A Guide to Wednesday’s Immigration Conference Meeting

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013 and is filed under Blog, Immigration, News

On Wednesday, House Republicans will finally confront leadership on the issue of immigration.  In reality, the issue is not too complicated.

There is an enormous bifurcation between the public and the political class over the issue of amnesty.  Following passage of the amnesty bill in the Senate, the political class in both parties thinks this is the most pressing issue for the House to consider before the August recess.  Senate GOP leadership is working overtime to beg House members to send something over to conference.  The public, on the other hand, couldn’t care less about the issue, and in fact, is against amnesty.  Moreover, they are distracted with the scandals, Egypt in turmoil, and summer vacations.  As such, there is no reason the House should take up immigration legislation before August.

Nonetheless, the forces at be that have the ear of GOP leadership are working indefatigably to pass some form of amnesty.  To that end, conservatives have set up a conference with leadership and all GOP House members on Wednesday.  Here are the following concerns conservatives must address with leadership:

  • A shell game for conference committee: The biggest concern of conservatives is that leadership will take any bill, even a good enforcement bill, and go to conference with the Senate.  We all know that this will not end well.  Leadership must commit to not conferencing any enforcement bill with the Senate as a means of dropping in amnesty provisions behind closed doors.  If they decline to make that commitment, conservatives must vote down any bill, even a good one, and take down the rule to consider the bill.
  • Citizenship is a red herring: There is concern that some Republicans will focus too much on citizenship, and ultimately agree to an amnesty bill that either delays or eliminates the path to citizenship.  The main concern with the Senate bill is not the path to citizenship; it is the path to any legal status before implementation of enforcement.  Once the legal status is granted, there is no way to permanently hold off citizenship.  It’s just not going to happen.  That’s why any bill which grants legal status before enforcement is worthless.  Leadership might have committed to rejecting the Senate bill, but they are still working on an alternative that officially pushes off the path to citizenship for a few years, an outcome that will never come to fruition.
  • Incremental amnesty: While it is unlikely the House will pass comprehensive amnesty, there is a major concern that they will pass incremental amnesty.  The two biggest threats are the DREAM Act amnesty and legal status for Agriculture workers.  Both of these groups are relatively young and poor, and their legalization would create a profound public charge.  Unfortunately, many Republicans have expressed their support for these two ideas, particularly the Dream Act.  An agriculture amnesty bill already passed out of committee, with only 6 Republicans voting to strip out the amnesty.  Conservatives must remind the conference that even those who are sympathetic to passing these amnesties must not embark on this endeavor before Obama begins implementing the laws on the books and until we eliminate welfare incentives and birthright citizenship.

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Lamar Alexander: The Consummate Statist

Monday, July 8th, 2013 and is filed under Blog, News

Who needs Democrats when we have Republicans like Lamar Alexander?

As I comb through his voting record, it is striking to discover his history of supporting big government. He voted for massive energy mandates and subsidies, tax increases, against blocking eminent domain, for expanded federal healthcare, against blocking Obama’s EPA mandates, against worker’s choice, and for every spending bill under the sun. And of course, for mass amnesty.

It is particularly jarring that he is the Ranking Member on the Appropriations subcommittee on energy. It’s no wonder he is being praised by a new liberal environmental group, “Citizens for Responsible energy Solutions,” for his work on anti-free-market energy policy. Incidentally this group is run by the wife of Steve LaTourette, the chairman of the RINO Republican Mainstreet Partnership.

But, perhaps, the scariest thing about him is that he is the Ranking Member of the Education Committee. Control of the education system is the most important priority for the statists, for when you control the children you control the destiny of the country.

As Lamar Alexander asks voters of conservative Tennessee to give him a third term to push big government, I hope to continue highlighting the need for change. Here is a speech he gave in 1989 on education that really embodies his political ideology and reflects the cumulative effect of his voting record:

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Bill Shuster’s Money Can’t Buy Him Love

Monday, July 8th, 2013 and is filed under Blog, Elections, News

We would like to congratulate Bill Shuster on his ability to raise special interest campaign cash.  For the Q2 of 2013, Shuster reported $646,785 in new funds and $916,180 cash on hand.  But all that money comes at a cost to his constituents.

There is a reason why so many special interests are donating to Bill Shuster. Instead of devolving transportation dollars to the states, Shuster supports raising the gas tax in order to fund more failed federal transportation funds that are used for wasteful handouts to unions.  This might be good for his campaign coffers, but not for motorists and consumers.

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Lamar Alexander Fishing for Distraction from Amnesty Vote

Friday, July 5th, 2013 and is filed under Blog, Immigration, News

What happens when you bring a Lamar Alexander to a Chuck Schumer fight?  He turns around and becomes a weapon for Chuck Schumer and his allies, albeit an ineffective one.

