Politics

The Gang of Eight bill: middle-class devastation with a side order of pork

The Gang of Eight bill: middle-class devastation with a side order of pork

The Gang of Eight Immigration bill passed the Senate on Thursday, falling two votes shy of the 70 votes supporters really wanted.  Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), a leading opponent of the bill, attributed this to senators, and their constituents, growing more “uneasy” about the bill as they studied it.  ”Failure to reach 70 votes is significant, and ensures the House has plenty of space to chart an opposite course and reject this fatally flawed proposal,” Sessions said in a statement issued Thursday evening.

Sessions encouraged his colleagues in the other chamber of Congress to get busy with charting that opposite course by declaring, “This bill must never become law… we must return to the drawing board and produce legislation that serves the just and legitimate interests of the nation, its people, and all who wish to call America home.”

Senator Sessions outlined three big problems with the Gang of Eight bill in his statement: “Immediate amnesty before security, permanent future illegal immigration, and a record surge in legal immigration that will reduce wages and increase unemployment.”  (There’s a fourth problem he forgot to mention, but Senator John Cornyn will be along momentarily to remind us of it.)

The security issue has been much discussed on both sides of the issue, with critics saying the Gang of Eight bill grants far too much discretion to an Administration that has no enthusiasm for improving border security, would never allow security problems to slow down the race to amnesty, and would be unlikely to admit to any such problems in the first place.  The great “surge” of Border Patrol agents is years away, and would not be difficult for the Homeland Security secretary to diminish or halt altogether.  As Sessions noted in his statement, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents have attempted to warn the Senate about these issues.

As for Sessions’ gloomy prediction of “permanent future illegal immigration,” he’s backed up by none other than the Congressional Budget Office, which predicted the Gang of Eight bill would reduce the flow of illegals by a mere 25 percent.  Granted, this analysis was conducted before the Corker-Hoeven amendment added security enhancements, but even if a miracle occurs, future Congresses appropriate the necessary funds, and the Department of Homeland Security actually puts these measures in place, does anyone really believe the efficiency of the Senate bill at reducing illegal immigration would be more than doubled?  Even if it doubled, that would still only get us to a 50 percent reduction, which is not what most Americans have in mind when they think about comprehensive “solutions” to the immigration issue.

And then you’ve got the matter of dramatically increased legal immigration, cited by Sessions as the third undesirable feature of the bill passed by his Senate colleagues on Thursday.  This topic has not been discussed nearly as much as the other two, but it could represent the greatest threat to the American middle class.

As Senator Sessions points out in the video clip below, this new “comprehensive immigration reform bill” adds four times as many guest workers as the previous reform effort in 2007, which couldn’t get past Congress, even though unemployment rates were much lower back then.  Once again citing the Congressional Budget Office report, he shows how the coming surge of low-skill, low-wage legal immigrants – up to 57 million in total, as Sessions has explained at length in the past – will bring average wages down, for at least a dozen years to come.

“There’s benefit to low-income workers,” Sessions allowed.  ”Who gets it?  Companies that hire the most low-income workers.  Those companies will be able to hire more people at lower wages.”  The losers would be just about everyone else.

Personally, I’m not a big fan of using government power to artificially inflate wages… but I’m even less enchanted by government using its power to artificially depress them, by importing a massive population of low-income workers.  Add the legalized aliens and legal immigrants together, and you’re looking at 65 to 70 million of them over the next decade.  In our current economic climate, that’s sheer lunacy.  (I would dearly love to have a climate where it’s not lunacy, but we sure as hell won’t be getting it under Obamanomics, or any other high-tax, high-regulation, high-debt command economy.)

As for the problem Sessions didn’t mention in his statement yesterday, Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) comes out of the bullpen to bat cleanup, and tell us about all the wonderful pork-barrel spending greedy senators stuffed into this “comprehensive immigration reform” package:

“Immigration reform is a nationwide challenge, and immigration reform should promote the national interest – not the special interest of individual Senators or any region or state or lobbying group.

“Supporters of the underlying bill continue to argue that this legislation will actually reduce the federal deficit. It’s a bizarre situation where you can spend almost $50 billion and claim that it actually reduces the deficit, but that’s the argument.

“And yet, as I explained on Monday, the only way you can transform this bill into a deficit reduction bill is by double-counting more than $211 billion worth of Social Security revenue.  In other words, the money paid in, in terms of Social Security taxes, is eventually going to have to be paid out in benefits.

“And you can’t say you’ll pay it out in benefits and then you’ll also use that surplus to fund the underlying bill, because that’s double counting. But only in Washington can you get away with such magical accounting techniques.

“You’re left with a bill that’s chock full of de facto earmarks, pork-barrel spending and special interest sweeteners, a bill that increase the on-budget deficit, but fails to guarantee a border that’s secure and offers only promises, which historically Congress has been very, very, very, very bad about keeping.

I’ve gone over some of those “de facto earmarks” before, but a few new items popped up since then, including the fruits of “aggressive lobbying by resorts, au pair agencies, and other industries that rely on the J-1 cultural-exchange visa program,” as outlined by USA Today.  It seems like everyone except the average American worker, and the poor chumps trying to do the right thing and immigrate legally, has aggressive lobbyists these days.

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