Minimum wage, estate taxes classic politics
With only 16,000 Alabama workers locked into the minimum wage of $5.15 per hour, you might think the gubernatorial candidates would not make the issue of great importance in the state.
Yet, on the eve of the traditional Labor Day campaign kickoff, Gov. Bob Riley and Lt. Gov. Lucy Baxley are talking about whether the wage needs raising as a way of defining their party's philosophy.
It's a traditional Republican vs. Democrat debate. Democrat Baxley wants the state to do as many other states already have done and set a state minimum wage because the federal minimum wage is insufficient.
The governor says Congress is about to raise the federal minimum wage so the state needs to stay out of the fray. But Congress hasn't increased the minimum wage since 1996. Adjusted for inflation, the buying power of the minimum wage is the lowest it has been in 50 years.
Given the gridlock in Congress over Republicans wanting the estate tax eliminated and Democrats wanting a higher minimum wage, don't count on the wage going up before the November election.
Gov. Riley is right to support a cut in estate taxes because they do force family-owned companies out of business, however, he should show more concern for giving these poor workers immediate wage relief.