Posted tagged ‘immigration reform’

2016 – What Will The GOP Run Against?

December 3, 2014

A NBC poll released today showed former GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney leading all perspective 2016 nominees. Romney logged in with 20% preference by those polled. In second place was Ben Carson with 10%. All the other Sunday talk show guests lined up as little ducks with descending percentages. Hmmm.

Romney’s preference can certainly be assigned to the fact that there has been little money spent to date for the 2016 race. The boat load Romney spent in 2012 makes him the most recognizable GOP candidate even though Romney has consistently said he is not a candidate for a third try.

Here’s some ideas for the eventual GOP candidate.

  • The Economy. Candidate “A” can claim he/she will get the economy going again. Hmmm. Considering the mess President Bush left, and the steady climb back, the current US economy is second to none in the world. And, the return to a strong economy was accomplished without any tax give away programs for corporations or the very wealthy. What can the GOP claim? Maybe they might point to the many Americans who do not feel they are participating in the recovery because their jobs do not pay enough. Hold your breath and lets see what this daring GOP candidate offers as the path to fairer income distribution.
  • Good Jobs. This would be a worthy goal for either party. The difficulty both will have is where would “good jobs” come from and how would the government play a role in enabling? Chances are no GOP candidate will offer anything substantive in reference to type of jobs or how to enable their creation (conflicts with small government goals). Simply saying, Candidate “B” stands for more good jobs will probably be the extent. For example, being specific like wanting to complete the XL pipeline because it will create good paying jobs, while partially true will also help depress the price of oil and refined products (good for most consumers). The lower oil prices will simultaneously create unemployment as current oil producers find their sunk costs exceeding the new lower price of crude. Hmmm.
  • The Affordable Care Act. It will be practically irresistible for GOP candidates to not cry for repeal of ACA. Candidate “C” will pronounce it a “train wreck”. Unfortunately for Candidate “C”, the facts do not support the train wreck description. No longer are Americans denied coverage due to a pre-existing condition or have their coverage canceled due to catastrophic illness. Uninsured Americans can obtain affordable coverage when in the past only the healthiest could. And, while it is still early, estimates are being made that the ACA’s emphasis upon reducing hospital errors is actually reducing health care costs. Hmmm. The wise GOP candidate, however, will move from repeal to “repair” ACA and point out certain aspects which should be fixed based upon experience.
  • Foreign Affairs. Most GOP candidates will puff up and say they favor a strong national security posture. More spending by the Defense Department will be their call. These demagogues will point to Russia, the Ukraine, China, and the Middle East as proof that the Obama Administration has botched foreign affairs. Oh, really? The Russian ruble is in free fall due to non-military sanctions put in place to counter Russia’s Crimean and Eastern Ukrainian policies. The Middle East mess, which began with President Bush’s ill-advised invasion and occupation of Iraq and his Administrations frequent calls for “democratic elections” in middle east countries, can only be resolved by the Middle East countries themselves. Any GOP candidate who proposes another invasion will be in for a rude surprise.
  • Immigration. Potentially the hottest potato of all. What can an honest GOP candidate say? Studies by even the most GOP minded business groups all point out the economic advantages of immigration reform. Common sense compels one to see the foolishness of any attempt to deport over 11 million undocumented. Probably the best advice would be to try the “Dick Nixon Vietnam approach”. Candidate “D” could say he has a secret immigration reform plan but can’t reveal it during the campaign because if he did, some could game the system… and Candidate “D” would want the reform to be fair to all.

President Obama will not be running this time. The presumptive Democrat candidate, Hillary Clinton, can both defend and modify the Obama track record based upon the passage of time… things change.

Should the Democrats infact nominate Hillary, the GOP will have the real red meat they seek. Run against Hillary (and Bill).

So maybe the Affordable Care Act, and the Economy, or Jobs, or Foreign Affairs will not be the issues, just Hillary. Hmmm.

Boehner – Does He Mean What He Says?

November 22, 2014

The immediate aftermath of President Obama’s announced immigration reform changes has boggled the minds of any logic driven person. John Boehner has been particularly indignant in his criticism, almost to the point of stammering. Obama has “poisoned the well”, “stuck his finger in the eye of the people’s House”, and “hurt the office of President itself”. Well why hasn’t the House already taken action?  Hmmm.

It is true that Boehner is in a tough spot. He uttered remarks weeks ago aimed at discouraging President Obama from taking this action. So to just let the issue pass would not be the signal Boehner would want to send.

Boehner also has some odd caucus members. This group endorsed shutting down the government and has recommended impeaching the President. This group’s views while out of step with most of America are well received in their home districts. Boehner’s problem, how to keep these (dare I say) extremists in line?

