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Dems: GOP Tried 'Political Blackmail'

A failed Republican attempt to tie an estate-tax cut to the first federal minimum wage increase in nearly a decade was "political blackmail" and the result of "cynical politics," Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., said Saturday.

"Working Americans deserve a raise, but congressional Republicans keep giving them political tricks," Salazar said in the Democrats' weekly radio address. "We need a new direction for America, and a new Congress that works for our common good."

The Senate on Thursday rejected, 56-42, legislation that would have cut estate taxes and raised the hourly minimum wage to $7.25 from $5.15 over three years. Senators needed 60 votes to advance the bill, which passed the House last week.

Democrats, who generally supported increasing the minimum wage but opposed the cost of the bill's estate tax package, criticized Republicans for using the minimum wage to push a tax break for the wealthy.

Salazar said the bill was an example of tactics Republicans have used for the last six years.

"I came to Washington to focus on America's great challenges, but that has not been possible in the 'do-nothing Congress' we have today," he said. "Washington Republicans have done little to address the real problems facing our country. And when they have taken action, the results have made America less safe, and the middle class of America has been forgotten."

As lawmakers headed home for the August recess — many to campaign for the November elections — Salazar argued that voters need to oust the Republican-controlled Congress.

Democrats are committed to improving national security and finding solutions to "shared challenges" by reducing reliance on foreign oil, raising the minimum wage and finding a solution to the broken health care system, Salazar said.

"Together, Democrats will change the current course of America and take our great nation in a new direction of peace, hope and prosperity," he said.

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