Views on the News – 6/29/2013
By: David Coughlin
The Pew Research Center asked Americans to list their policy priorities for 2013 and huge majorities cited jobs and the economy; sizable majorities cited health care costs and entitlement reform; more modest majorities cited fighting poverty and reforming the tax code; and down at the bottom of the list, with less than 40% support in each case, were gun control, immigration and climate change. The public’s non-priorities look like the entirety of the White House’s second-term agenda. The President’s failed push for background checks has given way to an ongoing push for immigration reform, and the administration is reportedly planning a sweeping regulatory push on carbon emissions this summer. Meanwhile, nobody expects much action on the issues that Americans actually wanted Washington to focus on: tax and entitlement reform have been back-burnered, and the plight of the unemployed seems to have dropped off the D.C. radar screen entirely. The cynical take is that D.C. gridlock has given the political class an excuse to ignore the country’s most pressing problem – a lack of decent jobs at decent wages, with a deeper social crisis at work underneath – and pursue its own pet causes instead. The timing of their elevation looks at best peculiar, at worst perverse. The President decided to make gun control legislation a major second-term priority, with firearm homicides at a 30-year low. Congress is pursuing a sharp increase in low-skilled immigration, when the foreign-born share of the American population is already headed for historical highs. The administration is drawing up major new carbon regulations, when actual existing global warming has been well below projections for 15 years and counting. This disconnect between American policy priorities and Democrat political priorities is the most serious threat to the liberal ascendance.
(“The Great Disconnect” by Ross Douthat dated June 22, 2013 published by The New York Times at http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/23/opinion/sunday/douthat-the-great-disconnect.html?hp )
Scandal stories are all out there, and they’re said to have damaged the government by “eroding” the trust of the American people. The stories are out there: the rapidly rising cost projections for ObamaCare far beyond any promises made to get the bill passed; the Fast and Furious gun running debacle; the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi who died without aid or succor; the IRS targeting of conservative and Tea Party groups; the harassment of journalists at AP and James Rosen of FOX News; and the NSA’s massive overreach in collecting data on anyone who uses a phone, texts a message, e-mails, or surfs the web. Now we have constant reports that the next major piece of legislation, the so-called Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act, has had more flips and flops than a hyperactive chef at IHOP. In each of these examples, the government of the United States has told lies to the citizens who hired it, collectively, to do a job. The job description that government employees were supposed to adhere to, and fulfill, is most commonly called the Constitution of the United States. Those who have actually read the Constitution are fully aware that the government is allowed to do only certain things, and not a single thing beyond that. The Ninth and Tenth Amendments make perfectly clear that there are defined limits to the authority that we have granted to the government. Lying to us is not one of the powers we granted to our federal government back in 1789. Barack Obama actually said: “If People can’t trust us to do our jobs then we are going to have a problem here.” The obvious erosion of trust in government began with the rise of the Tea Parties, the strength of Ron Paul’s libertarian message, and the collapse of confidence among both Democrats and Republicans in the members of their own parties in Congress and the Senate. With each new exposure of corruption, malfeasance, and common garden-variety idiocy, the confidence that Americans have in the people they’ve hired weakens. A recent Rasmussen poll indicates that only one in ten Americans has any faith in Congress. So trust is gone among most voters, even those who drank a lot of Kool-Aid. Once trust is gone, no amount of speeches, promises, grandiose plans for having a debate or a national conversation about the “issues,” or trying to change the subject is going to change the general feeling that is now even obvious to our President — we don’t trust you! Trust, like respect, is never given: it can only be earned. Once that trust is betrayed, it takes a lot longer to rebuild after betrayal that it took to build it. When people don’t trust their government, resistance to government mandates begins to grow. We all know that the government is inefficient, but we used to trust that everyone was paying for that inefficiency equally. So the key answer to the question “Whom can we trust?” is a simple, two-word response: no one!
