The Democrats' move to block pay raises for Congress was a brilliant one politically. How can Congress argue that wage increases at the low end of the scale would affect business climate, and yet fatten their hourly allowances by $15, on average? And for what? To sit in Washington and debate stupid non-issues like flag burning? Tell me one solid bill that has actually passed recently from Washington? Zilch! Nada! If our democracy is about being hostage to electoral concerns every two years, then God save us all!
About the hourly wage, I confess I don't like a fixed wage number. It will lead to retrenchment of low-skilled work, as automation and reallocation will ensure the total cost to business is unchanged. Some Republicans did propose an alternative, linked to tax initiatives, but they never showed any leadership on the issue. This is like Kyoto, where the Bush administration pulled out unilaterally (it did have some valid reasons) but failed to show leadership towards an alternative. But that is a topic for another day!