THE GRIFTERS: Yes, It’s Satisfying To See A True Scumbag Like Price “Outed!” But, Before You Get Too Excited, Remember That His Replacement “will serve at the altar of Trump, after all. The only requirement? Destroy what you can. Let everyone else suffer.”

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/sep/30/tom-price-resignation-victory?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

Ross Barkin writes in the Guardian:

“The sad truth is that Trump will probably replace him with a health and human services secretary who is just as bad at the job
For the Trump skeptics, the full-blown resisters, and everyone who prefers to see government remotely good, the downfall of Tom Price was a moment of true catharsis.

Donald Trump’s loathsome health and human services secretary was driven from office on Friday after a series of stunning Politico reports detailed how he racked up at least $400,000 in travel bills for charter flights. The extravagance was too much even for Trump, who in his past life as a failed developer wasted plenty of taxpayer money, and Price was told he had to go.

Before sobering reality sets in – nothing has really changed about Trumplandia – let’s remember all the ways Price represented the worst of the worst about Trump’s storming of Washington.

Tom Price resigns as health secretary over private flights and Trump criticism
A former rightwing congressman from Georgia and an orthopedic surgeon, Price spent most of his House tenure trying to destroy Obamacare and replace it with something far more draconian.
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As health and human services secretary, his dream fully realized, Price set about trying to undermine American healthcare as much as humanly possible without achieving a repeal of Obamacare. Price stopped trying to encourage people to sign up for insurance, ensuring costs would rise for everyone else. He obliterated Obamacare’s advertising budget.

Price backed a Trump budget that slashes funding for health and human services, the National Institutes of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. His vision of healthcare was rather simple: get any trace of the government out of there, any protections that might be offered for the poorest and sickest. Let the free market take care of the rest.

Now Trump will cast about for a worthy successor. Price, a multimillionaire, will feel shame for a few days and then go back to cashing out in the private sector, maybe as a healthcare lobbyist trying to wrangle goodies from his old colleagues. The waterline of the swamp will rise.

Health secretary Tom Price apologizes for taking private flights for work
The real question, once the celebration dies down from liberals and various journalists heartened by the power of the press to get their scalp, is how anything will change in Trump’s Washington.

Will a new HHS secretary bring some common sense to the role and realize stabilizing the healthcare markets is their chief job? Will he or she attempt to be anything resembling an administrator? Probably not.

Despite the conventional wisdom that Trump is a gun-slinging independent beholden to no party, he is fully indoctrinated in far-right, slash-and-burn thinking. He is a president for nihilist billionaires and Milton Friedman apostles. He will lurch to the left, but his grounding will stay true. We know that from his tax plan, which promises to give relief to the rich and no one else.

In another time now lost to history, both parties paid allegiance to the idea of governing. Democrats, in the post Franklin D Roosevelt-era, were the party of large, activist government, but Republicans understood that dismantling what they inherited made no sense.

Richard Nixon preserved the gains of Lyndon Johnson’s civil rights and Great Society legislation. Medicare and Medicaid remained.
Under a moderate Republican president – almost no moderates actually ran for president in 2016, and it’s increasingly unclear such a creature even exists – Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act would be understood for what it is: not socialism, but a mixture of government intervention and market-driven policies dreamed up by the rightwing Heritage Foundation and later pioneered by a Republican governor, Mitt Romney.

It is nothing approximating single-payer healthcare. It’s a start – but it’s also plenty flawed.

Many marketplaces are succeeding, but others are failing, in part because the Trump White House is encouraging their failure. The next best thing to repealing Obamacare, for the Republican party, is to let it rot without serious reform.

Federal subsidies must be increased and a public option should be introduced to compete with private insurers. The long-term goal, championed by Bernie Sanders, should be Medicare-for-all, universal healthcare, though we’re not there yet.
Price’s successor probably won’t think about any of these things. He or she will serve at the altar of the Trump, after all. The only requirement? Destroy what you can. Let everyone else suffer.”

*********************************

Why wouldn’t Price, who ripped off taxpayers to the tune of approximately $1 million, face some consequences beyond being permitted to resign?

Also, Donald Trump is not “destroying the soul of the GOP” (an oxymoron if I’ve ever heard one). The modern GOP stands for the same corrupt agenda as Trump. That’s why they never really stand up to him. And, Tom Price, a Swamp Creature if  there ever was one, was a perfect representative of everything that is wrong with today’s GOP.

And with a truly miserable specimen of a human being like “Ayatollah Roy” and a slate of Bannon-inspired scummy White Nationalist candidates in the wings, the GOP has by no means “bottomed out.” The worst is yet to come.

PWS

10-01-17

 

 

THE GRIFTERS: Party Of Liars — GOP Tax Plan Proposes To Loot America For the Rich, Limit Government Services For Everyone Else, & Leave Future Generations To Pay The Price — Not Surprisingly, They Lie About It And Assume That Non-Fat-Cat Supporters Are Too Dumb Or Biased to Figure It Out! — Fact Checker Gives GOP Politicos Coveted “Four Pinocchios!”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2017/09/29/trump-aides-sell-tax-plan-with-pinocchio-laden-claims/

Glenn Kessler writes for the “Fact Checker” in the Washington Post.

The wealthy are not getting a tax cut under our plan.”
— Gary Cohn, director of the White House Economic Council, in an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Sept. 28, 2017

“The numbers are about a trillion and a half to the baseline. But more importantly, it’s a trillion dollars to policy, which is the right way of looking at it. We think there will be $2 trillion of growth. So we think this tax plan will cut down the deficits by a trillion dollars.”
— Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, in an interview on Fox News, Sept. 28

In selling President Trump’s tax plan, his aides have resorted to making strikingly misleading statements to defend it.

At the moment, there are few details about the tax plan, only broad strokes. That makes it easier for the administration to make big claims as analysts scramble to try to make sense of the plan’s possible impact. That will be much harder once an actual tax bill is written and the details can be analyzed in depth.

In the meantime, we have a pair of Four-Pinocchio claims that are worth highlighting.

 

‘The wealthy are not getting a tax cut under our plan’

The Trump tax plan drops the top bracket from 39.6 to 35 percent, and allows for the possibility of a 25 percent top rate through a pass-through entity. It presumably would also eliminate a 3.8 percent Obamacare tax on investment income that hits only upper-income taxpayers.

So, on its face, this is a ridiculous statement to make for any plan that includes reductions in tax rates. That’s because federal income taxes are paid mostly by the wealthy. So when you cut income tax rates, it results in lots of dollars for the wealthiest taxpayers.

According to Treasury Department data, the top 10 percent of income earners in 2016 paid 80 percent of individual income taxes. The top 20 percent paid 94.8 percent. The top 0.1 percent paid an astonishing 24.5 percent of taxes.

In 2014, the latest year Internal Revenue Service data is available, just the top 400 taxpayers — with $127 billion of income — paid $29.4 billion in income taxes, or more than 2 percent of all income taxes. That’s more than the bottom 70 percent of taxpayers combined.

 

In other words, the vast majority of American taxpayers pay little or nothing in income taxes; they instead mostly pay payroll taxes such as Social Security and Medicare. So it really strains credulity for administration officials such as Cohn to say the wealthy will not get a tax cut.

The wealthy pay most of the taxes, so unless the tax plan specifically leaves them untouched — which Trump’s plan does not — they will get big tax cuts. This is why distributional tables often look so lopsided when tax rates are reduced. The administration has suggested that another, higher rate level might be added, presumably so the distributional tables won’t look so ugly, but right now the plan calls for a significant reduction in the top rate.

Besides a reduction in the top tax rate, the tax plan would eliminate the alternative minimum tax (AMT). That in theory should be a boon for the wealthy as well, although it increasingly has snared families in the upper middle class, especially if they live in high-tax states or have many children.

 

The administration has called for eliminating the itemized deduction for state and local taxes, as well as the personal/dependent exemptions, which are key add-ons when calculating the AMT. (If those items were eliminated from the AMT, the number of tax filers facing the AMT would drop by 95 percent, according to the Joint Committee of Taxation.)

So it’s possible that for many people it would be a wash, or even a net loser, depending on whether a tax filer lives in a state with high taxes. According to JCT, the AMT is paid by 36 percent of returns with income of between $200,000 and $500,000, nearly 55 percent between $500,000 and $1 million, and nearly 18 percent above $1 million.

Still, in 2014, the top 400 taxpayers paid nearly $700 million because of the alternative minimum tax, nearly 2.5 percent of the total. The one recent tax return of President Trump that has leaked — for 2005 — shows his tax bill increased $31 million because of the AMT.

Finally, the tax plan calls for eliminating the estate tax, although it is unclear on whether any tax would be required when someone dies. Currently, the estate tax is estimated to affect only about 5,500 estates out of nearly 3 million estates because as much as $11 million can be shielded from taxation.

 

In theory, assets would be subject to capital gains tax instead, which could actually affect more people, but that has not been specified in the administration’s tax outline. If the administration also eliminates the gift tax and does not tax capital gains at death, some income earned by the wealthy may never be taxed.

“We strongly believe the final tax bill will not cut taxes for the wealthy as a class — but there is no way to solve for every single individual in the country,” a White House official said.

‘We think this tax plan will cut down the deficits by a trillion dollars’

Mnuchin made this statement in response to an observation that the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget has estimated the tax plan would reduce revenue by $2.2 trillion over 10 years. (Including additional interest on the debt, CRFB estimated the deficit would increase by $2.7 trillion.) He argued that instead there would be an additional $2 trillion in revenue from economic growth, resulting in a $1 trillion reduction in the deficit.

