House Finally Allows Minimum Wage Vote, Attaches Poison Pill

Today, the leaders of the House of Representatives will finally allow a vote to raise the minimum wage from $5.15 an hour to $7.25 an hour over two years. It would be the first increase in the minimum wage in ten years. Raising the minimum wage would benefit 7.3 million low-wage workers. Here’s how AP reports the story:

Republican Congressman Howard McKeon, the chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, said Republican lawmakers would embrace the increase to $7.25 per hour and probably attach a proposal…that would make it easier for small business to band together and buy health insurance plans for employees at a lower cost.

Sounds great! A raise in the minimum wage and a bonus for small business.

Actually, the provision that Rep. McKeon plans on attaching to the minimum wage bill is an ideologically driven proposal to enact Association Health Plans (AHPs). The proposal would “allow selective groups of small businesses to be exempt from state regulation – reducing their insurance premiums while raising them for those not in AHPs.” Here’s the impact:

More uninsured. “A study by Mercer Consulting found that AHPs would increase the number of uninsured Americans by more than 1 million. ”

Higher costs. “Only about one in five small employers would have lower premiums, while more than four out of five would actually see premiums go up.”

Rep. McKeon and his allies are counting on the fact that progressive members will find the Association Health Plan proposal so repugnant that they won’t vote for the bill raising the minimum wage.

It’s been 10 years. It’s time to stop playing politics and allow a straightforward vote on the minimum wage.