In 2007, before running for a second term, Alexander rightfully noted that “to regain the public’s confidence, we ought to scale it back and fix the problem step-by-step by absolutely securing our borders first, then enforcing our laws without amnesty.”  Now, after years of voting for more spending, higher taxes, more debt, expanded government healthcare, massive energy regulations and subsidies, and liberal judicial nominees, the former third ranking Senate Republican has become a Chuck Schumer Republican.  He led the fight, along with Bob Corker, to push a fledgling amnesty-first bill across the finish line.

Naturally, his constituents in Tennessee  – a state where Obama lost 91 of 95 counties – are not too happy with him.  So he’s going up on the air with a $180,000 media campaign featuring Rand Paul.  What is he touting?  His fishing bill:

In an apparent effort to boost conservative support, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) has launched his first TV ad campaign of the 2014 cycle with a spot featuring footage of Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) that touts a measure Alexander spearheaded to protect fishing access.

“We don’t want a government that’s strong enough to make our lives risk-free. We can do that for ourselves,” says Alexander in the ad, which touts his work to pass a measure that placed a two-year moratorium on efforts to restrict fishing access in certain areas in the state.

The spot includes footage of Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who co-sponsored the measure, saying: “Nobody wants to say no to Lamar Alexander.”

Fish?  Really?  After voting for mass amnesty and new red tape on ICE agents with the hollow promise of enforcement 10 years from now, I don’t think we will have to worry about free fishing.  The entire country will be voting like California, and fishing will be the least of our problems.

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Mitch McConnell, Student Loans, and What’s Wrong With Republicans

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013 and is filed under Blog, Issues, News

Here’s your daily dose of pale pastel politics from GOP leaders.

In 2007, the Nancy Pelosi Congress passed a bill to slash the rate of interest on government-subsidized Stafford loans from 6.8% to 3.4%, at a cost of $6 billion.  But as we noted last week, the market distorting effect of government-subsidization of Big Ed is worse than the $6 billion cost to taxpayers.  The cost of higher education has risen at almost the same pace as the government subsidies.  One would expect Republicans to use the expiration of this Pelosi program as an opportunity to bury this bad policy and identify the true culprit of price inflation – the collusion of Big Gov and Big Ed.

Instead of harnessing the opportunity to explain limited government and free markets, Republican leaders are pandering and trying to out-left the Democrats on their own proposals.  They are decrying the inaction of Congress in extending the subsidized rates.  Here is Mitch McConnell’s rare take on a policy issue in the form of an op-ed in a local Kentucky paper:

Students in Kentucky pursuing higher education have enough to worry about as it is—like passing their exams, or finding a job after graduation. They don’t need the added worry of increasing interest rates for their student loans.

And yet, if Congress does not act before July 1, the interest rate on subsidized federal Stafford loans, given to eligible students to defray the costs of a four-year college or university, community college, or trade, career, or technical school, will double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent.

What’s next?  Are we going to decry the delay of Obamacare implementation?

Amazingly, McConnell recognizes that the effect of the rate increase to students would be negligible, even as its cost to taxpayers and the free market is profound:

Since the doubling of the interest rate would only impact 40 percent of new student loans and lead to students only paying on average $6 more a month for any new loan, some ask why this is a compelling issue

Yet, he proceeds to explain why the expiration of a Pelosi bubble-inducing subsidy is a terribly consequential thing:

But in this Obama economy, too many college graduates are already having difficulty finding jobs.

I’m not even sure what that non-sequitur means.

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Making the Right Argument on Student Loans

Friday, June 28th, 2013 and is filed under Blog, News

Last July, as part of the highway omnibus bill, Congress passed a one-year extension of the 2007 law that reduced interest on government subsidized Stafford loans from 6.8% to 3.4%.  The total cost was $6 billion.  As we have seen with things like unemployment extension, the new fad in Washington is to temporarily extend market-distorting big government programs, with the full intention of making them permanent by creating artificial “cliffs” through expiration deadlines.  The rate cut is set to expire on July 1, setting off another bipartisan pandering fest to outbid each other on inflating an already bloated asset bubble.

In May, the House passed a bill to allow the interest rates on subsidized Stafford student loans to rise with the 10-year Treasury note when the reduced rate is set to expire next month.  The bill, H.R. 1911, would require interest rates for all federal student loans to be pegged to the 10-year Treasury note plus 2.5 percent for undergraduate degrees and 4.5 percent for graduate degrees.  With current rates hovering around 2.5%, the student loan interest rates would rise modestly to 5%, still well below the 6.8% level that they were offered for many years before the Pelosi Congress cut them in half.