Cohn, briefing reporters at the White House a few hours later, offered a different estimate: “We know that 1 percent change in GDP will add $3 trillion back. So if they’re right, we’re only going to pay down $800 billion of the deficit. I’ll live with a $800 billion paydown.”

It’s a little odd that Mnuchin is anticipating $2 trillion in revenue and Cohn is anticipating $3 trillion in revenue. But these are both very rosy estimates of the impact of a tax cut in economic growth. No serious economist believes that a tax cut boosts economic growth so much that the tax cut pays for itself.

The Congressional Budget Office, under Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a Republican, in 2005 estimated that a 10 percent reduction in federal income tax rates would have macroeconomic feedbacks of between 15 and 30 percent. In other words, a $1 trillion tax cut might yield $150 billion to $300 billion in additional revenue. That still means a reduction in revenue of as much as $700 billion.

“The big problem is that there is no fully specified plan,” Holtz-Eakin said. “Without one, you can’t gauge the growth or know the budget cost. I’m broadly sympathetic to the framework, but it is a start, not the finish.”

As Holtz-Eakin put it earlier this year in an opinion column for The Washington Post: “Proposing trillions of dollars in tax cuts and then casually asserting that such a plan would ‘pay for itself with growth’ … is detached from empirical reality.”

Indeed, contrary to popular perception, even Ronald Reagan predicted revenue would fall as a result of his big 1981 tax cut that reduced tax rates. That is shown in Reagan administration and Congressional Budget Office scores of the Reagan tax plan reproduced in a 2011 article for Tax Notes by Bruce Bartlett, who helped craft the 1981 tax cut as a congressional aide at the time. The estimates turned out to be wrong because the 1981-1982 recession was deeper than expected and inflation fell more rapidly than expected, so Reagan boosted taxes just one year after his tax cut.

William A. Niskanen, chairman of Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisors, co-wrote a paper in 1996 that defended Reagan’s economic record but also said it was “an enduring myth” that Reagan officials believed tax cuts would pay for themselves. “This was nonsense from day one, because the credible evidence overwhelmingly indicates that revenue feedbacks from tax cuts is 35 cents per dollar, at most,” Niskanen wrote, noting that “the Reagan administration never assumed that the tax cuts would pay for themselves.”

A Treasury Department study on the impact of tax bills since 1940, first released in 2006 and later updated, found that the 1981 tax cut reduced revenue by $208 billion in its first four years. George W. Bush’s 2001 tax cut — also a rate cut — led to a revenue loss of $91 billion, over four years, the Treasury paper calculated. (The figures are rendered in constant 2012 dollars.)

Both the Reagan and Bush tax cuts came during periods of economic stress, which is certainly not the case now. So there is less room now for a big swing upward in the economy, especially with the country’s aging workforce.

The Treasury Department did not respond to a query for an explanation of Mnuchin’s math. But frankly it is irresponsible for a treasury secretary to claim a certain amount of growth or revenue without even producing the details of a plan, as the details determine the impact on the economy.

The Pinocchio Test

Though the details of the tax plan are sparse, both Cohn and Mnuchin made statements that are simply false. Of course the wealthy will do well under the tax cut, even if certain deductions are eliminated, and it’s silly to pretend otherwise. And it’s a fantasy to claim that the tax cut will pay for itself — and even reduce the deficit — especially in an economy that already has low unemployment and a booming stock market.

Four 🤥

The wealthy are not getting a tax cut under our plan.”
— Gary Cohn, director of the White House Economic Council, in an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Sept. 28, 2017

“The numbers are about a trillion and a half to the baseline. But more importantly, it’s a trillion dollars to policy, which is the right way of looking at it. We think there will be $2 trillion of growth. So we think this tax plan will cut down the deficits by a trillion dollars.”
— Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, in an interview on Fox News, Sept. 28

In selling President Trump’s tax plan, his aides have resorted to making strikingly misleading statements to defend it.

At the moment, there are few details about the tax plan, only broad strokes. That makes it easier for the administration to make big claims as analysts scramble to try to make sense of the plan’s possible impact. That will be much harder once an actual tax bill is written and the details can be analyzed in depth.

In the meantime, we have a pair of Four-Pinocchio claims that are worth highlighting.

 

‘The wealthy are not getting a tax cut under our plan’

The Trump tax plan drops the top bracket from 39.6 to 35 percent, and allows for the possibility of a 25 percent top rate through a pass-through entity. It presumably would also eliminate a 3.8 percent Obamacare tax on investment income that hits only upper-income taxpayers.

So, on its face, this is a ridiculous statement to make for any plan that includes reductions in tax rates. That’s because federal income taxes are paid mostly by the wealthy. So when you cut income tax rates, it results in lots of dollars for the wealthiest taxpayers.

According to Treasury Department data, the top 10 percent of income earners in 2016 paid 80 percent of individual income taxes. The top 20 percent paid 94.8 percent. The top 0.1 percent paid an astonishing 24.5 percent of taxes.

In 2014, the latest year Internal Revenue Service data is available, just the top 400 taxpayers — with $127 billion of income — paid $29.4 billion in income taxes, or more than 2 percent of all income taxes. That’s more than the bottom 70 percent of taxpayers combined.

 

In other words, the vast majority of American taxpayers pay little or nothing in income taxes; they instead mostly pay payroll taxes such as Social Security and Medicare. So it really strains credulity for administration officials such as Cohn to say the wealthy will not get a tax cut.

The wealthy pay most of the taxes, so unless the tax plan specifically leaves them untouched — which Trump’s plan does not — they will get big tax cuts. This is why distributional tables often look so lopsided when tax rates are reduced. The administration has suggested that another, higher rate level might be added, presumably so the distributional tables won’t look so ugly, but right now the plan calls for a significant reduction in the top rate.

Besides a reduction in the top tax rate, the tax plan would eliminate the alternative minimum tax (AMT). That in theory should be a boon for the wealthy as well, although it increasingly has snared families in the upper middle class, especially if they live in high-tax states or have many children.

 

The administration has called for eliminating the itemized deduction for state and local taxes, as well as the personal/dependent exemptions, which are key add-ons when calculating the AMT. (If those items were eliminated from the AMT, the number of tax filers facing the AMT would drop by 95 percent, according to the Joint Committee of Taxation.)

So it’s possible that for many people it would be a wash, or even a net loser, depending on whether a tax filer lives in a state with high taxes. According to JCT, the AMT is paid by 36 percent of returns with income of between $200,000 and $500,000, nearly 55 percent between $500,000 and $1 million, and nearly 18 percent above $1 million.

Still, in 2014, the top 400 taxpayers paid nearly $700 million because of the alternative minimum tax, nearly 2.5 percent of the total. The one recent tax return of President Trump that has leaked — for 2005 — shows his tax bill increased $31 million because of the AMT.

Finally, the tax plan calls for eliminating the estate tax, although it is unclear on whether any tax would be required when someone dies. Currently, the estate tax is estimated to affect only about 5,500 estates out of nearly 3 million estates because as much as $11 million can be shielded from taxation.

 

In theory, assets would be subject to capital gains tax instead, which could actually affect more people, but that has not been specified in the administration’s tax outline. If the administration also eliminates the gift tax and does not tax capital gains at death, some income earned by the wealthy may never be taxed.

“We strongly believe the final tax bill will not cut taxes for the wealthy as a class — but there is no way to solve for every single individual in the country,” a White House official said.

‘We think this tax plan will cut down the deficits by a trillion dollars’

Mnuchin made this statement in response to an observation that the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget has estimated the tax plan would reduce revenue by $2.2 trillion over 10 years. (Including additional interest on the debt, CRFB estimated the deficit would increase by $2.7 trillion.) He argued that instead there would be an additional $2 trillion in revenue from economic growth, resulting in a $1 trillion reduction in the deficit.

Cohn, briefing reporters at the White House a few hours later, offered a different estimate: “We know that 1 percent change in GDP will add $3 trillion back. So if they’re right, we’re only going to pay down $800 billion of the deficit. I’ll live with a $800 billion paydown.”

It’s a little odd that Mnuchin is anticipating $2 trillion in revenue and Cohn is anticipating $3 trillion in revenue. But these are both very rosy estimates of the impact of a tax cut in economic growth. No serious economist believes that a tax cut boosts economic growth so much that the tax cut pays for itself.

The Congressional Budget Office, under Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a Republican, in 2005 estimated that a 10 percent reduction in federal income tax rates would have macroeconomic feedbacks of between 15 and 30 percent. In other words, a $1 trillion tax cut might yield $150 billion to $300 billion in additional revenue. That still means a reduction in revenue of as much as $700 billion.

“The big problem is that there is no fully specified plan,” Holtz-Eakin said. “Without one, you can’t gauge the growth or know the budget cost. I’m broadly sympathetic to the framework, but it is a start, not the finish.”

As Holtz-Eakin put it earlier this year in an opinion column for The Washington Post: “Proposing trillions of dollars in tax cuts and then casually asserting that such a plan would ‘pay for itself with growth’ … is detached from empirical reality.”

Indeed, contrary to popular perception, even Ronald Reagan predicted revenue would fall as a result of his big 1981 tax cut that reduced tax rates. That is shown in Reagan administration and Congressional Budget Office scores of the Reagan tax plan reproduced in a 2011 article for Tax Notes by Bruce Bartlett, who helped craft the 1981 tax cut as a congressional aide at the time. The estimates turned out to be wrong because the 1981-1982 recession was deeper than expected and inflation fell more rapidly than expected, so Reagan boosted taxes just one year after his tax cut.

