Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Gordo Passes Up Minimum Wage Hike--Again

Who says Senator Gordon Smith is a waffler, a flip-flopper, an inconsistent mystery wrapped in a tortilla with enchilada sauce? Well OK, we said it about his various stances on the Iraq escalation--but here I'm talking about his general voting behavior. And on that score, you can pretty much predict Smith's movements like a sundial's: he won't say anything meaningful on the subject until the zeitgeist is clear; and if he can sell out one of his promises with some kind of convenient rationalization, he'll do it. If he says he'll protect ANWR for instance, don't let him vote on it as part of an omnibus spending bill, because then he'll vote for drilling. Or if he says he opposes a troop surge, don't say anything the least bit impolite in the nonbinding resolution to that effect, because that will offend his tender sensibilities (as opposed to calling the President's policies absurd and possibly criminal, I guess).

And today we learned that he's just as nimble going the opposite way--refusing to vote for something he's claimed he supports, BECAUSE it's a standalone bill without poison pill amendments. He said this about the minimum wage in 2005 (before voting yes on a version of the bill that he knew was preordained to fail--another useful face-saving tactic):
Although Oregonians receive a wage higher than required by federal law, it’s important to raise the minimum wage across the country. Working families are facing increases in home heating costs and high gas prices, and their wages should reflect these circumstances.
So you'll never guess what he did today! OK, maybe you will--he was one of 43 Republican Senators voting against cloture for the "clean" House bill, stripped of any tax breaks to sweeten the pot for businesses. The resulting conference bill is likely to emerge with some of those breaks, crafted by Finance Chair Max Baucus, and I predict right now that Smith will vote yes, enabling him to come back and tell constituents he voted for the hike in the minimum wage--just like he promised! There were five Republicans who voted for cloture on the clean bill--Coleman, Collins, Snowe, Specter and Warner. Notice that all of them hail from blue or blue-trending states, and thus were likely conscious of their constituency as they voted. I'm not even sure if Smith was conscious, period, when he voted--he's got this little dance down so well, he might be able to do it in his sleep by now.

Remember this in 2008 when he tries to tell you he's a friend of the working man--and he will. Don't buy the bullshit.