On the Senate side, they were so consumed with passing amnesty that they left no time to deal with the student loan increase.  This provides conservatives with a teachable moment to demonstrate why the government should get out of the monopoly over student loans.  Instead of debating how to adjust the rate of interest, Republicans should articulate the case for phasing out this unlimited subsidization of higher education.

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Time To “Document” House Members on Illegal Immigration

Thursday, June 27th, 2013 and is filed under Blog, Immigration, News

It is quite clear that an overwhelming majority of the Senate couldn’t care less what the people think on illegal immigration.  These people live and die by polling, but when it comes to polling on an issue that will create a permanent Democrat majority, they will never listen to us.  According to the latest FoxNews poll, Obama is completely under water on the immigration issue – white voters disapprove of his job on the issue by 60-32, Independents disapprove by 59-32, and non-college educated disapprove by 56-36.  Yet, Republicans are hell-bent on snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, especially at a time when Obama is stewing in a heaping pile of scandals.

They might not vote for amnesty personally, but Mitch McConnell and John Boehner are undocumented supporters of immigration deform.  McConnell’s duplicity has been well documented by now.  He lobbies hard for it in private meetings, but refuses to vote for it.  John Boehner has long said that he wants to pass “comprehensive immigration reform.”  Radical nutcase Luis Gutierrez seems to think Boehner is an ally in his fight to radically transform this country.  They are convinced that this political winner is actually a political loser, and they want to unload this issue immediately.  They will never see the light on the politics of this issue, unless they somehow fire all their consultants and hire Sean Trende.

To that end, the members of leadership will do everything in their power to make this happen on some level.  Whenever they feel something is a political liability, irrespective of the veracity of that estimation, they act out erratically.

Here are my concerns and here is how I see this playing out.

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A Roundup of Farm Bill Votes

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013 and is filed under Blog, News

As promised, here is a review of some of the major amendments offered during debate over the farm bill in the House.  You can click here to see the color-coded spreadsheet of how each Republican voted on the amendments and final passage.  The bill failed 195-234 with 62 Republicans voting no.

Here is a synopsis of some of the major amendments with the vote tallies:

  • Foxx, R-N.C., amendment that would cap the total amount of price loss coverage payments and revenue loss coverage payments during fiscal 2014 through fiscal 2020 at $17 million. It would require producer agreements to specifically state that payments made under these programs be reduced as necessary to comply with the cap. [Passed 267-156 : R 183-48; D 84-108…CQ]
  • Broun, R-Ga., amendment that would repeal permanent price support authority for milk. [Failed 112-309 : R 109-122; D 3-187…CQ]
  • Chabot, R-Ohio, amendment that would eliminate the Market Access Program, which grants corporate welfare to U.S. producers, exporters, private companies and other trade organizations to finance promotional activities for U.S. agricultural products.  In the past, taxpayers have funded reality TV shows in India and wine tasting in Japan. [Failed 98-322 : R 89-142; D 9-180]
  • Brooks, R-Ala., amendment that would terminate the Emerging Markets Program, which promotes exports of U.S. agricultural commodities and products in certain emerging global markets, after Sept. 30, 2013. [Failed 103-322 : R 101-129; D 2-193…CQ]
  • McClintock, R-Calif., amendment that would strike a provision in the bill that would authorize $10 million per year from fiscal 2014 through 2018 for a program to expand domestic farmers’ markets, roadside stands and community-supported agriculture programs. [Failed 156-269 : R 155-76; D 1-193…CQ]
  • Huelskamp, R-Kan., amendment that would allow states to create a work activation program that would require able-bodied individuals receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits to complete two days of supervised job search at the program site each month. While in the program recipients may not refuse offers of employment or refuse to provide information on employment status without good cause. It would suspend SNAP benefits for individuals who fail to comply with the requirements. It also would repeal the nutrition education and obesity prevention grant program. [Failed 175-250 : R 175-57; D 0-193…CQ]
  • Kind, D-Wis., amendment that would limit federal crop insurance premium subsidies to producers with adjusted gross income of less than $250,000, limit per-person premium subsidies to $50,000, cap crop insurance providers’ reimbursement of administrative and operating expenses in 2013 at $900 million and reduce their rate of return to 12 percent of the retained premium. [Failed 208-217 : R 74-157; D 134-60…CQ]
  • Pitts, R-Pa., amendment that would direct the Agriculture secretary to lower loan rates for domestic sugar cane producers to 18 cents per pound for raw cane sugar for each crop year 2014 through 2018. It would require the Agriculture secretary to revise trade tariffs to lower the sugar stocks-to-use ratio to 15.5 percent. The department would be required to administer marketing allotments to ensure sugar supplies, be authorized to suspend or modify any marketing allotment provision and exercise discretion in administering the import quota to provide for adequate sugar supplies at “reasonable prices.” It also would repeal the sugar-to-ethanol program. [Failed 206-221 : R 137-95; D 69-126]