William A. Niskanen, chairman of Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisors, co-wrote a paper in 1996 that defended Reagan’s economic record but also said it was “an enduring myth” that Reagan officials believed tax cuts would pay for themselves. “This was nonsense from day one, because the credible evidence overwhelmingly indicates that revenue feedbacks from tax cuts is 35 cents per dollar, at most,” Niskanen wrote, noting that “the Reagan administration never assumed that the tax cuts would pay for themselves.”

A Treasury Department study on the impact of tax bills since 1940, first released in 2006 and later updated, found that the 1981 tax cut reduced revenue by $208 billion in its first four years. George W. Bush’s 2001 tax cut — also a rate cut — led to a revenue loss of $91 billion, over four years, the Treasury paper calculated. (The figures are rendered in constant 2012 dollars.)

Both the Reagan and Bush tax cuts came during periods of economic stress, which is certainly not the case now. So there is less room now for a big swing upward in the economy, especially with the country’s aging workforce.

The Treasury Department did not respond to a query for an explanation of Mnuchin’s math. But frankly it is irresponsible for a treasury secretary to claim a certain amount of growth or revenue without even producing the details of a plan, as the details determine the impact on the economy.

The Pinocchio Test

Though the details of the tax plan are sparse, both Cohn and Mnuchin made statements that are simply false. Of course the wealthy will do well under the tax cut, even if certain deductions are eliminated, and it’s silly to pretend otherwise. And it’s a fantasy to claim that the tax cut will pay for itself — and even reduce the deficit — especially in an economy that already has low unemployment and a booming stock market.

Four 🤥 🤥 🤥 🤥

********************************************

Four Pinocchios is getting into “Jeff Sessions’s territory!”

But, I can see that they were richly deserved. I watched Steve “Munchkin” Mnuchkin on “Meet the Press” with Churck Todd this AM.  It was appalling!

Munchkin lied about Puerto Rico, lied about the tax plan, and then lied and tried to cover up his own responsibility for trying to get a “freebie” at taxpayer expense for his honeymoon. The idea that there was any “national security” reason for the Munchkin keeping in touch with the White House is preposterous.

Indeed the very idea that Munchkin would have any role in national security other than making sure the checks don’t bounce is prima facie ridiculous. And, if he did, that’s what secure facilities in the CIA part of the nearest U.S. Embassy are for. Or for that matter, that’s what subordinates in the Trasure Department are for. Gotta believe that every once and awhile spooks have to make secure communications with Washington.

When confronted by Todd with his obvious lies and cover-ups, Munchkin just kept on spewing whoppers. Finally, Todd gave up, thanked him, and let the record speak for itself.

PWS

10-01-17

 

 

“Warren Buffett on Immigration Reform: Buffett feels that immigrants (including undocumented ones) have been and continue to be a key part of our prosperity — not a part of the problem.“

https://www.fool.com/investing/2017/09/29/warren-buffett-on-immigration-reform.aspx

Matthew Frankel reports for The Motley Fool:

“Immigration reform has been a hot-button issue long before President Trump pledged to build a wall along our border. And while there’s certainly an argument to be made that we need to do a better job of controlling illegal immigration, there’s also a strong case to be made that immigrants are a big driving force behind America’s growth — past, present, and future.

Warren Buffett has been very outspoken in recent years about America and its amazing economic story. Not only does Buffett feel that immigrants have led us to where we are today, but he also thinks that immigrants are an essential component of our country’s future success.

Here’s what Warren Buffett thinks of immigrants
In a nutshell, Buffett feels that immigrants (including undocumented ones) have been and continue to be a key part of our prosperity — not a part of the problem. “This country has been blessed by immigrants,” Buffett said in February at Columbia University. “You can take them from any country you want, and they’ve come here and they found something that unleashed the potential that the place that they left did not, and we’re the product of it.”

Referring to Albert Einstein and Leo Szilard, both of whom were immigrants themselves, Buffett said, “If it hadn’t been for those two immigrants, who knows whether we’d be sitting in this room.”

In his most recent letter to Berkshire Hathaway’s (NYSE:BRK-A) (NYSE:BRK-B) shareholders, Buffett specifically mentioned immigrants as one of the major components of America’s success story. “From a standing start 240 years ago — a span of time less than triple my days on earth — Americans have combined human ingenuity, a market system, a tide of talented and ambitious immigrants, and the rule of law to deliver abundance beyond any dreams of our forefathers.”

On a pathway to citizenship
Buffett is an outspoken Democrat who actively campaigned for Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential race. So it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that Buffett doesn’t want to deport millions of illegal immigrants who are currently in the United States.

In a 2015 interview with Fox Business, Buffett said

People should be able to earn citizenship who are here. You know, I do not think we should deport millions of people. So, I think we should have a real path to citizenship.

Buffett was then asked specifically about the DREAM Act and its 800,000 minors who are in the country illegally and now face an uncertain future after the end of DACA, from the perspective of a successful American businessman. Buffett replied:

It is a question of being a human being not really a businessman. Immigrants came, our forefathers came as immigrants, they got here anyway they could. And who knows what I would have done if I were in some terrible situation in a country and wanted to come here…a great percentage of them are good citizens. I would have a path to citizenship for them, I would not send them back.

 

On immigration policy and reform
As we all know, the immigration debate has been going on for a long time. And Buffett’s stance hasn’t changed much over the past several years. In a 2013 interview with ABC’s This Week, Buffett said:

I think we should have a more logical immigration policy. It would mean we would attract a lot of people, but we would attract the people we want to attract in particular — in terms of education, tens or hundreds of thousands of people. We enhance their talents and have them stick around here.

Buffett went on to say that any reform package should “certainly offer [undocumented immigrants] the chance to become citizens,” and one main reason for doing so would be to deepen the talent pool of the labor force.

Buffett’s stance on immigration in a nutshell
Warren Buffett believes that allowing immigrants who are already in the country to stay and pursue citizenship is not only the right thing to do, but is essential to America’s continued economic prosperity. Buffett certainly sees the need for immigration reform, as most Americans of all political affiliations do, but wants to encourage and simplify the legal pathways to immigration.”

******************************************

Buffet speaks simple truth: Immigrants, both documented and undocumented are not threats, but rather are a necessary ingredient for America’s greatness. We need to bring law-abiding undocumented individuals into our society in some type of legal, work authorized status. We also need substantial across the board increases in legal immigration, so that in the future the immigrants we need can come through the legal system (or wait in a realistic line) rather than coming through an underground system and working and living in the shadows.

The lies, misrepresentations, and false narratives being peddled by Trump, Sessions, Bannon, Miller, Kobach, Cotton, Perdue, King, Goodlatte, Labrador, the so called “Freedom” Caucus, and the rest of their White Nationalist restrictionist cronies are a path to national disaster. Removing existing non-criminal migrants who happen to be working here in undocumented status is a colossal waste of limited Government resources that actually hurts our country in numerous ways.

Time to stand up against the restrictionist, White Nationalist, xenophobic, anti-American blather. Demand that your Congressional representatives back sane, humane immigration reform that takes care of those already here and recognizes their great contributions while appropriately and significantly expanding future legal immigration opportunities so that we don’t keep repreating our mistakes over and over.

Let’s be honest about it. If the time, money, and resources that the U.S. Government is currently spending on the counterproductive aspects of immigration enforcement and inhumane immigration detention were shifted into constructive areas, there would be no “disaster relief crisis” in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands right now, and we’d have more money to spend on heath care, job training and retraining, infrastructure, addressing the opioid crisis, and many more legitimate national priorities!

PWS

09-30-17

INSTEAD OF DOUBLING DOWN ON FAILED POLICIES, SESSIONS SHOULD TRY ANTI-GANG STRATEGIES THAT ACTUALLY WORK!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/28/opinion/sunday/trump-gangs-soccer-education.html

Lauren Markham writes in the NY Times:

“SundayReview | OPINION

The Wrong Way to Fight Gangs
By LAUREN MARKHAMSEPT. 28, 2017

Lester, who is among the recent Central American students at Oakland International High School who crossed into the US, during soccer practice for the Soccer Without Borders program. Credit Monica Almeida/The New York Times
Oakland, Calif. — Young migrants from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador come to this country fleeing violence and lives that are often dictated by savage gangs. It’s expensive to get here. They often arrive with thousands of dollars of high-interest debt and little or no English skills. And they face an administration that insists that they are gangsters bringing bloodshed and gang warfare to American cities.

In fact, these young people are often fleeing gangs. And the challenges they face in the United States make them particularly vulnerable for recruitment into the same violent gangs they left home to escape.

“They have transformed peaceful parks and beautiful quiet neighborhoods into bloodstained killing fields,” President Trump said of the members of MS-13, a transnational gang composed largely of Central American youth; its activity has been growing in recent years, both in the United States and in Central America. A few weeks ago, Attorney General Jeff Sessions told law enforcement officers that these young, undocumented immigrants were “wolves in sheep’s clothing.”

I work at Oakland International High School in Oakland, Calif. It is a public school with a population made up entirely of recently arrived immigrant students. Today, over 25 percent are unaccompanied minors — young people who crossed into the United States without papers or parents — who have been released from immigration custody and placed in deportation proceedings to await their day in court. Since we opened 10 years ago, our students’ gang involvement has markedly decreased. This is because we have gotten better at what we were meant to do, namely: provide programs that teach skills, offer support services that reduce barriers to coming to school, and foster a sense of community.

We offer what the gangs offer, but better.

I had one student who came to the United States as an unaccompanied minor from Honduras. His mother left him when he was little, and he never knew his father. He lived with his grandmother until she died. He was just 13. For two years he lived alone in her house, selling water bottles on the street on behalf of a neighboring family. Sometimes they invited him over for dinner; other times they didn’t.