The plain facts are that the Senate passed a bi-partisan compromise immigration reform bill in 2013 and the GOP controlled House never brought the bill to the floor of discussion or vote. The House (or as Boehner says, the People’s House) chose not to act upon immigration reform. So does Boehner mean that the President needs to wait until the House is ready to act, or does he mean the President needs to wait until Boehner can get control of his extremist faction?

Those who claim that the President does not have the Constitutional powers to take these executive actions are mistaken. The House does have, however, the option of “defunding” the government agencies charged with enforcing Obama’s executive actions but that may prove far more difficult than it sounds.

The House has regularly said they wished to pursue immigration reform in a series of independent steps. The President has said “pass a bill” and replace the need for his actions. The GOP now finds itself in a tough spot. If it passes a piecemeal size reform bill, then President Obama can leave in place those parts of his order that the GOP bill does not cover.

If the House does pass a comprehensive bill, then the President must decide whether it is fair enough to sign and not veto. If he signs, this would represent real progress.  If the President vetoes the bill, then until a new bill is presented his executive orders remain in effect.

If, on the other hand, the House “hoots and hollers” and does nothing, Hispanics will have another chance to express their views in the 2016 Presidential election. Hmmm.

From Simply “No” To “What”?

November 20, 2014

President Obama will spell out his intended “executive actions” today in a speech in Las Vegas. Many GOP members, especially those potential 2016 candidates, are frothing at the mouth with statements equating Presidential executive orders as “sticking a figure in Americans’ eyes”. Hmmm.

When many of these same GOP leaders are not redefining Constitutional powers, they are, in addition to immigration, critiquing the President’s Middle East policies. Have you heard? “The President did not act soon enough in Syria and now US options are limited.” Or, how about, “ISIS cannot be eliminated with airstrikes alone”.  Or, “the US should never have left Iraq”.

The GOP has other subject such as creating jobs and growing the economy.  How about, “approving the XL pipeline will create jobs”.  Hmmm.

Let’s think about these positions.

Clearly on any path to reforming the immigration mess will be documenting all those who are here now and ensuring they are paying their taxes.  (If we can’t secure the borders now, why does anyone think we could deport 11 million residents?

Suppose the President recommends tonight such an documentation approach by executive order, could not the GOP controlled Congress pass a more comprehensive bill defining by law which undocumented could be given papers? Could not the GOP controlled Congress pass legislations with appropriate funding (supported by new funding) which would “seal the borders”?

on other issues, could not GOP leaders spell out their recommendations for the Middle East? Could not these leaders defend any accusations that reentering the Gulf States was akin to Vietnam? Could not the GOP explain why America was better suited to solving a centuries old schism between Shiites and Sunnis?

Interestingly, the one issue where the decision is basically immaterial with respect to all the popular arguments, that is building the XL or not.  The XL will neither create new jobs nor will it destroy the environment.

The GOP has chosen a populous, short sighted reasoning to justify their XL position. The GOP’s emphasis upon creating new jobs overlooks what a glutted oil market will do to the booming new jobs in the Dakotas or in many of the other fracking States. A glut of oil has already lowered the price of oil/gasoline and at some point near $70 per barrel, many of the current US oil producers become unprofitable and certainly at that point no wise investor will risk spending more of his money.

The GOP is caught in the transition from the party out of power where just saying no is enough to the party in power where their actions will have consequences. Not much to cheer about yet.

Immigration Fight?

November 18, 2014

President Obama appears to be preparing to face off with GOP congressional leaders over immigration reforms. We have an estimated 11 million undocumented residents and political leaders cannot seem to find common ground upon which to decide what to do with this number.

Some sources reduce this situation to simply denying Democrats new voters were these 11 million to be somehow naturalized. Others speak mightily about the rule of law and these 11 million have broken the law and should be deported. Hmmm.

There is no single story which describes how each of the 11 million got here. In general most came to the US for employment reasons (economic hardship at home). Often a family member was here first and helped the newcomer find employment and housing. Most of the 11 million are Mexican and almost all the 11 million are good workers who perform tasks that American citizens cannot do as well or will not do at the same wage levels as these undocumented will.

Logic does not seem to work in trying to discuss undocumented residents. Who can support free and unfettered entrance to the country including our social support systems? Similarly, who can deny that most of these undocumented perform valuable and necessary work? Who can say that language is an issue, especially for those who come when they are young or have children while here? And it could be  simply fear, Hispanics make up about 16% of America’s population now and there are plenty more of them still in Mexico and nearby Central American countries.

So why again does there need to be a political fight?

The GOP has interpreted the 2014 midterm election results as a clear mandate to govern from their perspective. That means no immigration reform. The fly in the ointment is that the GOP also wants to be seen as capable of governing. The more sensible GOP minds realize that shutting down the government or just grid lock does not inspire the public.

