- The Washington Times - Monday, January 29, 2007

During an impassioned floor speech last week, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy lashed out at Republicans for insisting on tax cuts targeted for small businesses to offset the cost of raising the minimum wage.

“How many more billions of dollars do we have to give you, Mr. Republican?” the Massachusetts Democrat shouted. “How many more dollars do we have to give you to get an increase in the minimum wage? It is shocking. It is disgraceful.”

So the Senate Finance Committee — headed by Sen. Max Baucus, Montana Democrat — added up the amount of tax cuts that it had included in the minimum-wage bill that the panel approved earlier this month. The $8.3 billion in tax cuts were aimed at the small businesses that hire most minimum-wage workers.

Senate Republicans were quick to note that the $8.3 billion in tax cuts for small businesses nationwide is less than the $8.5 billion federal funding cap placed on Boston’s Big Dig highway project. Mr. Kennedy has been the principal sponsor of the project, which has been riddled with corruption, cost overruns, delays and safety woes.

“Senator Kennedy complains about $8.3 billion in tax relief out of one side of his mouth, while asking for $8.5 billion in pork-barrel spending out of the other,” said Wesley Denton, spokesman for Sen. Jim DeMint, South Carolina Republican.

“He wants to have it both ways, and that’s exactly what this debate has been about. He says he wants to help people get out of poverty, but then proposes a one-size-fits all federal mandate that actually prevents people from getting their first job,” Mr. Denton said.

One Republican leadership aide wondered whether minimum-wage workers would be “better served by an increase in the minimum wage with protections to ensure that employers do not cut back on jobs” or a “bailout of one of the most overpriced construction projects in history.”

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