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Continue reading the main story

He told me that he saw this life in Honduras as a dead end. He crossed into Guatemala, rode on top of trains through Mexico, hiding what little money he had pressed against the inside of his cheek, and swam across the Rio Grande. He was apprehended at the border, placed into a youth detention center, and sent to live with his aunt in Oakland, pending his deportation hearing. He enrolled at Oakland International but, after a couple of weeks, his attendance waned. Soon he stopped coming altogether.

“I didn’t know anything,” he told me. Being in school felt impossible to him because he felt unable to succeed at it. He had an upcoming court case and no lawyer; that, he knew, would cost money he didn’t have.

One Saturday, I took the train into San Francisco to meet a friend. As I waited at the Bay Area Rapid Transit station outside the Civic Center, I watched as, in broad daylight, Latino teenagers sold drugs to the area’s vagrants. I knew this drug ring was connected to MS-13. There, on the other side of the plaza, was my student.

“These are animals,” President Trump said of MS-13 members. Most often, rather, they are like my student: young people, not unlike child soldiers, who enter a violent life by either force or force of circumstance. They do not come to the United States to participate in gang life; it winds up as the only option.

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Our school kept trying with this particular student. We conducted home visits in East Oakland, where he lived with his aunt, found him a therapist he could see at school, and encouraged him to join our school soccer team. He got a free lawyer. He quit selling at the Civic Center. He came back to school.

Newly arrived immigrants are a fast-growing demographic in American schools, and they will continue to be, regardless of the fate of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Yet the Trump administration is pushing for cuts that will affect their ability to succeed in school, or even attend school at all.

The proposed 2018 education budget includes approximately $9 billion in cuts — 13.5 percent of the total. The cuts include an evisceration of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers, a $1 billion earmark which provides funding for enrichment opportunities for students in high-poverty schools.

Nearly all of the support our school was able to offer my student, and so many like him, was a result of 21st Century funding. It pays for Soccer Without Borders, which serves more than half of our student population, and for an organization called Refugee Transitions, which offers tutoring and homework help. It pays for mental health interns to provide therapy to youth in six languages.

Quality public education is a fundamental, if aspirational, American value. But altruism aside, investing in newcomer education makes practical sense. It costs far more to lock someone up for a year than it does to educate him.

“We’re going to destroy the vile, criminal cartel MS-13,” President Trump announced to a group of law enforcement officers on Long Island, N.Y., in July. To focus on police intervention rather than education isn’t only shortsighted, it’s also been proven not to work. All we have to do is look at El Salvador, where a series of failed iron fist campaigns that combined police crackdowns with a lack of social alternatives served to increase violence.

We could also look at history. MS- 13 was born in the United States among disenfranchised, traumatized immigrant youth in the 1980s and, through deportation, was exported to El Salvador (then spread to Honduras and Guatemala) — where it now relies on vulnerable young recruits, teenage and even younger, to grow its ranks.

Central America’s endemic violence is not going away anytime soon, so, like it or not, these young people will keep coming, regardless of the walls we build or the immigration policies we enact. Excluded and disenfranchised young people seek inclusion elsewhere: on the margins, in the shadows, in society’s dark underbelly. Gangs provide that sense of belonging, along with a feeling of success and upward mobility, for those who are not offered the same in mainstream society.

Last Tuesday afternoon, on a warm fall day in Oakland, more than 60 young men from more than a dozen countries played soccer together out on our misshapen soccer pitch. An additional 50 or so students sat in the cafeteria, working with teachers and volunteers to practice their English and finish their homework. A group of parents met in a classroom to help plan the year’s activities. It was just a typical day at the school — a day full of activities that depend on money that could disappear. If 21st Century funds go away, these programs vanish. Which means the students will find somewhere else to take them in.

MS-13, as it happens, welcomes young people with open arms.”

**********************************

Pretty much what I’ve been saying all along. There ways of getting the job done. We really need to use them!

PWS

09-28-17

NO MORE BUREAUCRATIC BS – AMERICA NEEDS AN INDEPENDENT ARTICLE I IMMIGRATION COURT NOW — A RESPONSE TO THE DOJ’S ATTEMPT TO “COVER UP” THE SCANDALOUS, SELF-CREATED, DUE-PROCESS DENYING IMMIGRATON COURT BACKLOG EXPOSED BY NBC 4 DC’S I-TEAM — By Paul Wickham Schmidt, United States Immigration Judge (Retired)

  • NO MORE BUREAUCRATIC BS – AMERICA NEEDS AN INDEPENDENT ARTICLE I IMMIGRATION COURT NOW
  • A RESPONSE TO THE DOJ’S ATTEMPT TO “COVER UP” THE SCANDALOUS, SELF-CREATED, DUE-PROCESS DENYING IMMIGRATION COURT BACKLOG EXPOSED BY NBC 4 DC’S I-TEAM
  •  
  • By Paul Wickham Schmidt
  • United States Immigration Judge (Retired
  • Let’s look at a few pieces of the EOIR “response” to the I-Team’s Recent Expose. You can read that full exercise in bureaucratese in a separate blog right here:  http://wp.me/p8eeJm-1tn

First, the EOIR bureaucracy has no coherent plan to address the backlog that now has risen to more than 628,000 pending cases (even more than at the time Jodie interviewed me) notwithstanding more U.S. Immigration Judges on board! The agency is “studying” the matter. Usually that means that politicos at the DOJ are looking for ways to further truncate Due Process and fairness for respondents in the Immigration Courts.

 

“Studying” the matter. Oh, please! Let’s look at the most glaring failure highlighted by Jodie, the failure to have even a rudimentary e-filing system. Back in 2001, a group of us, including computer wonks, field personnel, and Senior Executives were assigned to an e-filing project. We submitted a detailed report, complete with plans for a pilot program to the EOIR Executive Group, where it promptly was buried. More than 15 year later, and following several more waste of time studies, there still is no e-filing system in the U.S. Immigration Courts! Not even a viable pilot program! In the meantime, almost every other court system in America has implemented e-filing. For heaven’s sake, even the local courts in Wisconsin have e-filing capability!

 

Second, EOIR makes the totally disingenuous statement that: “Although multiple factors may have contributed to this caseload, immigration judges must ensure that lower productivity and adjudicatory inefficiency do not further exacerbate this situation. To this end, EOIR recently issued Operating Policies and Procedures Memorandum 17-01: Continuances (available at https://www.justice.gov/eoir/oppm-log), which provides guidance on the fair and efficient handling of motions for continuance.”

 

This is a blatant misrepresentation of what caused the real problem and a grotesque failure to accept responsibility! The current crisis has little, if anything, to do with Immigration Judge productivity (at an average of 750 completions per judge, U.S. Immigration Judges are already working 50% above the recommended maximum level for their positions — if anything, as shown by some of the recent gross errors exposed by U.S. Circuit Courts, both the Immigration Judges and the BIA Judges should be slowing down to get things right — “haste makes waste”).

 

No the real problem here is quite simple: bureaucrats at EOIR, the politicos at DOJ, and Congress. Let’s start with Congress. While Congress has belatedly provided some extra positions and funding for the Immigration Courts, for years Congress has been responsible for overfunding DHS enforcement while underfunding the Immigration Court system.

 

Moreover, the idiotic Government shutdown during the Obama Administration hurt immeasurably. During at least one such shutdown, the vast majority of Immigration Judges, those assigned to the non-detained dockets, were determined by the DOJ to be “nonessential,” sent home on “furlough,” and our dockets were cancelled. When we finally returned to court, there was docket chaos. The system really never has recovered from that man-made disaster. Moreover, both Congress’s failure to fund and DOJ’s idiotic designation of us as “nonessential” sent strong messages that the entire Immigration Court is a “who cares” operation from both a Congressional and an Administration standpoint. And mindless hiring freezes resulting from incompetence in Congress and the Executive Branch didn’t help either.

 

Then, years of “Aimless Docket Reshuffling” at the behest of DOJ politicos carrying out improper enforcement initiatives through the courts turned chaos into absolute bedlam! Senior Immigration Judges were reassigned from “Merits Dockets” to “meet and greets” for Unaccompanied Minors who really belonged before the DHS Asylum Office. Other judges were taken off of “ready for trial” merits dockets and assigned to hear cases of recently arrived “Adults With Children,” many of whom had not received sufficient time to find lawyers and whose cases were often “Not Quite Ready For Prime Time.” Judges were detailed from full “home” dockets to the Southern Border where they often weren’t needed or didn’t have enough work to keep busy. Then, the Trump Administration took judges off of Merits Dockets that had been pending for years and reassigned them to obscure detention courts, where they often were not fully occupied or were taking over dockets from other judges who were left with nothing to do.

 

The DOJ/EOIR bureaucracy long ago deprived sitting Immigration Judges of any meaningful control over their local dockets. To now insinuate that Immigration Judge “productivity” or “continuances granted by local Immigration Judges” are significant causes of the problem is an outrageous attempt to cover up the sad truth. Additionally, over the past four Administrations, the DOJ has refused to implement Congress’s statutory grant of contempt authority to U.S. Immigration Judges. This deprives Immigration Judges of even the most rudimentary tools possessed by judges of comparable authority for maintaining order and control of their courts.

 

Then there are continuances. As Hon. Jeffrey Chase and I have both pointed out in our separate blogs, the attempt to blame judges and overwhelmed private counsel, particularly those serving for NGSs or pro bono, for requesting too many continuances is totally bogus. The majority of the lengthy continuances in Immigration Court are the result of Aimless Docket Reshuffling imposed by the politicos at DOJ and carried out by compliant administrators at EOIR who have lost sight of their due process mission but not of the need to save their jobs by cooperating with the politicos.

