Clinton Signs Minimum Wage Bill

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WASHINGTON, D.C: After watching Bob Dole surge to within five points of him in the latest polls with a strong post-convention bounce, Bill Clinton began his counterattack Tuesdayby signing a bill increasing the minimum wage to $4.75 an hour. The ceremony on the White House South Lawn, attended by cabinet officials and minimum wage workers, is part of an elaborately scripted legislative run-up to the Democratic National Convention. Later this week, the President will sign a welfare overhaul bill and a measure that enhances health care coverage for working Americans. How will the Dole camp counter? "Dole will do two things," predicts TIME's John Dickerson. "Dole's campaign can say that any reform bills Clinton signs were originally produced by a Republican Congress with Dole at its head. Further, the GOP candidate will focus on his message of tax cuts. As long as the Republican Party keeps talking about taxes, it feels like it has a chance." About 10 million Americans will be affected by the minimum wage increase. Workers taking home $4.25 an hour will make $4.75 per hour on October 1. That rate will jump to $5.15 an hour the following September. Most Republicans bitterly opposed the populist measure initially, fearing both the boost it could give Clinton in the polls and the possible harm to small business owners. Ultimately, the measure earned considerable bipartisan support after a bitter legislative pill was sweetened by $21 billion in tax breaks for small business owners over the next decade. -->