Here are Some Dynamic Scoring Ideas for the Immigration Deform Bill

Friday, April 19th, 2013 by and is filed under Blog, Immigration, Issues

The coalition of leftists, big labor, big business, and big GOP consultants who are pushing this immigration bill, which is antithetical to reform, are terrified of the upcoming cost study from the Heritage Foundation.  That’s why Marco Rubio is asking them to employ “dynamic scoring.”  In the minds of his supporters, we should focus on the alleged benefits from the bill with regards to the labor market, which presumably will occur immediately, as opposed to the costs which will occur after 10 years.

The first thing we need to understand is that the children of the amnesty beneficiaries will affect the welfare costs well within the 10-year budget frame.

At present, our legal system operates under the false notion that the 14th Amendment guarantees citizenship for any child born here from someone who entered illegally.  If someone runs over the border and drops a baby, that baby is a citizen.  If the individual comes in on a tourist visa and drops a baby, that baby is a citizen.  This has created the allure of anchor babies, and serves as a huge magnet for illegal immigration.

Although illegals are officially not entitled to collect welfare benefits (though they can get refundable tax credits or steal social security numbers), they can and do collect welfare on behalf of their American-born children.  What the Gang of 8 essentially does is turn millions more people into anchor babies.  Their iteration of the Dream Act (Sec. 2103, page 110) would grant full citizenship to anyone who came here before 16 after just 5 years, irrespective of the fulfillment of their ambiguous enforcement goals.  Unlike previous versions of the Dream Act, there is no maximum age limit of 30.  Hence, a whole lot of people will be eligible for the entire litany of programs in short order, and in the case of those who are still dependents, they will be able to secure benefits on behalf of their parents.

Additionally, as part of the ‘no illegal left behind’ provision of the bill, even those illegals who were deported but are otherwise eligible for the Dream Act (or regular RPI status along a different track), are invited back into the country to accept citizenship in 5 years along with their immediate family members.  There will be a number of aggressive lawyers chomping at the bit to litigate every last one into the legal status.  Add on the fact that states will now be precluded from barring them from instate tuition, it is stupefying how insouciant some Republicans are to the cost of the Dream Act.

With that in mind, think about the children of the hundreds of thousands of temporary guest workers, who will never be temporary because the visa tracking system is not required to be implemented for 10 years (not that it will be implemented then either).  The expressed purpose of the open-borders lobby, at least on the Republican side, is to bring in cheap labor.  Well, when you pay people who have American-born children slave wages, they will be able to collect all those benefits – immediately.

Yup, you can’t forget about the children.

With regards to the benefits to the labor market, that’s a tough thing to score based on the way the bill is written.  Again, to the extent that it’s a good thing to bring in so many new illegal and legal immigrants who will depress wages, this bill won’t allow us to reap those “benefits.”  It sets up a wage-setting agency to regulate the wages of those low-skilled guest workers who come in on the newly issued W visas.  They also have numerous restrictions on employers of H1-B high skilled workers, penalizing them for employing too many of them and setting wage restrictions.

To the extent that there are some real benefits, they are either in quirky ways or in areas that there is already broad consensus to reform.  There is broad consensus to eliminate the diversity visa lottery and move towards a merit-based system, which would greatly benefit our economy.  However, this bill retains a parallel track for those already in line, in which there is no cap based on points.  It essentially increases all areas of immigration across the board.  Why not pass piecemeal legislation just on the beneficial aspects of the bill?

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The Obamacare-Style Waiver Authority of Immigration Bill Nullifies Talking Points

Thursday, April 18th, 2013 by and is filed under Blog, Immigration, News

Do you want to know why this country is going to hell in a handbasket?  Do you want to know why we have a constitutional crisis with the executive branch disregarding many of our laws, particularly our immigration laws?  It’s because of those who construct the legislation.

I’ve spent the past 24 hours combing through the legislation, and have only successfully grasped a few parts of the bill.  How are senators, who are busy with many other assignments, supposed to prepare for hearings on this disgraceful bill within 48 hours?  There are so many problems with every 5 pages of this bill, giving credence to the argument that we must do this one step at a time.