 

As Jodie pointed out, there are lots of folks out there, many with potentially winning cases, who are ready and would like their “day in court.” But, the system is too busy shuffling things around to satisfy the President’s Executive Orders and trying to fulfill the Attorney General’s enforcement priorities to deliver justice in a reasonable, predictable, and orderly manner.

 

The private bar and NGO attorneys, many of whom serve pro bono or low bono, are the unsung heroes of this system. They are the only reason the system hasn’t completely collapsed yet! Their intentional mistreatment and the disrespect showered on them by spineless bureaucrats at EOIR and the cowardly politicos at DOJ is nothing short of a national disgrace!

 

Then, let’s take a closer look at the DOJ/EOIR hiring fiasco! According to a recent GAO study recommending improvements at the Immigration Courts, Immigration Judge hiring has taken an astounding average of two years! That’s longer than it takes for a Senate-confirmed political appointment or than it took the Roosevelt Administration to build the Pentagon during the New Deal! But, the results of this glacial, “Rube-Goldberg” process are disturbingly predictable and pedestrian. Nearly 90% of the Immigration Judges hired over this and the past Administration came from prosecutorial or other government backgrounds. With due respect, one could probably have produced similar results by “blind drawing” applications from senior government attorneys from a box. Neither EOIR nor DOJ has put forth an efficient, transparent, merit-based program to replace this mess, although many worthy models exist — such as the merit hiring procedures for U.S. Bankruptcy Judges and Magistrates which usually involve widespread input from leading practitioners in the areas they will be serving.

 

Notwithstanding the current “crisis,” EOIR and DOJ are sitting on an Immigration Judge vacancy rate of 15%! There are currently 55 judicial vacancies! EOIR was only able to hire and bring on 64 new Immigration Judges during the entire past year. That will barely be enough to fill the currently vacant positions and any retirements or other departures. So, the idea that a DOJ plan to budget for more judges is going to solve this crisis any time in the foreseeable future is nonsense.

 

 

Let’s take a quick look at the numbers in the DOJ “never-never land.” They project 449 Immigration Judges by the end of FY 2018, which is September 30, 2018, one year from now. Let’s also assume the highly unlikely: that Congress grants the request, the money is appropriated, additional courtrooms are built, additional staff is hired, all the judicial positions are filled, and the additional Immigration Judges are all on board and up to speed by September 30, 2018.

 

449 Immigration Judges could at most, complete approximately 337,000 cases without impeding due process. Therefore, using the DOJ’s own figures, and giving the most optimistic outlook possible, it would take nearly two years, practically to the end of this Administration, just to complete all of the cases currently on docket if no additional cases were filed! The idea that 449 Immigration Judges could do that plus handle incoming cases without creating a new backlog is facially absurd. DOJ’s own numbers refute it. What is clear is that neither the politicos at DOJ nor the bureaucrats at EOIR have any idea of how to actually solve the backlog problem and reestablish order in the Immigration Courts.

 

So, what really needs to be done!

 

First and foremost, we need an independent U.S. Immigration Court outside the DOJ. And that means a return to Due Process as the sole function and guiding light of the Immigration Court just like it is for all other independent courts. DHS Enforcement priorities should be considered and accommodated where possible without compromising due process. But, they are just one of many factors that go into running an efficient due process court system. DHS Enforcement should not be “driving the train.”

Given that approximately half of the individuals now in Immigration Court appear to be entitled to some form of relief, independent U.S. Immigration Judges could develop ways to force the DHS to identify these cases and either resolve them outside of court or move them up to “short dockets” for quick resolutions based largely on stipulations and focused testimony or legal arguments.

 

Moreover, I know from hard experience that even though independent Article III judges were technically not supposed to review “prosecutorial discretion“ they had many creative ways to basically tell the INS (now DHS) to get certain low priority or extreme humanitarian cases off the docket — or else. The current Administration’s abusive removal of prosecutorial discretion from local DHS prosecutors is a major contributing factor in the current docket mess. An independent court would be able to stand up to this kind of nonsense, rather than “going along to get along.” No court system in American operates without a heavy dose of PD from the prosecutors.

 

Additionally, implementation of contempt authority, extending to both private attorneys and Government prosecutors, would give Immigration Judges real clout in stopping abuses of the court’s docket and moving cases along in a failure and reasonable manner.

 

Second, the EOIR bureaucracy needs to be replaced with a real court structure patterned on other Federal Courts. I’d hazard to say that no other functioning court system in America has as Byzantine and as bloated a bureaucracy as EOIR. Far too many of the positions and resources are in “Headquarters” in Falls Church rather than in the local courts where they belong. Docket control needs to be returned to sitting Immigration Judges who are in the best position to work with the local bar, pro bono providers, the DHS Office of Chief Counsel, and the Court Administrator to establish the most efficient and fair ways of scheduling cases and moving along dockets given local conditions and limitations.

 

And “Job One” at the local Immigration Court level should be to work with all parties to insure that Immigration Court cases are docketed and scheduled in a manner that insures, to the maximum extent humanly possible, that no individual who wants a lawyer is required to appear without one. Representation by competent counsel is the single most important ingredient of achieving due process in the U.S. Immigration Courts.

 

Third, the U.S. Immigration Courts need a new professional Administrative Office patterned on the Administrative Office for U.S. Courts and responsible to a Judicial Council, not politicos at the DOJ. Courtroom planning, technology, security, files management, training, planning for the future, and hiring are all not up to professional court management standards in the current system. In particular, the outdated, often unreliable technology and inadequate space are glaring issues in a high volume system like the Immigration Courts.

 

Also, the current judicial selection system is a bad joke. It is neither transparent nor timely, and it totally lacks credibility in the “real world” of immigration practice. The Immigration Courts need a non-partisan, merit-based, efficient hiring system that gives local practitioners and judges as well as government counsel some meaningful input while producing results in a timely fashion. There are many merit-based models out there like those for hiring U.S. Bankruptcy Judges, U.S. Magistrates, and Judges for the Superior Court of DC.

 

Fourth, the system needs an Appellate Court that acts like an independent appellate court not a service center catering to the politicos at the DOJ. The current BIA’s lack of diverse backgrounds among its Appellate Immigration Judges and glaring lack of Immigration Court or asylum expertise has resulted in a weak body of asylum law and insufficient control over wayward judges who are unwilling to grant relief in appropriate situations. There are many asylum cases out there in the backlog that should and could be rapidly granted. Moreover, many of them probably should have been granted at the DHS Asylum Office. The current Board has failed to take appropriate corrective action in those courts where hostility to or misinterpretation of laws favorable to respondents has resulted in indefensibly low rates of granting relief. This, in turn, encourages the DHS to keep cases on the court docket that properly should be settled out of court, returned to the Asylum Office, or sent to the USCIS.

 

The current Board “is what it is,” It can’t really help itself, as a result of questionable choices outside of its control made by the politicos at the DOJ over several Administrations. I’m not suggesting that current BIA Judges should not be “grandfathered” into an independent Appellate Division of the Immigration Court. But future Appellate Judge appointments should be strictly merit-based and should be focused on recognizing proven expertise and fairness in applying asylum laws and expertise gained in activities beyond just government service, particularly those in clinical academic practices or serving the pro bono community through NGOs.

 

Fifth, and finally, the U.S. Immigration Courts need e-filing now! The time for “study” is long over! Existing systems in other courts can be tailored for U.S. Immigration Court use. It’s no longer “rocket science.” It’s “Basic Professional Court Management 101.” It’s time for action, not more studies, unfulfilled promises, and bureaucratic smokescreens! If nothing else, the failure of the DOJ over a number of Administrations to accomplish this very basic ministerial task demonstrates beyond any reasonable doubt its incompetence and inability to administer the U.S. Immigration Courts in anything approaching a minimally professional manner.

 

Yup, I’ve set forth an ambitious agenda. But, unlike the “DOJ/EOIR BS,” it’s based on real life experience and decades of observation at all levels inside and outside this broken system. If Congress and the Administration can’t get their collective acts together and establish an Independent Article Immigration Court now, there will be a “lock-up” point at which almost everything will stop functioning. There is no way that the current EOIR technology and inadequate planning can keep on absorbing even more cases and even more positions.

 

And if, as I predict, rather than doing the right thing, this Administration responds with mindless hurry up denials of due process, the cases will start piling up in the Article III Courts and being returned to the Immigration Courts for “do-overs” in droves. I’ve actually seen it happen before in the Bush Administration. But, this is much worse because there are many more cases and this Administration is even more clueless about how to deal with immigration enforcement and the Immigration Court system. In the end, it’s the folks who depend on the Immigration Court system for justice and the overall concept of our courts being able to deliver even-handed justice in a fair and reasonable manner that will be hurt. And, folks, that’s going to affect all of us at some point in the future.

 

Don’t accept more ridiculous shameful bureaucratic, “do nothing” BS from the DOJ! It’s time to hold DOJ and EOIR fully accountable for their failure to provide basic Due Process in the U.S. Immigration Courts and for Congress to accept their fair share of the blame!

 

Tell your Senators and Representatives that you’ve had enough of this nonsense and gross waste and mismanagement of government resources! Fixing the U.S. Immigration Courts now must be one of our highest national priorities! Those who would continue to sweep this problem under the rug deserve to be voted out of office! No more BS and excuses; Article I now! Due Process Now!

Other than the above, of course, I think the current system is great!