The Amnesty Ship Sets Sail

Monday, June 24th, 2013 and is filed under Blog, Immigration, News

The outcome of today’s amnesty vote was a forgone conclusion.  The cloture motion on the Corker-Hoeven substitute amendment easily passed 67-27.  Every last Democrat voted for this, including the red state Democrats.  15 Republicans also supported the amendment:

  • Alexander
  • Ayotte
  • Rubio
  • Flake
  • McCain
  • Corker
  • Graham
  • Kirk
  • Murkowski
  • Collins
  • Hoeven
  • Hatch
  • Heller
  • Wicker
  • Chiesa

The amazing thing is that most of these members will either never stand for reelection again or not for several more years.  Roger Wicker (MS) was just reelected from a state that opposes this nonsense by a huge margin.  Orrin Hatch would have never won reelection had he campaign on amnesty.  It’s a shame he didn’t have the courage to stand before his people and tell them the truth.   The only members who are in cycle are Lindsey Graham and Lamar Alexander.

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Conservatives Must Use Immigration Deform Like Obamacare in 2014

Monday, June 24th, 2013 and is filed under Blog, Immigration, News

For quite some time, I’ve deemed the Senate a lost cause.  In recent years, Democrats have shown a remarkable sense of discipline, getting every member – even those from red states – to vote for the most radical pieces of legislation.  Moreover, roughly half the GOP conference is worthless and couldn’t care less about their constituents, and there is certainly no leadership from Mitch McConnell.  The fix was in a long time ago on the bill.  That’s why we must work on forming a backstop in the House.

In order to strengthen the resolve of conservatives in the House, we need to begin focusing on the source of this capricious pursuit of amnesty-first at all costs.  These people don’t care about good policy, so all we can do is blow up the irrational political argument that is fueling this political suicide.

In addition to lacking any core principles, the GOP consultant class is completely tone deaf to the electoral tea leaves of their own politically-motivated positions.  In their alternative universe, if the Senate passes an amnesty bill, Republicans in the House are in deep trouble with 8.5% of the electorate.  In the real universe, it’s the Democrats who should be in trouble with 91.5% of the electorate – if Republicans would only take the initiative to campaign against them on this issue.

The grave error of the indolent consultant class is rooted in their misreading of the 2012 election.  As Sean Trende noted last week, the real story of last November was the number of white voters, particularly working class, who failed to turn out and vote for Romney, even though they have been completely disenchanted with the Democrat Party.  Although Romney offered some parsimonious tough talk on immigration when pressed about it during the primary debate season, he refused to campaign on the issue during the general election.

In fact, when Obama issued the illegal administrative amnesty in middle of the presidential race, Romney showed weakness by ostensibly agreeing to the premise of amnesty.  Romney failed to run a single TV ad on this issue during the campaign.  He should have been in Youngstown, Ohio inveighing against this out-of-touch end-run around Congress, while promising to stand with the American worker.  But, alas, Romney said nothing about the issue, and in fact, evinced an image much closer to that of a Zuckerberg corporatist than a conservative populist.

Hence, in pursuit of voters who are largely out of reach, Republicans are leaving millions of white working class voters on the table – voters who are eminently within reach.  Additionally, all the recent polling has shown that Blacks are against this amnesty bill. [Remember, a majority of Blacks voted for Prop 187 in California.] Were Republicans to go on offense and actually embrace a conversation on illegal immigration and enforcement-first during the 2014 midterms, they can drive a wedge between some black voters and the Dems, while crushing them with white working class voters.  Poll after poll shows that Independent voters favor enforcement-first by a wide margin.

And what about the Hispanic vote?  To the extent that there is a large portion of them who are within reach, it certainly won’t occur with the brand of stuffed-shirt Republicanism that is peddled by the consultant class, Mitch McConnell and John Boehner.  It will be through Tea Party populism.

Arizona provides a great example of a favorable outcome for Republicans when they actually choose to engage on a wedge issue and return fire.  In Arizona, there is no ambiguity about the Republican position on immigration.  After all of the GOP-backed enforcement laws, every voter knows where they stand on the issue.  Even John McCain and Jeff Flake are forced to lie to the voters during election years.

So what happened in 2012?

Despite the fact that Hispanics comprised 18% of the electorate (more than Florida and Colorado), Romney outperformed McCain’s 2008 showing in the state.  He received 25% of the Hispanic vote, only slightly below his national average.  Incidentally, Jan Brewer received 28% in 2010.  But here’s the kicker:  Romney blew out the white vote by a whopping 34 points!  There wasn’t even much of a gender gap; he won the white women vote by 30.  He won 12% of Democrats and 51% of Independents.  Indys comprise a larger share of the electorate than either party in the state.

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