President Obama, however, has said he will use his executive powers to make some reform unless Congress acts. To that promise, GOP leaders have been breathing fire. Why?

Why did not Senate “soon to be leader” McConnell and House Speaker Boehner just say, “hmmm, we will have to see what the President does and then we will decide whether further action is needed?”

The President certainly cannot legislate law. In fact it is the duty of the President to execute laws passed by Congress. Eleven million residents, however, are far too many to find, apprehend, and deport. Hence the President could by order direct his resources to concentrate upon criminals and not divert time and attention towards seeking to find productive undocumented. From the President’s perspective, the GOP could take its time and later make up its mind about immigration reform when it got around to it.

There is, of course, another explanation for the President’s promised action and the GOP’s promised reaction. Each side has calculated that there is little they can agree upon because the liberal wing of the Democratic Party is too far away from the conservative wing of the Republican Party. Whatever.

Immigration reform is an important issue. This 11 million undocumented issue needs to be resolved wisely.   What if the 11 million were mostly from Mali, Liberia, or Nigeria? Or what if these 11 million were mostly form North Africa or the Middle East? Mexicans are hard workers with religious and social values very similar to most Americans. If there was one group of immigrants besides Europeans the country should want, it ought to be Mexicans one would think.

I wonder how this “fight” will turn out?

Immigration Reform – Hopeless

May 14, 2014

The President of the US Chamber of Commerce, Tom Donohue, has spoken to the GOP telling them that they can forget about 2016 if they do not pass some form of Immigration Reform. Donohue said simply look at the demographics. Hmmm.

There are many reasons the US should look to reform its immigration policies. A simple one is that the country invites foreigners to attend our Universities and then often requires these people to leave the country, fully educated and trained. Doesn’t that sound wasteful or short sighted?

Immigration Reform actually involves a minimum of three distinct issues.

  • (1) The country needs to liberalize its handling of wealthy, educated would be immigrants in order that this talent be put to work on the US economy.
  • (2) The US needs to maintain compassionate but strictly limited quotas on political and economic refugees.
  • (3) The US needs to recognize the free movement of labor from Mexico and Canada into the US providing reciprocal rules are also in place.

The present estimated 12 million undocumented aliens living in the US has been put forth as the stumbling block. Most of these 12 million are hispanic, and most of them are Mexican. Immigration reform which includes a pathway to citizenship has been seen by the GOP as endorsing line breakers and outright criminal behavior.

Technically the GOP is correct but these 12 million didn’t come here overnight. Immigrants have throughout history presented problems to a wide number of countries. The US has dealt with immigration as well if not better than most other countries. If you don’t believe this statement check the phone book and look at the variety of surnames.

GOP opposition today, however, is based upon short term political calculations. Certain factions of the GOP base cannot accept immigration reform and completely reject the notion of a pathway for current undocumented residents.

The GOP has calculated that it must maintain this base and hope to pick up more voters who chose other issues as their litmus test. Hmmm.

In 2012, the GOP got cross ways with voters over immigration, women’s issues, and gay rights. While many GOP members hold progressive views on these subjects, their voices were drowned out by the vocal anti minority. Donohue is warning that it will happen again unless the GOP gets its act together.

The GOP has unfortunately gotten its thinking all screwed up. It has followed ideological thinking without the support of data or the reality of today’s world.

Drastically cutting government spending during a relatively weak economy is doomed.  This GOP policy fails to take into account that the US economy is part of a global economic world .

Logically, however, how can anyone endorse unbalanced budgets for as long as one can see?

The country really needs the GOP to clean up its act. Without thoughtful approaches to the tough problems facing all countries (such as global warming, population growth, food production, renewable energy sources, etc), the US is destined for second rate status, and a poor life for our children.  Without a thoughtful opposition we should not expect Democrats to lead us any better.

Immigration Reform Is Dead (For This Year)

February 3, 2014

Over the weekend, Republican Representative Paul Ryan said, in his opinion, immigration reform was dead for 2014.  The sense was that Ryan was reflecting realities, not his personal preferences.  Republicans appear too ideologically divided to settle on any one sensible immigration position.  And, 2014 is an election year.  Ryan gratuitously allowed that too many Republicans believe that President Obama would wink at increased border control and move to open the path to citizenship instead.

I would hope that President Obama or anyone that succeeds him will do the same.  The preoccupation with “securing the borders” is a fools errand.  The US prides itself in being an open country and foreign visitors, for all sorts of reasons, are both a matter of fact and an  economy plus.  Anyone can overstay their authorized entry, with or without a visa.  Our country is large and with a history of privacy, citizens and undocumented visitors can come and go easily.

