TRIFECTA. It...

TRIFECTA. It was a big -- and, oddly enough, good -- night in the Senate, as Democrats rejected the mutant estate tax/minimum wage hybrid and passed pension reform. Props, of course, go to Harry Reid for asserting that working folks don't need to deprive the government of $750 billion in revenue that'll shore up Medicare and Social Security in order to get a slight pay hike. Of course, one of those pesky anonymous Republican aides chortled, "We won the last 2 elections and beat Tom Daschle by campaigning against Democrat obstructionism. This could be the gift we were looking for." Don't bet on it. There's not a person in the country who thinks the Republicans are really eager to raise the minimum wage and Democrats are just pro-business obstructionists. Every time a conservative even utters the issue, he's going to drop three points in the polls. Meanwhile, I wouldn't be surprised to see Democrats pasting Republicans for trying to shoehorn in the Paris Hilton tax relief of 2006. Seems an odd and somewhat plutocratic pairing, no? And wait till the American people get a load of this.

Meanwhile, pension reform also passed, rolling through with a 93 to 5 vote. The bill, surprisingly, is a pretty decent one, meant to force employers to better finance their pensions, which are now dangerously under-funded. Some folks worry that the new guidelines will further accelerate the shift away from defined benefit retirement packages, but I find that unconvincing. This will just weed out many of those that would've been foisted on the government and the taxpayer. If the old corporate welfare state no longer functions, we have to either move to a new model or charge the government with administration. A few more heroic measures on an already terminal patient don't make much sense. The left really does need to think about whether the corporate welfare state can be salvaged, and if so, how. Mindlessly preserving failing features of it, however, is not the way to go.

--Ezra Klein

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