Approximately a month ago, I asserted that the leadership of the Democratic party faced a choice in re the minimum wage (see this previous post for review): they could accept a "deal" in which they gave something away (permanent reduction of the "estate tax") and received in return: a 40 percent pay raise for minimum-wage workers over three years. Or they could reject the compromise and, perhaps more significantly, keep minimum wage alive as an issue for the upcoming midterm election. They chose the latter. The tragedy, of course, is that the people, for whom they "care so much," are left out in the cold. Instead of immediate relief, the action of the party is meant to force the "poorest among us" to hope for complete Democratic domination of Congress and the Executive. That may be a powerful weapon to get out the vote--but it is also a cruel calculation, which subordinates policy and humanity to electioneering. Because of this self-interested decision, we may be years away from another opportunity to raise the minimum wage.

The Republicans have a similar dilemma on immigration. They have left themselves an extremely brief window to craft an imperfect solution to a very complicated problem (and most likely face a damaging firestorm on their rightwing). Or they can bury the immigration legislation, run as hardliners on immigration in volatile districts (portraying Democrats as soft-headed multiculturalists, who advocate an open-border policy). The problem with that strategy, as in the case of the Democrats and the minimum wage, is that no one can predict what the future holds. This may be the last Congress in which a GOP majority rules both Houses and a Republican president resides at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue. Eschewing a thorny compromise in favor of short-term boost of political adrenaline may mean that nothing gets done on immigration, for a long time. For all of those who worry about amnesty, no policy means de facto amnesty. For all of those who think there is a problem, doing nothing insures that the problem will not be addressed in the foreseeable future.

Both of these decisions may make for good politics (although I am not convinced that is true; we'll see), but that kind of election-driven legislative strategy makes for horrible policy.

I don't always agree with Dick Morris, but he has it right in his column today: "Neither Side Deserves to be Reelected."