As we noted earlier today, every security “goal,” precondition, and eligibility clause in the Gang of 8 bill is qualified with a waiver, exception, or exemption clause granting the Secretary of DHS authority to do what she wants, just like Obamacare did with the Secretary of HHS.  I’ve only skimmed the first 120 pages, but perhaps the most egregious waiver is the one that essentially allows Napolitano to waive all the eligibility standards for legal status for “humanitarian purposes, family unity, and the public interest.”  Yup, that pretty much covers everything.

Take a look at Section 245B(3)(A) on pages 61-66:

In this section, it lists the eligibility requirements for receiving the RPI status, which will come with social security cards and the full works as soon as Napolitano submits a strategy plan to secure the border.  To begin with, the basic law allows many criminals to get legal status.  They have to have at least 3 misdemeanor offenses in order to be disqualified, and even those have some exceptions:  (emphasis added)

‘‘(3) GROUNDS FOR INELIGIBILITY.—

‘‘(A) IN GENERAL.—Except as provided in  subparagraph (B), an alien is ineligible for registered provisional immigrant status if the Secretary determines that the alien—

‘‘(i) has a conviction for—

‘‘(III) 3 or more misdemeanor offenses (other than minor traffic offenses or State or local offenses for which an essential element was the alien’s immigration status or a violation of this Act) if the alien was convicted on different dates for each of the 3 offenses;

(ii) is admissible under section 212(a), except that in determining an alien’s admissibility—

‘‘(I) paragraphs (4), (5), (7), and (9)(B) of section 212(a) shall not apply;

(II) subparagraphs (A), (C), (D), (F), and (G) of section 212(a)(6)13 and     paragraphs (9)(C) and (10)(B) of section 212(a) shall not apply unless based on the act of unlawfully entering the United States after the date of the enactment of the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration           Modernization Act; and

(III) paragraphs (6)(B) and  (9)(A) of section 212(a) shall not apply unless the relevant conduct began on or after the date on which the alien files an application for registered provisional immigrant status under this             section;

The second part of this clause exempts RPIs from being excluded on a account of being a public charge, pursuant to section 212(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.  Now let’s take a look at subsection (B), our trusty waiver:

‘‘(B) WAIVER.—

‘‘(i) IN GENERAL.—The Secretary may waive the application of subparagraph (A)(i)(III) or any provision of section 212(a) that is not listed in clause (ii) on behalf of an alien for humanitarian purposes, to ensure family unity, or if such a waiver is otherwise in the public interest. Any discretionary authority to waive grounds of inadmissibility under section  212(a) conferred under any other provision of this Act shall apply equally to aliens seeking registered provisional status under this section.

If you listen to the liberals in both parties explain the rationale for amnesty, it is entirely based upon humanitarian purposes, family unity, and the public interest.  There is nobody here who cannot be granted legal status based on that determination.  OK, there are a few exceptions to the waiver:

EXCEPTIONS.—The discretionary authority under clause (i) may not be used to waive—

‘‘(I) subparagraph (B), (C), (D)(ii), (E), (G), (H), or (I) of section 212(a)(2);

‘(II) section 212(a)(3);

(III) subparagraph (A), (C), (D), or (E) of section 212(a)(10); or

‘(IV) with respect to misrepresentations relating to the application for registered provisional immigrant status, section 212(a)(6)(C)(i).

From what I’m seeing of Section 212(a) of  the Immigration and Nationality Act, the exceptions to Napolitano’s discretionary authority would only include the following nefarious crimes:

  1. multiple criminal convictions
  2. controlled substance traffickers
  3. procures or attempts to procure sex traffickers
  4. certain aliens involved in criminal activity and have asserted immunity from prosecution
  5. Foreign Government Officials who have committed particularly severe violations of religious freedoms
  6. traffickers in person
  7. money launderers
  8. Terrorist activity
  9. Polygamist
  10. Childe Abductors
  11. Unlawful Voters
  12. Former Citizens who renounced citizenship to avoid taxation
  13. Misrepresentations on applications for provisional immigrant status

Everyone else, including all regular criminals, even violent criminals and members of terrorist groups and gangs (as long as they have not been convicted), will be eligible for legal status – subject to the discretion of…you guessed it..the Secretary.  And even those convicted of such crimes, might have a way out:

‘‘(C) CONVICTION EXPLAINED.—For purposes of this paragraph, the term ‘conviction’ does not include a judgment that has been expunged, set aside, or the equivalent.