PWS

09-26-17

 

CORRUPT ADMINISTRATION: When USG’s Own Studies Prove The Economic Benefits Of Refugees, Those Seeking To Further The White Nationalist False Narrative Do The Obvious — Suppress The Facts & Lie About It! — Anyway, Refugee Admissions Aren’t About Making Money — The Immorality Of The Trump Administration Runs Deep!

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/18/us/politics/refugees-revenue-cost-report-trump.html

Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Somini Sengupta report for the NYT:

“WASHINGTON — Trump administration officials, under pressure from the White House to provide a rationale for reducing the number of refugees allowed into the United States next year, rejected a study by the Department of Health and Human Services that found that refugees brought in $63 billion more in government revenues over the past decade than they cost.
The draft report, which was obtained by The New York Times, contradicts a central argument made by advocates of deep cuts in refugee totals as President Trump faces an Oct. 1 deadline to decide on an allowable number. The issue has sparked intense debate within his administration as opponents of the program, led by Mr. Trump’s chief policy adviser, Stephen Miller, assert that continuing to welcome refugees is too costly and raises concerns about terrorism.
Advocates of the program inside and outside the administration say refugees are a major benefit to the United States, paying more in taxes than they consume in public benefits, and filling jobs in service industries that others will not. But research documenting their fiscal upside — prepared for a report mandated by Mr. Trump in a March presidential memorandum implementing his travel ban — never made its way to the White House. Some of those proponents believe the report was suppressed.
The internal study, which was completed in late July but never publicly released, found that refugees “contributed an estimated $269.1 billion in revenues to all levels of government” between 2005 and 2014 through the payment of federal, state and local taxes. “Overall, this report estimated that the net fiscal impact of refugees was positive over the 10-year period, at $63 billion.”
But White House officials said those conclusions were illegitimate and politically motivated, and were disproved by the final report issued by the agency, which asserts that the per-capita cost of a refugee is higher than that of an American.
“This leak was delivered by someone with an ideological agenda, not someone looking at hard data,” said Raj Shah, a White House spokesman. “The actual report pursuant to the presidential memorandum shows that refugees with few skills coming from war-torn countries take more government benefits from the Department of Health and Human Services than the average population, and are not a net benefit to the U.S. economy.”
John Graham, the acting assistant secretary for planning and evaluation at the health department, said: “We do not comment on allegedly leaked documents” and that no report had been finalized. He noted that Mr. Trump’s memorandum “seeks an analysis related to the cost of refugee programs. Therefore, the only analysis in the scope of H.H.S.’s response to the memo would be on refugee-related expenditures from data within H.H.S. programs.”
The three-page report the agency ultimately submitted, dated Sept. 5, does just that, using government data to compare the costs of refugees to Americans and making no mention of revenues contributed by refugees.
“In an average year over the 10-year period, per-capita refugee costs for major H.H.S. programs totaled $3,300,” it says. “Per-person costs for the U.S. population were lower, at $2,500, reflecting a greater participation of refugees in H.H.S. programs, especially during their first four years” in the United States.
It was not clear who in the administration decided to keep the information out of the final report. An internal email, dated Sept. 5 and sent among officials from government agencies involved in refugee issues, said that “senior leadership is questioning the assumptions used to produce the report.” A separate email said that Mr. Miller had requested a meeting to discuss the report. The Times was shown the emails on condition that the sender not be identified. Mr. Miller personally intervened in the discussions on the refugee cap to ensure that only the costs — not any fiscal benefit — of the program were considered, according to two people familiar with the talks.
He has also played a crucial role in the internal discussions over refugee admissions, which are capped by an annual presidential determination that is usually coordinated by the National Security Council and led in large part by the State Department.
This year, officials at the State Department as well as the Department of Defense have argued vociferously that the United States should admit no fewer than the 50,000-refugee cap that Mr. Trump imposed in January as part of the travel ban, but Mr. Miller has advocated for a much lower number — half or less, according to people familiar with the internal talks who described them on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to detail them. The Department of Homeland Security last week proposed a cap of 40,000. The limits being debated would be the lowest in more than three decades.
“We see an administration that’s running a program that it’s intent on destroying,” said Mark Hetfield, the president of HIAS, one of nine refugee resettlement agencies opposing the cut in admissions. “We do have champions in the White House and in the administration, but they’re not being given a voice in this.”
The issue is coming to a head as Mr. Trump attends the United Nations General Assembly this week for the first time as president. The United Nations has repeatedly appealed to nations to resettle 1.2 million refugees fleeing war and persecution from all over the world, and former President Barack Obama used the gathering last year to tout his goal of admitting 110,000 refugees in the fiscal year that ends this month, and to pressure other countries to follow the lead of the United States in embracing more displaced people.
Mr. Trump, by contrast, has highlighted his goal of radically cutting refugee admissions. The president moved swiftly after taking office to crack down on refugees, issuing his original ban against travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries only a week after taking office.
Facing legal challenges to that order, his administration released a second travel ban two months later against six countries, along with a presidential memorandum in which Mr. Trump called on the secretary of state to consult with the secretaries of Health and Human Services and Homeland Security and his White House budget director and submit within 180 days “a report detailing the estimated long-term costs of the United States Refugee Admissions Program at the federal, state, and local levels, along with recommendations about how to curtail those costs.”
The budget Mr. Trump released in May argued that refugees and other immigrants were a fiscal drain. “Under the refugee program, the federal government brings tens of thousands of entrants into the United States, on top of existing legal immigration flows, who are instantly eligible for time-limited cash benefits and numerous noncash federal benefits, including food assistance through SNAP, medical care and education, as well as a host of state and local benefits,” the document said.
It would be less costly, it argued, if there were fewer refugees, since “each refugee admitted into the United States comes at the expense of helping a potentially greater number out of country.” Inside the administration, those who espouse this view argue that any research purporting to illustrate fiscal benefits of refugees is flawed and reflects only wishful thinking.
As Mr. Trump deliberates privately about the issue, a coalition of human rights and religious groups as well as former national security officials in both parties has formed to encourage him not to allow the refugee cap to plummet.
“From a national security standpoint, while we can’t take an unlimited number of refugees, we need to show our friends and allies that we stand with them and this is a shared burden,” said Michael Chertoff, the secretary of homeland security under George W. Bush.
“They’ve generated a lot of economic value,” Mr. Chertoff added in an interview. “I don’t think refugees are coming to take American jobs.”
Get politics and Washington news updates via Facebook, Twitter and the Morning Briefing newsletter.
Julie Hirschfeld Davis reported from Washington, and Somini Sengupta from New York.”

 

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Get a complete copy of the report the Administration is trying so hard to suppress at the NYT link above.

In the Trump Administration “truth” has become a “political agenda” of those who aren’t willing to skew facts and tell lies in support of a bankrupt White Nationalist restrictionist agenda. It’s telling that the DOD is one of the agencies pushing for more refugee admissions.

Moreover, as has been pointed out in previous blogs, admitting refugees is not simply a question of “what can they do for our economy” (although the answer to that is “amazing things”). It’s also about our international obligations, our obligations to the world community, and our obligations as human beings to other humans in need. In other words, simple decency and morality, concepts that guys like Trump, Sessions, and Miller consistently sweep under the rug as they roll out their false political narrative.

PWS

09-20-17

 

OPTIMISTS’ CORNER: Thinking Ahead To A Post-Trump World! — WashPost Book Review: “One Nation after Trump: A Guide for the Perplexed, the Disillusioned, the Desperate, and the Not-Yet Deported” by E.J. Dionne, Jr., Norman J. Ornstein, and Thomas E. Mann!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/imaginative-optimism-about-life-in-america-after-trump/2017/09/15/b8b3cc00-94c6-11e7-8754-d478688d23b4_story.html?utm_term=.b261a1306421

Reviewer Beverly Gage writes:

