Gang Plan: Perennial De Facto Amnesty

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013 by and is filed under Blog, News

One of the most common bromides regurgitated by Republicans in defense of ‘amnesty first, enforcement later’ proposals is that we already have de facto amnesty with Obama not enforcing the laws.  This was always a dubious argument even before the release of the gang bill.  We should not use Obama’s malevolence as a baseline from which to craft public policy.  Instead of rewarding Obama for his insidious abuse of power by granting him the desired outcome, we should hammer him incessantly and fight for riders in appropriation bills to enforce the laws.

Moreover, although illegal immigrants are currently enjoying a liberal enforcement regime, they do not have a pathway to welfare and voting – something they will get with amnesty de jure.  Legalization and citizenship are a lot more than amnesty.

However, with the release of the BS…EOIMA (Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act – S.744), there is now a more salient meaning to de facto amnesty.  The 844-page “comprehensive” bill, reminiscent of other notorious comprehensive legislation, was dropped at 2:25 AM, just two days before a scheduled hearing.  I just got through the first 100 pages of the bill, and in addition to the numerous issues that are emerging from the first reading, there is one overarching theme.  This bill will keep our system in a perpetual state of de facto amnesty for years to come, engender the need for future amnesties, and never ensure true enforcement.

As noted before, this bill fails to mandate any specific trigger for legalization.  After Janet Napolitano  merely submits a strategy for “achieving and maintaining effective control between the ports of entry in all high risk border sectors along the Southern border” within 6 months, everyone is eligible to apply for “Registered Provisional Immigrant” (RPI) legal status.  That’s it.  From there, the legal status will never practically be revoked.

The bill prescribes a 12-month open enrollment process for the RPI status; however, like much of the bill (reminiscent of Obamacare), it cedes a lot of power to the Secretary.  She will have the authority to extend the application period for another 18 months (page 69).  Now, we know from the conditions of the bill that almost every illegal in the country could be eligible for RPI status until proven otherwise.  In fact, even some aliens already deported can come back and apply for the status.  To that end, the bill requires DHS to provide all aliens, even those who are apprehended, “with a reasonable opportunity to file an application.”

Hence, this will ostensibly halt all deportations for 2.5 years.  Subject to the discretion of the DHS, which they will use quite liberally, they could completely shut down deportations because any illegal can potentially be here before 2012; anyone could potentially pay the taxes [they never earned enough to pay] and the $500 fine; anyone could potentially be an Ag worker who is eligible for full legal status in 5 years.  And anyone could potentially be eligible for the Dream Act, because, unlike previous iterations, this one does not mandate a maximum age for eligibility.

During this period of no deportations, many more people will come here illegally or overstay their visas.  What would be the deterrent?  Does anyone really believe that after the application process is over, they will suddenly make a 180 and deport those who didn’t come forward?  Also, given that the E-verify and watered-down visa tracking system don’t have to be implemented for 10 years, we will be dealing with many more illegals.

By the time the 10-year deadline comes due to grant the RPI illegals green cards and citizenship (unconditionally within 3 years), we will probably have more illegals than we have now.  As for the “trigger” of operational control over the border preceding the citizenship, Byron York takes apart the ambiguous language and shows how it is subject to the whims of DHS.  Moreover, failure to control the border will only trigger another commission, which will be tasked to provide even more recommendations and spend more money.  Furthermore, the RPI status is subject to renewal every 6 years.  So even if the border is not secure by year 10, the amnestied illegals will still be covered pursuant to their application on year 6.

This, of course, is just working off the legal language of the bill.  The reality of executive actions and political considerations never follow the language to the letter of the law.  That is certainly the case with immigration and border enforcement, as we are so painfully aware.  That’s why none of this can work until Obama starts enforcing the laws already on the books.  Until then, we will continue to play whack-a-mole, trying unsuccessfully to grant amnesty faster than new illegals enter the country.

Congressman Louie Gohmert noted during a subcommittee hearing last week that a staggering 34.9% of all federal prosecutions under this administration (that’s including all the drug-related prosecutions) were for people reentering the country after they were already deported.  This is not the time to go along with a plan that, even with good-will commitments, will not secure anything for 5-10 years while simultaneously suspending all interior enforcement.  It’s a recipe for chaos.  Implementation of this plan will be just as disastrous as implementation of Obamacare.

