions for rank and file workers.