(“It’s a Question of Trust” by Jim Yardley dated June 22, 2013 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2013/06/its_a_question_of_trust.html )
Obama has solidified his position as the World’s Greatest Liar with his statements about climate change, aka global warming, which he called “the global threat of our time.” Obama continues to conjure up global warming despite overwhelming evidence that it does not exist. Dubbed “climategate,” revelations in 2009 made clear that a small group within the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) were deliberately falsifying their climate models. There is nothing that humans can or should do regarding the Earth’s climate. He has called for renewable energy, energy conservation, and a “carbon tax” on carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions as a danger to human life and a threat to global economic development. There has been no warming for almost seventeen years. The Earth is in a natural cooling cycle as the result of another natural cycle, the reduction of the Sun’s radiation that warms the Earth. Obama’s promise of change has reduced America’s standing in the world as the protector of peace and his decisions have helped advance the spread of the Islamic jihad. It has produced a war on coal, the energy resource that, prior to his taking office, provided 50% of all the electricity Americans use every day. It has reduced access to oil and natural gas on federal lands. Obama will pursue more action in the name of climate change in the form of more regulation of power plants, new subsidies for so-called clean energy, and other big, futile, farcical, and costly government programs. His new executive orders are to implement “climate change” mandates in the face of congressional resistance. He says it will be “my vision for where I believe we need to go—a national plan to reduce carbon pollution, prepare our country for the impacts of climate change, and lead global efforts to fight it.” Carbon dioxide is not “pollution”; it is, along with oxygen, the other gas most vital to all life on Earth.
(“Obama’s Enormous Climate Lies” by Alan Caruba dated June 23, 2013 published by Canada Free Press at http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/56080 )
Not yet six months into his second term, Barack Obama’s Presidency is in a dead zone. A combination of familiar Washington intransigence and a more recent run of bad news and political setbacks have left him with less influence over his circumstances, and more buffeted by factors beyond his control, than at any time in his five years in office. In a damning appraisal, a wide variety of congressional Democrats and presidential scholars said that there is another decisive factor behind Obama’s current paralysis: his own failure to use the traditional tools of the presidency to exert his will. Obama does not instill fear – one of the customary instruments of presidential power. Five years of experience, say lawmakers of both parties, have demonstrated that there is not a huge political or personal cost to be paid for crossing the president. Obama cannot count on friendship. There are plenty of politicians, who would love the political and psychic benefits of favored status from the president, but Obama’s distant style and his insular West Wing operation have left congressional Democrats resigned, many said in interviews, to the reality that they will never be insiders and, therefore, have no special incentives to stay on Obama’s good side. Obama is not buoyed by the power of ideas. Obama remains known for a personal brand rather than an ideological one – a status that has not helped much when he is looking for friends in a storm, such as the recent uproars over alleged politicization at the Internal Revenue Service and National Security Agency surveillance. Finally, Obama is standing in a presidential pulpit that recently has proved to be the opposite of bully. So far in 2013, he has tried to harness public opinion to bring Congress to heel on both the budget sequestration and gun control debates. In both cases, Republicans, and in key instances, moderate Democrats, shrugged it off with apparent impunity. Obama uses a more indirect method of gaining support, different from Presidents in the past. President Obama operates from a different premise that he operates from the idea that he’s making the case to the American people, and the American people have to get their representative to support his programs and his legislative efforts. This has been the theory behind repeated Obama efforts to take his case to the public. There is growing evidence, however, that Obama’s silver tongue, his public eloquence was what first launched him from Illinois obscurity to national fame in 2004, is a currency with depreciating value. It did not work to pass gun control, even in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre in Connecticut. If the President goes out and barnstorms, it works politically for that member to vote against the president, but in Obama’s case it has the opposite effect.” The challenge for Obama, whose fortunes have scarcely sunk so low as many of his predecessors, is that there is not an abundance of obvious paths for him to replenish his agenda-setting power.