There are a number of things Congress can do to make our current legal immigration system benefit the country at large more than it does today.  But with regards to dealing with illegal immigration and border enforcement, the ball is in the administration’s court.  They must show us the enforcement now.  That needs to be the unifying rallying cry for all Republicans.  We must only verify, not trust, when it comes to enforcement.  Otherwise, we will be dealing with perennial de facto amnesty, whether it’s sanctioned by law or not.

Cross-posted at RedState.com

Dems Vote Down Bill to Ban Tax Delinquents from Federal Jobs

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013 by and is filed under Blog, News

Is there no degree of commonsense that Democrats will adhere to?

The media is pining for bipartisan cooperation in Washington.  Well, on Monday, the House brought a bill to the floor that should have passed unanimously.  On Tax Day, Rep. Jasson Chaffetz (R-UT) wanted to draw attention to the fact that there are some federal employees that are delinquent on their taxes.  He brought the Federal Employee Tax Accountability Act of 2013 (H.R. 249) to the floor under suspension, requiring a 2/3ds threshold to pass.  All this bill would do is make any person who has a seriously delinquent tax debt ineligible for federal employment or to continue serving as a federal employee.  Chaffetz explained the problem in his floor remarks:

In 2011–the most recent year for which the IRS data is available–they tell us that 107,658 civilian Federal employees owed more than $1 billion. Now, the statistics say they have a greater compliance than the rest of the public. But let’s remember, when you’re unemployed, you’re probably going to have a hard time complying. Employment for those that are Federal workers is 100 percent. They have a job. They have a responsibility to pay their taxes.

It was reasonable to assume that he could bring this bill up even under suspension.  How could it fail to garner 2/3ds support?  Well, it did.  It got 250 yea votes and 159 no votes, but fell shy of the 2/3ds supermajorty.  152 Dems, or 75% of the caucus voted it down.

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Hey, Charlie Brown, Are You Ready for Some Immigration Football?

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013 by and is filed under Blog

As the Gang of 8 introduces their proposal, just remember that all of your concerns are unfounded.  Unlike previous amnesties, this one will not grow the welfare state; it will not affect wages; it will not change the composition of the country.  Most importantly, it will finally ensure that we enforce the laws before people are granted amnesty.  NOT!  Although the bill keeps being leaked in pieces, here are some clear concerns that have emerged from the memos circulating around the Hill:

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The Stock Act: A Look into Drive-by Lawmaking

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013 by and is filed under Blog, News

Did you know that Congress and the President quietly repealed misguided aspects of the Stock Act a few days ago?  I thought not.

Late in 2011, CBS’s “60 Minutes” aired a sensational news story detailing allegations that lawmakers were profiting from investments spawned by non-public information.  Harry Reid seized the moment, and in a highly political calculation, brought the STOCK Act (S. 2038) to the Senate floor.  The bill banned lawmakers and some aides from buying or selling stocks and other securities based on confidential information.  As a means of enforcement, the bill required those effected to report stock and bond transactions within 30 days of the transaction.  The bill sailed through the Senate and passed 96-3 on February 2.

Not to be outdone in the game of political grandstanding, the House passed a similar bill under suspension 417-2, circumventing the entire committee process.  Differences between the House and the Senate were resolved by unanimous consent and the bill was signed by the President in March.

So in a matter of two months, Congress voted to overcriminalize the undefined and ambiguous vice of insider trading.  In their mind, corruption in the legislative process was over.

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Foreign Holdings of US Debt Hit Record High

Monday, April 15th, 2013 by and is filed under Blog, News

The gross federal debt stands at $16.8 trillion, up from $10.6 trillion when Obama took office.  The total public debt is almost $12 trillion, double what it was when Obama was inaugurated.  The most destructive part of the public debt is the share of foreign owned treasuries.  According to the Treasury Department, the share of foreign holdings in U.S. treasuries has reached a record high – $5.66 trillion.  

The Treasury Department said Monday that foreign holdings of U.S. Treasury securities increased 0.3 percent in February from January to a record $5.66 trillion. It was the 14th straight monthly increase.

China, the top foreign owner of Treasury debt, increased its holdings 0.7 percent to $1.22 trillion. Japan, the second-larger holder, trimmed its holdings 0.6 percent to $1.1 trillion.

Overall demand kept rising despite sharp disagreements between Congress and President Barack Obama over tax and spending issues. Still, Congress approved a measure to temporarily suspend the borrowing limit until May 19. That has allowed the government to take on more debt while the debate continues.