President Trump is not forever. At some point in the not-too-distant future, he will no longer be president, and it will be time to asdamage and begin the recovery process. We don’t know when this will happen: this year or next, in 2021 or 2025. And we don’t know how it will occur: impeachment, resignation, being voted out of office or simply finishing out two terms. But it will happen, and the people in the best position to take advantage of that moment will be those who are already thinking about where we ought to go next. [Let’s just say it: The Republicans are the problem.] That is the imaginative task behind “One Nation After Trump,” a dense but good-spirited and thoroughly readable exercise in envisioning a better America. The book is a team effort by three well-respected Beltway thinkers: the liberal Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne Jr., the American Enterprise Institute’s more conservative Norman J. Ornstein and Ornstein’s longtime co-author Thomas E. Mann, of the Brookings Institution. Their bipartisan — or, perhaps, tripartisan — work seems intended to send the rest of us a message: It’s time to find some common ground before obstructionism, demagoguery, fake news and racial resentment become the dominant features of our national politics. They call upon the old but good Latin phrase “E pluribus unum” to express those aspirations. “Out of many,” they hope, Americans can still find a way to act as “one.” The book begins with an assessment of the 2016 election, asking how on earth we ended up with our reality-star “Normless President.” Its emphasis is less on Trump, however, than on the long-term structural and cultural changes that made his election possible. The authors have no patience for a “both sides” argument about the degradation of our political culture. They lay the blame firmly within the Republican Party, where a process of “radicalization” that began in the 1980s has now resulted in a “Jurassic Park”-style disaster, with the creators of that change unable to control their own monster. “One Nation After Trump,” by E.J. Dionne Jr. and Norman Ornstein (St. Martin’s Press) While Republicans in general — and conservatives in particular — come in for censure, the authors also stress how seemingly neutral aspects of our political system have conspired in recent years to produce an ominous trend toward undemocratic “minority rule.” The electoral college is perhaps the most obvious example; in two out of the past five presidential elections, the popular-vote winner lost the electoral count. Add to this partisan gerrymandering and the two-senators-per-state rule, and we begin to see a national government that does not fully reflect the will of the national majority. In 2012, the authors note, Democrats won 50.5 percent of the major-party votes in House elections but only 46.2 percent of the seats. And such statistics only begin to capture the scope of the challenge. The same structures that weight votes heavily toward rural and Republican areas also discourage voting in the first place, forever reminding individual voters that they don’t matter unless they live in a few key swing states or congressional districts. So what is to be done? If the book’s first half focuses on the sorry state of things today, the second half focuses on how to not make the same mistakes in the future. The authors claim to be genuinely — if tentatively — hopeful about what Trump’s election may ultimately yield for American civic life. “We believe that the popular mobilization and national soul-searching he has aroused could be the occasion for an era of democratic renewal,” they write. But that will happen only if Trump’s opponents across the political spectrum come up with “a hopeful and unifying alternative.” The authors present an impressive list of policy ideas designed to do just that and perhaps even to dispel some of Trump’s allure within the MAGA base. They make a distinction between the “legitimate” (read: economic) grievances of Trump voters and the illegitimate expression of those grievances in the politics of racial and nativist resentment. They chastise Democrats for paying insufficient attention to the real pain of working-class voters, sidelined for decades by deindustrialization and now by an incomplete recovery from the financial crisis. But they insist — rightly — that any attempt to address those problems cannot come at the expense of other social justice movements. Many of their proposals are at once ambitious and reasonable, attempts to make the government work better for its citizens and to deliver a measure of economic justice to those left behind. They group these ideas into a Charter for American Working Families, including a GI Bill for American Workers, designed to revive the all-but-dying dream of economic mobility, and a Contract for American Social Responsibility, aimed at getting corporations to take their public obligations seriously. “Warm feelings are not the same as coherent policies,” they warn. At the same time, they can’t help but dream that the two need not be mutually exclusive. It is hard to object to much about these plans, with their emphasis on fairness and comity and partisan goodwill. And yet there is something incongruous about the authors’ belief that good policy, judiciously presented, will yield the desired political transformation. As the authors note, one of the more depressing lessons of the 2016 election was that policy simply didn’t matter much. Nobody, including his own voters, thought Trump had much policy expertise. On the campaign trail, however, his abuse of wonks and elites and bureaucrats seemed to work in his favor.”

*************************************

Read Gage’s complete review, with original and much better formatting, at the link.

I’ve made the point before that those of us who believe in the goodness of America and the strength of a nation based on diversity of backgrounds, cultures, and talents, that is, the majority of Americans, have somehow found ourselves in the unhappy position of being governed by a President and a Party that largely represent the disonent views of a (often unjustifiably) “disgruntled minority” that does not share that vision. There is actually plenty of room for that minority to peacefully coexist and prosper in the majority worldview; but little room for the more humane and tolerant views of the majority in this minority’s crabbed and too often largely self-centered worldview.

Somehow, over time, that has to change for our country to continue to move forward and accomplish great things for ourselves and, perhaps even more important, for others throughout the world. And, there will always be plenty of room for that “disonent minority” regardless of how long it take them to, or if they ever do, “see the light.”

PWS

09-16-17

 

SWAMP NEWS: “FREQUENT LIARS CLUB” — Treasury Secretary Steven “Munchkin” Mnuchin Claimed He Needed USG Jet For Honeymoon For “National Security Reasons” — Flunks “Straight Face Test!”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/steve-mnuchin-honeymoon_us_59baf2ebe4b02da0e1407719

Mollie Reilly reports for HuffPost:

“Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has defended asking to use a government plane for his honeymoon travel this summer, claiming his request was “purely a national security issue.”

As ABC News reported Wednesday, the former Goldman Sachs banker requested the use of a U.S. Air Force jet during his honeymoon travel in France, Italy and Scotland. (Mnuchin married the Scottish actress Louise Linton in June.) According to the report, using such an aircraft could have cost taxpayers as much as $25,000 per day.

In an interview with Politico Live on Thursday, Mnuchin said his staff made the request so he could have “access to secure communication” throughout his trip.

“This had nothing to do with convenience,” he said. “This was purely a national security issue.”

Mnuchin said that due to spending “over 50 percent” of his time working on national security, he needed a secure communication facility to continue to conduct business while on his honeymoon.

“I speak to, almost on a daily basis, either the president, the secretary of state, the national security adviser, [Defense Secretary] General [James] Mattis,” he said. “We are dealing with, as you know, some of the most complicated issues right now, whether it be North Korea, Iran, Venezuela or anywhere else.”

“At the time my staff wanted to make sure I constantly had access to secure communication and secure information,” he continued. “This was one of the things we explored, so they put in a request to consider the use of an aircraft ― not so much just for flying, but effectively it was a portable office so that I could be available.”

A Treasury spokesperson gave a similar explanation on Wednesday.

Mnuchin said his staff withdrew the request after finding another way to give him access to secure communication channels.”

**********************************

Read the rest of Mollie’s entertaining “Swamp Report” at the link.

Wow! I guess that The Munchkin’s marriage to famously culturally tone deaf actress Louise (“Let ’em eat Gucci”) Linton wasn’t going to keep him occupied for much of their honeymoon. I suppose he worked while she bought out the high-end clothes shops! I can only imagine what The Munchkin’s contributions to the national security strategies for North Korea or Iran might be!

PWS

09-14-17

THE ECONOMY: What America REALLY Needs: More Legal Workers, No More “Gonzo” Immigration Enforcement — More Immigrant Workers Needed To Save Our Economy — And They Don’t Have To Be Rocket Scientists & PhDs: Construction & Service Industries That Support US Economy Need “Entry Level” Workers!

http://host.madison.com/wsj/business/wisconsin-businesses-grapple-with-a-growing-worker-shortage/article_3ef1000e-c18b-5f72-bbcd-720ee2456111.html#utm_source=host.madison.com&utm_campaign=%2Femail%2F&utm_medium=email&utm_content=26CD42536544E247751EC74095D9CEDC67E77EDB

The Wisconsin State Journal (Madison) reports:

A Madison restaurant has raised pay for entry-level chefs in recent years more than 50 percent to $14 an hour, but still closes on Sunday evenings — not because of a lack of customers, but because workers are scarce.

Those and countless other stories across Wisconsin are symptoms of a growing worker shortage that is expected to worsen over the next decade, according to Wisconsin State Journal interviews with dozens of employers, economists, advocacy group experts and state political and economic development officials.

“We are right at the brink of the crisis,” said Ann Franz, director of the Northeast Wisconsin Manufacturing Alliance in Green Bay. “There just aren’t enough human beings in Wisconsin with baby boomers retiring. Just driving down the road there are constantly signs hiring. I’ve seen them on billboards: ‘Come to our car dealership and buy our car. Come so we can give you a job.'”

Employers from a broad range of industries are reporting difficulty finding workers — and not only for skilled professionals such as nurses, welders and computer programmers, who require a strong education and training system, but also for workers with a high school diploma and some additional training at restaurants, farms, construction sites, factories, senior care facilities, retailers and other businesses.

“I would call it Wisconsin’s mega-issue,” said Kurt Bauer, president of Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, the state’s largest business group, which recently found 77 percent of members surveyed had difficulty finding workers, up from 53 percent two years ago. “All other issues, they may be important, but they are subordinate to workforce.”

*********************************

Read the rest of the article at the link.

In this context, terminating DACA, thereby depriving existing productive American workers of work authorization, is not only cruel, but also crazy. And supporting the RAISE Act — specifically designed by White Nationalist restrictionists to lower legal immigration while limiting the remaining opportunities largely to White, English speaking individuals with college degrees — is simply insane.

Legal immigration is good for America in many ways (beyond the economy) and we need more, not less, of it. Indeed, had we developed a more rational and realistic legal immigration system, most of the Dreamers and their families would have been admitted in an orderly fashion under the legal system years ago.

Guys like Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions who worked as an effective legislative minority to block sensible immigration reform through parliamentary maneuvers, are now falsely claiming that deportations, “gonzo” arbitrary enforcement, and a reign of terror are the only solutions to a fake crisis that they largely created.

But, in fact, there is no crisis. Most of the 11 million migrants here without documentation are working hard, in jobs we need, part of American families, English speaking or learning English, and fitting well into American communities. Indeed, they are far less disruptive to society than are ICE’s arbitrary and fear spresding enforcement policies. That’s certainly the case here in Alexandria and Northern Virginia. And even more of them would pay taxes if we simply made it easy for them by granting legal status.

The relatively small minority of undocumented migrants who are engaging in anti-social behavior can be identified and removed with some reasonable readjustment of existing resources. For example, more money allocated to the U.S. Immigration Courts, training, technology, community-based policing, and focused “smart”enforcement instead of wasteful and inhumane detention, unfocused arbitrary enforcement, unneeded walls, and filling prisons with minor immigration violators. ICE prosecutors should be authorized and encouraged to use their discretion to prioritize their Immigration Court dockets with a focus on due process and bettering society while recognizing that judicial time will always be both precious and limited.

The current scare tactics and dire, but false, scenarios being pushed by the Trump Administration will neither aid our economy nor serve America’s real needs. They would make us both less safe and less great as a nation.