(“Obama in the doldrums” by John P. Harris, Jake Sherman, and Elizabeth Titus dated June 24, 2013 published by Politico at http://www.politico.com/story/2013/06/obama-second-term-doldrums-93295.html?hp=t1_3 )
More than any other nation in history, the United States has offered immigrants a new home, but over the past several decades, immigration policy has become confused, unfocused, and dysfunctional. Millions of people who broke U.S. law to live in America make a mockery of the legal naturalization process. Continued large-scale legal immigration without effective assimilation threatens social cohesion and America’s civic culture and common identity. Amnesty was tried in 1986 and it failed. Instead of repeating the mistakes of the past, the U.S. should implement reforms that encourage lawful immigration, discourage unlawful immigration, and uphold America’s principles. In April, the Senate introduced the misnamed Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act. The immigration act is an amnesty bill that fails to address the intricacies of America’s immigration challenges, imposes exorbitant costs on taxpayers, and is filled with political trade-offs and policies that merely encourage additional illegal immigration. Not only does the legislation fail to address the intricacies of America’s immigration challenges by trying to solve everything in one colossal bill, it also imposes exorbitant costs and is full of political trade-offs and misguided policies. Here are the top 10 concerns:
· Amnesty - Amnesty comes in many forms, but in all of its variations it discourages respect for the law, treats law-breaking aliens better than law-following aliens, and encourages future unlawful immigration into the United States. The message of amnesty is: When a group of people who have violated the law grows too big to prosecute, the U.S. will simply change the law to accommodate them. A pardon of intentional violation of law also undermines the rule of law, particularly since it would be the second blanket amnesty in about a quarter century.
· Border Security “Triggers” – In 1986, Congress promised the American people enhanced border security in exchange for amnesty. This improved security largely never came to fruition. The DHS has been trying unsuccessfully to define credible metrics for border security since 2004. Even if it had effective triggers, they do not guarantee a secure border. This bill lavishes billions of additional spending on the DHS with no clear requirements on how the money is to be spent.
· Cost to Taxpayers - Most unlawful immigrants consume more in government benefits than they pay in taxes. Current unlawful immigrants receive public education for their children and services at the state and local levels, such as policing, fire protection, road use, and sewer maintenance. Roughly half of illegal immigrants have minor children who were born in the U.S. These children are eligible for nearly all federal means-tested welfare programs including food stamps, Medicaid, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Specifically, S. 744 would immediately provide immigrants with access to cash welfare benefits through the refundable earned income tax credit (EITC) and related additional child tax credits (ACTC).
· Open Season on Spending - This bill would provide the Secretary of Homeland Security with extensive new spending authority. This is in addition to ballooning spending on welfare, entitlement, and other public benefits for those granted amnesty. The bill also includes opaque spending measures with no clear limits including funding for the new Office of Citizenship and New Americans, free cell phones for those who live or work near the border, and undefined and obscure “grant programs” within the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that fund public or private nonprofit organizations to assist amnesty applicants.
· Expansion of Government Bureaucracy - This bill would substantially expand government bureaucracy, creating several new offices, task forces, and commissions including: the Southern Border Security Commission, the Department of Homeland Security Border Oversight Task Force; the Task Force on New Americans; the Joint Employment Fraud Task Force; and the Bureau of Immigration and Labor Market Research.
· Loopholes and Ambiguity - At more than 1,200 pages, it should come as little surprise that this bill is laced with trade-offs and ambiguity. By delegating much of Congress’s responsibility to secure the U.S. borders and control immigration to the executive branch and unelected bureaucrats, this legislation would make a challenging issue worse. Congress grants unprecedented discretionary and regulatory powers over immigration to the Department of Homeland Security.
· Fails on Lawful Immigration Reform - Going through the legal immigration system is a difficult and time-consuming process; many waiting years to receive a visa to the U.S. An estimated 4.4 million individuals are currently in line to come through the U.S. immigration system, some waiting 24 years. The current immigration system is slow and overly complex, yet this bill will thrust millions of additional people on the system by granting amnesty to those who are in the U.S. unlawfully, and requiring USCIS to first clear the backlog of those waiting to enter the country.