The increase left total holdings 10.8 percent higher than a year ago. Out of the total foreign holdings, 72 percent is owned by foreign governments including foreign central banks.

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They Lied to us Then About Immigration; They are Lying Now

Monday, April 15th, 2013 by and is filed under Blog

“First, our cities will not be flooded with a million immigrants annually. Under the proposed bill, the present level of immigration remains substantially the same … Secondly, the ethnic mix of this country will not be upset … Contrary to the charges in some quarters, [the bill] will not inundate America with immigrants from any one country or area, or the most populated and deprived nations of Africa and Asia … In the final analysis, the ethnic pattern of immigration under the proposed measure is not expected to change as sharply as the critics seem to think.” […]

“The bill will not flood our cities with immigrants. It will not upset the ethnic mix of our society. It will not relax the standards of admission. It will not cause American workers to lose their jobs.” [Ted Kennedy at Judiciary Committee hearing on Feb. 10, 1965, commenting on the Hart-Celler Act]

What is it not?  It is not millions of people cascading across the border….It is not welfare benefits for those folks immediately.  In fact, it’s in the bill right now that they cannot get AFDC benefits….It is not immediately wives, husbands, and children will come across. Not the case.” [Chuck Schumer on the House floor, commenting on 1986 amnesty bill].

Well, the rest is history.  It is impossible to quantify how much the last two decades of illegal immigration – a direct result of the ’86 amnesty – has cost us in education, healthcare, welfare, refundable tax credits, and criminal justice.  It is impossible to quantify how much the 1965 Kennedy bill has upset the balance of the country, ballooned the welfare state, and created a permanent Democrat majority in many parts of the country.

Now, instead of being ashamed of his past failures and lies, Chuck Schumer is back pushing amnesty for the people who were never supposed to come here as a result of his original amnesty.  This is about as Orwellian as it gets.  Now he has Marco Rubio to do his bidding and use mellifluous language to cajole conservatives into supporting another “Charlie Brown” style immigration bill.

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How to Give Vulnerable Democrats Cover on Guns

Friday, April 12th, 2013 by and is filed under Blog, News

Yesterday, 16 Republicans voted along with the Democrats to break the filibuster against the Reid gun control bill (S.649).  Although Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn voted against it, they failed to whip against the vote, exerting no pressure on these wayward Republicans to put the brakes on this fast moving train wreck.  The end result is exactly what the Wall Street Journal editorial page advocated earlier this week: we will now have a debate on how much we are willing to limit the Second Amendment.

On Tuesday, the WSJ condescendingly chastised Senate conservatives for mounting a filibuster on the motion to proceed with debate.  They mockingly observed that “If conservatives want to prove their gun-control bona fides, the way to do it is to debate the merits and vote on the floor. They can always filibuster the final bill if they want to, but it makes no sense to paint themselves into a political box canyon before even knowing what they’re voting on.”

Moreover, they argued that by blocking debate on the bill, red state Democrats “don’t have to declare themselves on provisions that might be unpopular at home.”

Obviously, these novice observers of the legislative process have not been paying attention to the way the Senate has functioned in recent years.  The reason why Republicans need to filibuster even the motion to proceed on debate is precisely to leverage Reid into allowing a debate in the first place!  Reid has used a parliamentary procedure to “fill the amendment tree” and block all amendments that would embarrass his caucus.  To that end, the only recourse for Republicans is to filibuster the motion to proceed with debate, as a means of forcing him to allow amendments to go through.

Now that these Republicans, with the support of the dinosaur conservative intelligentsia, have handed over their one point of leverage, Harry Reid has once again taken full control of the amendment process in an effort to protect the vulnerable Democrats.  In fact, it is those 16 Republicans who afforded Reid the opportunity to hand out hall passes to Pryor and Begich yesterday to vote no on cloture.  They provided him with more than enough votes to break the filibuster without those two Democrats.  Now they can go home to their states (Arkansas and Alaska) and feign a more pro-gun posture than one-third of Republicans.

Now it will only get worse once “debate” commences next week.  Harry Reid knows that there is no chance of ever passing a sweeping gun banning bill.  He merely wants Republicans to break their consistency on the issue, and grant the overzealous ATF more power to begin stepping up gun stings and collecting more data.  Perforce, he will bring up Feinstein’s assault weapons ban knowing that it will never pass, only to offer Democrats like Kay Hagen (NC), Heidi Heitkamp (ND), Joe Donnelly (IN), Max Baucus (MT), and Claire McCaskill (MO) the opportunity to vote no and bolster their position at home.  They might also vote yes on some good Republican amendments with the knowledge that they won’t pass either.  This will give them the requisite cover to vote for the part of the bill Reid thinks will actually pass.

