Unfortunately, Friday's vote on the minimum wage was about political theater rather than passing substantive legislation. That's why I joined most of my Democratic colleagues in voting against the plan to link a hike in the minimum wage to a deficit-expanding tax break for the rich.

The House majority intentionally created a bill that its own members could support and most Democrats would oppose. That's how they ended up with a proposal that provided a modest increase in the minimum wage, which has been stuck at $5.15 an hour for nine years, while also giving a huge tax cut for the wealthy that would increase the deficit. There is no other rationale for linking the two efforts.

I strongly support increasing the minimum wage from its current $5.15 an hour to $7.25 cents an hour. This provides low-wage earners a little help to pay for gasoline, food, rent and other critical items that cost far more than they nine years ago.  I could not vote for a fiscally irresponsible plan, which does not have the votes to pass the Senate, to slash the estate tax before our budget deficit is significantly reduced or eliminated.