· Disregard for Federalism - The Founders felt that states fostered the best-equipped individuals to represent the interests of public safety on behalf of their own citizens. Many legal experts believe that state and local governments retain inherent authority to enforce federal civil law. With fewer than 6,000 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, failing to use the one million state and local law enforcement personnel to supplement federal personnel makes little sense.
· Special Interests and Earmarks - Among the many dangers of working on comprehensive pieces of legislation is the propensity for earmarks and unique carve-outs for special interests groups. There are several special-interest considerations that reveal not only the cronyism involved in the government process, but also how Congress picks winners and losers by determining who receives money and who does not.
· Fails on Assimilation and Opportunity - The Senate immigration reform bill only makes the problem worse and foster greater dependence on government, particularly among new immigrants and amnesty recipients. This bill does nothing to correct the U.S. serious entitlement problems. There is nothing in the bill that reforms the broken entitlement system and creates a system of earned success.
The U.S. immigration system is in need of significant reform, but this bill relies on old, flawed solutions that will do nothing but make the current situation worse. Instead of passing this deeply flawed immigration bill Congress should:
· Reject amnesty. Instead of another costly and unfair mass amnesty, Congress should develop fair, compassionate, and practical solutions for unlawful immigrants.
· Take a piece-by-piece approach. Legal immigration, temporary worker programs, interior enforcement, border security, state and local cooperation, and many other important issues all deserve close inspection and rigorous debate. Tackling each of these policies one at a time will give each the attention it deserves, and foster meaningful reform.
· Enhance border security. The U.S. has dramatically increased the number of border agents over the past decade, but more needs to be done. Through the use of technologies like unmanned aerial vehicles and cameras and sensors, the Border Patrol will be better able to monitor the border, detect and halt illegal border crossings, and better protect U.S. sovereignty.
· Reform the legal immigration system. The U.S. legal immigration system should be fixed to ensure that those who want to come to the U.S. legally can do so in a reasonable and efficient manner.
· Make immigration more responsive to the economy. In addition to an improved legal immigration system, the U.S. should seek to foster a focused temporary worker program tied to market and workforce needs that would provide a rotating, temporary workforce.
· Reinvigorate interior enforcement measures. Interior enforcement measures and programs such as Social Security No Match, random workplace inspections, checks of I-9 forms, and E-Verify help to depress the use of illegal labor and make it clear that the U.S. takes enforcement of its immigration laws seriously.
· Recognize state and local authorities as responsible partners. Allow Immigration and Customs Enforcement to train state and local police to enforce federal immigration laws, state and local authorities can enhance enforcement.
U.S. coins bear the phrase “E pluribus unum”—“out of many, one”—to signify the varied backgrounds of those who came together to make this country great. The Senate’s misnamed bill tramples on the principles that formed this country it is today by disregarding the rule of law, increasing the size of government yet more, and allowing unlawful immigrants to fall into government dependence. Instead of repeating the mistakes of the past, the U.S. should implement reforms that encourage lawful immigration, discourage unlawful immigration, and uphold America’s first principles.
(“The Senate’s Comprehensive Immigration Bill: Top 10 Concerns” by dated June 21, 2013 published by The Heritage Foundation at http://blog.heritage.org/2013/06/24/morning-bell-10-problems-with-the-gang-of-eight-immigration-bill/ )
David Coughlin is a political pundit, editor of the policy action planning web site “Return to Common Sense,” and an active member of the White Plains Tea Party. He retired from IBM after a short career in the U.S. Army. He currently resides with his wife of 40 years in Hawthorne, NY. He was educated at West Point (Bachelor of Science, 1971) and the University of Alabama in Huntsville (Masters, Administrative Science, 1976).