WASHINGTON-This election year, two favorite political footballs are a 4.3-cent federal excise tax on gasoline (which congressional Republicans want to repeal) and the minimum wage (which Democrats want to raise). Not surprisingly, tire industry spokesmen and their allies generally favor the first and oppose the second.
The Clinton administration has made raising the minimum wage to $5.15 per hour from the current $4.25 a top priority. Senate Majority Leader Robert Dole, however, said he may tie the minimum wage vote with a vote on the gas tax, which was enacted three years ago as a budget-balancing measure. President Clinton said he was willing to accept Mr. Dole's proposal, but Senate Republicans and Democrats were still farContinued from page 1
from agreement on a compromise as of May 9.
Many business organizations, especially associations representing tire dealers and retreaders, regard any increase as a major detriment to their operations.
``We're opposed to a minimum wage increase,'' said Roy E. Littlefield III, government relations director for the International Tire and Rubber Association (ITRA). ``Not because our members pay minimum wage-most don't-but because it ratchets everything up so much. When you raise wages on the ground floor, you drive up the cost of everything, and these are tough times for small business.''
Most of the industry doesn't take issue with a gas tax per se, ``but we feel the revenue from any federal gas tax should be dedicated to the highways,'' said Donald T. Wilson, government affairs director for the National Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association.
The Service Station Dealers of America, which shares Washington representation with the ITRA, testified in favor of repealing the gas tax May 3 before the Senate Finance Committee.
Because the gas tax receipts were not earmarked for highway construction and maintenance, ``(the tax) violated the agreement between the government and the motoring public,'' said Melvin Sherbert, chairman of the SSDA Legislative Committee. ``It set a bad precedent and should now be corrected. . . . (T)he savings to motorists would be passed on as soon as the repeal would be realized.''