Taking this point a step further, if there was some way to build a solid, impenetrable wall between Mexico and the US, does anyone think that will stop undocumented workers from entering the US?  Each year documented workers tend our agriculture fields, or visit Disney World, or attend our Universities.  What keeps them from just staying?

Now lets look at this the other way.  Suppose we simply stopped the “secure the border” campaign and stopped building walls and fences.  Instead, we instituted unlimited work visas (for Mexicans) and seriously cracked down on the employment of undocumented workers (including domestic labor).  What do you think would be the consequences?

Securing the border is a copout for not cracking down on vusiness employers (who donate to political campaigns) and the top 2% who employ nannies, cooks, and handymen and do not pay social security.  Hmmm.

So while Representative Ryan’s comments reflect reality, these comments like so many before, really reflect an unwillingness to change the current situation.

Arguably, the current situation does most everyone well, or at least does everyone the least damage.  There is plenty of cheap labor and in boom times we know there is more labor still in Mexico.  So why should this issue concern us?

As Germany and other European Countries have found out, the importation of guess labor has complications when that labor remains for long periods of time.  Most European Countries were content with the presumed temporary nature of “guest workers” but when the guests remained for several generations (and did not assimilate) other issues arose.

The main issue is that a country cannot effectively send “guests” back to their home country after years of residency.  The guests have made a new home.

Of all places, the US is composed of “guest workers”.  Almost all the 320 million Americans can trace their family tree back to immigrants.  Do I smell hypocrisy?

Unfortunately, I do not expect the GOP (or Democrat) positions to mature much in 2015.  Speaking frankly about how to treat guest labor and why it is a good idea to make a path for the guest to become a red, white, and blue American does not seem likely.

For all sorts of economic and social reasons, a rationale path to citizenship for Mexicans and Canadians (our neighbors) will benefit all involved.  When the threat of legal problems are gone, many guests will choose to return to their native country while others will remain and become indistinguishable from the rest of us immigrants.


I’m Feeling Depressed

October 25, 2013

In fact I’m feeling quite well.  But when I consider the automatic response I make when I meet someone on the street… “hello, how are you?”  and I say, “great, I doing just great.”  Hmmm.  Feeling depressed somehow seems more appropriate.

But why?

It is a lovely October day.  Sun’s out, crisp temperature and looking around, everyday things look full of like and quite good.  Rowers are practicing for tomorrow’s “Head of the Schuylkill Regatta”.  Full of life and grace, what could be more optimistic?

Well let’s contrast this optimism for a dose of alternate reality.

The trails of our National Parks have been hardly disturb with new visitors since their closure due to the senseless and idiotic Government shut down.  How can one logically deal with politics where one party (maybe both) thinks that negotiating is better done by holding a gun to the other side’s head?

Now its time for “immigration reform” to fill prime time.  This issue is destine to go no where, too, due to the same type of “government shutdown” thinking.  The hoot is that House Republicans will show a deaf ear mainly because there can be no reform without a pathway to citizenship.  Citizenship is seen as more votes for Democrats.  Ain’t going to happen.  (And the real hoot is that with no movement on immigration, GOP Presidential chances in 2016 go with it.

Depression also has room for non-partisan issues too.  The Eric Snowdon-NSA scandal is a gift that keeps on giving.  The latest round of revelations involves the NSA listening in on private cell phone conversations of European Government leaders.  Big brother is out of control it appears.

Back in Philadelphia, public schools remain underfunded (like about $300 million).  In addition, those who graduate (only 50-60%) in far too many cases are unemployable due to inadequate verbal and math skills.  State Government has cut support for the Philadelphia School System and called for major changes to the Teacher’s contract as the price for more help.  What about the students?

The government shutdown, immigration reform, the NSA intelligence gathering, and even the Pennsylvania State’s lack of response to the Philadelphia School District pleas have the same themes in common.  Those opposed to the current situation feel licensed to wreak disproportionate damage on innocent standby-ers.  A second common theme is that the damage is done to others and those inflicting the damage suffer nothing.

Isn’t this depressing?

But wait, there’s more.

The Pennsylvania House Education Committee has just reported out a bill which would require all public schools to post a “motto” prominently within each and every school.  The motto is “in God we trust”.  This, of course, makes a mockery of the term “Education Committee” since apparently none have read the Constitution recently.  On a higher plain, forgetting the separation of church and state, doesn’t a “motto” seem irrelevant compared to schools graduating unprepared students?

And lets not forget the Republican controlled House will likely pass this measure as will the Republican controlled Senate.  Then instead of sending more financial assistance to Philadelphia Schools, the State can spend lots of money in a losing court fight defending their ridiculous action.

Hmmm, being depressed might be the appropriate response to “hello, how are you”.