And here is the final kicker:

‘‘(D) RULE OF CONSTRUCTION.—Nothing in this paragraph may be construed to require the Secretary to commence removal proceedings against an alien.

So even the most egregious terrorists and criminals who cannot get legal status, are not necessarily subject to deportation either.

It is incontrovertibly clear that all deportations will be completely suspended for the 10 year provisional period, assuming political pressure doesn’t expedite those 10 years anyway.  Even without stretching the law, which the administration of almost any president will do, almost anyone can potentially be eligible for legal status.  Consequently, it’s practically impossible to commence deportations, especially when this bill grants the immigration lawyers numerous opportunities to challenge any deportation.  In 10 years from now, we will have more illegals than we do today.  Liberals are right to suggest that this is a more progressive starting point for amnesty legislation than in 2006.

This is what happens when Republicans let Chuck Schumer’s staff write legislation, instead of working with conservatives to implement real reforms and solve the real issues with legal immigration and the lack of enforcement.

Legal Waivers Will Defang Enforcement in Gang Bill

Thursday, April 18th, 2013 by and is filed under Blog, News

We’ve noted many times that the lack of immigration enforcement is not a legislative problem, it’s an executive problem.  That’s why we need the administration to show us the enforcement before commencing any legalization process for those already here.  Additionally, there is also a judiciary problem that could completely gut any enforcement measures – to the extent they are ever implemented – thereby ensuring more amnesty without any enforcement.

Much like Obamacare, this bill is rife with gross delineation of power to the Secretary of Homeland Security.  Every condition, trigger, mandate, goal, enforcement mechanism, eligibility qualification, etc. is couched with a waiver, exception, or exemption subject to the discretion of the Secretary.

Although illegals are eligible for temporary legal status almost immediately when Napolitano submits a “plan” to enforce the border, with E-verify and the visa tracking system not in place for 5-10 years, Rubio assures us that they will not be granted permanent status until those things are implemented.  Notwithstanding the other issues with that assertion, take a look at this exception granted to the Secretary of DHS on page 13:

(B) EXCEPTION.—The Secretary shall permit registered provisional immigrants to apply for an adjustment to lawful permanent resident status if— (i)(I) litigation or a force majeure has prevented one or more of the conditions described in clauses (i) through (iv) of subparagraph (A) from being implemented; or  (II) the implementation of subparagraph (A) has been held unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of the United States or the Supreme Court has granted certiorari to the litigation on the constitutionality of implementation of subparagraph (A); and 10 years have elapsed since the date of the enactment of this Act.

Sections (i) through (iv) are referring to the border security strategy, the fencing strategy (yes, not actual construction), E-verify, and the visa tracking system – respectively.  Implementation of all of them can be overridden by a lawsuit.

The ACLU, along with multi-million-dollar immigrant legal defense funds, have already promised to challenge any enforcement measure passed even with bipartisan support.  We’ve learned from Arizona that there is no shortage of judges who will issue injunctions against commonsense immigration enforcement.  They have challenged dozens of commonsense laws throughout the country and have successfully blocked many of them for years, even when the courts ultimately sided with the local governments.  In this case, they will challenge E-verify and they will challenge the visa tracking system.  They will challenge many of the amnesty requirements, and will have more latitude once they already have temporary legal status.  If they prevent implementation, even the LPR/citizenship stage will still take effect (for the applicant and his spouse and children), subject to the discretion of the Secretary.

So we’re approaching an executive and judicial problem by writing legislation to grant the executive even more power to implement amnesty when the judicial system assails the enforcement mechanisms.  Talk about immigration reform.

This is just one more reason why we must demand enforcement now and wait several years before attempting any legalization.

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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