Enter Schumer’s Toomey-Manchin amendment.  Although it contains dangerous healthcare privacy concerns, statist regulations on transporting guns across state lines, and allows the ATF to collect more data from background checks, it doesn’t overtly ban guns.  All those vulnerable red-state Democrats will have enough cover to support it because they will vote the right way on all the straw men votes.

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The Fundamental Flaws with Comprehensive Immigration Deform

Thursday, April 11th, 2013 by and is filed under Blog

There’s one overarching problem with all of the proposals for comprehensive immigration reform.  They are being drafted by the same La Raza/big labor/big corporate welfare coalition that blew up our immigration system and engendered this problem in the first place.  Having a couple of Republicans lend their names to the pack of wolves guarding the henhouse of “reform” will not change the fact that these people want open borders, endless supplies of low-skilled immigrants, welfare recipients, and Democrat voters.  Their promises about enforcement and welfare after legalization are about as valuable as the Palestinian promise to stop the terror after getting a state.

Border Security/Enforcement

The Senate’s Gang proposal will immediately legalize every single illegal before even their tepid conditions for enforcement are implemented.  The other so-called hoops they have to jump through are only preconditions for a path to citizenship.  Moreover, the same logic that is pushing them to legalize them now will persist for those who don’t jump through the hoops later.  They are all predicated on the fact that we can’t enforce the laws and we can’t deport illegals when we find them.   So what are they going to do with the ones who don’t jump through the hoops or pay the fines and taxes?  What are they going to do with those who came here more recently?  Deport them?  What are they going to do with all those friends and relatives who come here and overstay their visas to take advantage of the amnesty?   Deport them?  These guys already stated that they have no desire to do that.

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16 Republicans Give Cover to Dems on Gun Bill

Thursday, April 11th, 2013 by and is filed under Blog, News

Moments ago, 16 Republicans joined with Democrats to vote for cloture on the biggest gun grabbing bill since 1994.  In doing so, they gave cover to Senators Pryor (AR) and Begich (AK), allowing them to vote no, while still granting Harry Reid the votes needed to break the filibuster. The names of the traitors are Sens. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Richard M. Burr of North Carolina, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Susan Collins of Maine, Bob Corker of Tennessee, Jeff Flake of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Dean Heller of Nevada, John Hoeven of North Dakota, Johnny Isakson of Georgia, Mark S. Kirk of Illinois, John McCain of Arizona, Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania and Roger Wicker of Mississippi.

They will contend that they are merely allowing debate to proceed and will not vote for a bad bill in the end.  The problem is that once cloture is invoked, Reid will cut a deal to move some sort of compromise, such as the Toomey-Manchin expanded background check deal, which will undoubtedly garner enough support to win passage.

Although Mitch McConnell personally voted no, he failed to enforce party discipline by whipping up the vote.  This is exactly why we must change the leadership and the members of the GOP Senate Conference.

Taxes, Guns, and Chuck Schumer as GOP Leader

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013 by and is filed under Blog, News

Until recently, taxes and guns were the two issues that served as the glue to bind together Republicans of all stripes.  They were the two issues that even feckless elected-Republicans could be counted on to hold the line and stand with conservatives.  But over the past few years, Obama and the Democrats have gotten Republicans to break their impervious opposition to tax increases by supporting “increased revenue” and closing “loopholes.”  Now they are doing the same thing with guns.

Democrats know that they have lost the policy debate on these two issues over the past two decades.  That’s why they will never directly push for sweeping tax hikes on everyone (at least not in a way people will notice) or for complete confiscation of guns.  Instead they are trying to cut around the edges in order to get Republicans on record as supporting some new “revenue increase” or a new gun law, in the hopes of reopening the door on those two issues for future concessions.

On the tax front, they have gotten many prominent Republicans to agree to the premise of closing “loopholes” for those who already pay 40% of the income tax (even after those  so-called loopholes are factored in).  They also got them to sign onto the Biden/McConnell tax increases.  The irony about these tax hikes is that in order to win the messaging war with Republicans, they must target only the very rich.  However, by only targeting the rich, the amount of revenue they raise is so insignificant that it defeats the original purpose of the tax hikes.

Or does it?

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