PWS

09-10-17

 

 

 

 

 

JAMES HOHMANN IN WASHPOST: SOME KEY GOP MODERATES FLEE WASHINGTON AS SWAMP-DWELLING LENINIST REVOLUTIONARIES & BAKUNINIST ANARCHISTS TAKE OVER PARTY AIMING TO DESTROY AMERICAN DEMOCRACY AS WE KNOW IT! — But, Congressional Departures Still Below Norm So “Trump-Effect” Likely Overhyped!

https://s2.washingtonpost.com/camp-rw/?e=amVubmluZ3MxMkBhb2wuY29t&s=59b279eefe1ff671d4f2777c

Hohmann reports in the “Daily 202:”

THE BIG IDEA: Exhausted from his ideological battles with the House Freedom Caucus and clashes with Donald Trump’s White House, Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) has decided to retire.

“As a member of the governing wing of the Republican Party, I’ve worked to instill stability, certainty and predictability in Washington,” Dent said in a statement last night announcing that he will not seek an eighth term. “I’ve fought to fulfill the basic functions of government, like keeping the lights on and preventing default. Regrettably, that has not been easy given the disruptive outside influences that profit from increased polarization and ideological rigidity that leads to dysfunction, disorder and chaos.”

Dent is the co-chairman of the moderate Tuesday Group, which has about 50 center-right members. That’s more than the three dozen or so guys in the Freedom Caucus, but the tea partiers punch above their weight because they mostly vote as a bloc.

— The retirement gives Democrats a prime pick-up opportunity, and some veteran GOP strategists are increasingly nervous that a stream of others will follow – especially if the House fails to put more legislative points on the board (e.g. overhauling the tax code) and the political winds continue to suggest major Democratic gains in the 2018 midterms.

— Dent has increasingly drawn the wrath of the Trumpist movement for his willingness to publicly express concerns about Trump that many of his House GOP colleagues are still only willing to say on background. The congressman called for Trump to drop out when the “Access Hollywood” tape emerged last October and then voted for independent Evan McMullin. Since January, he’s spoken out against the president’s travel ban, his firing of James Comey as FBI director and his false moral equivalency after Charlottesville.

Breitbart, again under Steve Bannon’s leadership, played up a story last Friday about an anti-Dent rally in Allentown that drew more than 100 conservative activists.

Pennsylvania state Rep. Justin Simmons announced on Wednesday that he would challenge Dent in a primary next year, emphasizing the incumbent’s lack of support for Trump. “Like many Republicans, I used to support Charlie Dent,” Simmons said in the press release kicking off his campaign. “But in the past year, Charlie Dent has completely gone off the rails.”

Dismissing the challenger as an opportunistic “phony,” Dent released embarrassing text messages that he received from him last year. One asked him to host a fundraiser to help in a contested primary. Another asked, “Do you think there’s any chance the party can replace Trump on the top of the ticket?”

Instead of facing off with Simmons, though, Dent is now stepping aside.

Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.) arrives for a House Republican Conference meeting. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.) arrives for a House Republican Conference meeting. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

— That surprise news came just one day after another seven-term moderate announced he will retire. Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.), who represents a suburban Seattle district that Hillary Clinton carried, is chairman of the House Ways and Means subcommittee on trade. Breaking with the protectionist president, Reichert’s goodbye statement emphasized the importance of free trade to the Pacific Northwest. “From serving on President Obama’s Export Council to battling to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank to leading the fight to pass the U.S.-Korea free trade agreement, I have always fought to give our exporters the chance to sell their goods and services around the world,” he wrote.

— A third moderate, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), also expressed concern about the direction of the party when she revealed her plan to step down this spring. The first Cuban American elected to Congress expressed confidence she’d get reelected, even though Clinton won her Miami district by 20 points, but she said the prospect of two more years in the current environment just didn’t appeal to her. “It was just a realization that I could keep getting elected — but it’s not about getting elected,” she told the Miami Heraldin April.

Ros-Lehtinen, the former chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has spoken out loudly against Trump since then, on issues like deportations (including DACA this week), transgender rights (her son is transgender) and budget cuts. “I’m not one of those name-callers that think the Democrats don’t have a single good idea,” she said. “Too many people think that way, and I think that’s to the detriment to civility and of good government.”

— Even as relations continue to fray between Republican congressional leaders and Trump, Democrats say these retirements are just the latest proof points that the Trumpists have completed their hostile takeover of the GOP. “With Trump in charge of the GOP, they might as well have a sign on the door that says ‘moderates need not apply,’” said Democratic strategist Jesse Ferguson, who previously ran the independent expenditure arm of the DCCC. “The last cell-block has fallen and now Trump’s rabble of inmates are running the asylum. Dare to stand up to Trumpism by thinking people should be able to keep their healthcare or by opposing white supremacists, and you’ll find there is no home for you in the Republican party any more. That’s dangerous for the next two years and for the next 20. Whether it’s in Seattle, Miami, or now Allentown, the GOP is pushing out the only leaders who could convince suburban voters there was a way to get a home in the Republican Party that wasn’t Trump-owned.

Charlie Dent does a TV hit in the Capitol. (J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press)

Charlie Dent does a TV hit in the Capitol. (J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press)

— A close ally of GOP leadership, Dent also serves as chairman of the House Ethics Committee and is a powerful “cardinal,” which in congressional parlance means that he chairs an Appropriations subcommittee. (He controls tens of billions in annual spending related to veterans’ affairs and military construction.)

— While acknowledging that Trump is a factor, Dent says that the trends driving him to give up this immense power predate the current president.

The ideological makeup of the House Republican conference has changed markedly since Newt Gingrich seized the majority in 1994. When the party won back the lower chamber in the 2010 midterms, after four years in the wilderness, the success of the tea party movement meant that there were relatively fewer moderates than before.

Republicans dominated the decennial redistricting process and drew lots of safely red districts. This meant that many House members became more vulnerable to a primary challenge from their right than a general election challenge from a Democrat. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor went down in a 2014 primary, and the Freedom Caucus formed the next year.

This created additional incentives for members to become part of the unofficial “vote no, hope yes” caucus. This is a group of Republicans who want spending bills and debt-ceiling increases to pass but won’t support them because they fear retaliation from outside conservative groups. The departure of Barack Obama from the Oval Office has lessened some of the reflexive, knee-jerk partisanship (it’s harder to tell Trump no), but “vote no, hope yes” remains a powerful force that House Speaker Paul Ryan must contend with every day.

Perversely, these “no” votes force Republican leaders to turn to Democrats for the necessary votes to pass key bills. That has given Nancy Pelosi more leverage than she would have otherwise had. The result is that final deals are often less conservative than they might be otherwise.

People like Dent, who considers himself a conservative, constantly bang their heads against the wall because of this dynamic. He explained last night that solving problems requires “negotiation, cooperation and, inevitably, compromise.”

The 57-year-old said he has been having “periodic discussions” with his wife and three kids about whether to stay in Congress ever “since the government shutdown in 2013.” He said discussions about retiring “increased in frequency” earlier this year, and that he made the decision to step down “in midsummer” – before he drew the primary challenger. “Accomplishing the most basic fundamental tasks of governance is becoming far too difficult,” Dent explained to The Washington Post’s Mike DeBonis in an interview last night. “It shouldn’t be, but that’s reality.”

Rep. Charlie Dent, left, and Rep. Pat Meehan walk to a meeting with fellow House Republicans at the Capitol on Wednesday. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Rep. Charlie Dent, left, and Rep. Pat Meehan walk to a meeting with fellow House Republicans at the Capitol on Wednesday. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

— The nonpartisan Cook Political Report plans to move Pennsylvania’s 15th District – which covers Allentown, Bethlehem and much of the Lehigh Valley – from “Solid Republican” to “Lean Republican” in ratings that will publish later today.

Trump carried the district by eight points last November, while Dent won reelection by 20 points. Obama won the 15th in 2008 and narrowly lost it in 2012.

Democrats see a great pickup opportunity. “After nine months of utter failure to get even the most basic things done for hardworking families, it’s no surprise that Dent is as sick and tired of the Republican party as the American people,” said DCCC spokesman Evan Lukaske.

The NRCC chairman, Rep. Steve Stivers, expressed confidence Republicans will hold the seat. “From reforming the broken VA to ensuring every child has access to a high-quality education, Congressman Dent has championed conservative values since taking office in 2005,” said Stivers (R-Ohio). “While his leadership in Congress will be sorely missed, I wish him the very best in the next chapter of his life.”

— Dent is the 13th Republican to leave the House since the start of 2017. Four accepted jobs in the Trump administration, and three more are running for governor. Dent is the sixth to retire without another position in mind.

As a point of comparison, seven Democrats have announced plans to leave the House. All but one (Rep. Niki Tsongas of Massachusetts) did so to run for higher office. Only one represents a district Trump won: Tim Walz, who is now a front-runner to become the next governor of Minnesota.

— To be fair, though, the current number of House members who are retiring remains far below the historical norm. Going back to 1976, an average of 22 House members have retired in each cycle without seeking a higher office. With Dent, we’re at just seven for this term. Contrary to some of the liberal commentary on places like Twitter and cable news, Trump has not opened the floodgates. At least not yet.”

********************************************

Imagine someone who fights to “fulfill the basic functions of government, like keeping the lights on and preventing default. Regrettably, that has not been easy given the disruptive outside influences that profit from increased polarization and ideological rigidity that leads to dysfunction, disorder and chaos.” What audacity! No wonder today’s GOP wants Dent out! Bakuninists believe that revolution is necessary to destroy government and order, not to govern.

PWS

09-08-17

PETULA DVORAK IN WASHPOST: DISHONEST LEADERS SOW “FALSE FEARS” WHILE IGNORING REAL THREATS!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/what-happens-when-a-presidency-runs-on-fakefears-real-fears-are-ignored/2017/09/07/83ead004-93d1-11e7-8754-d478688d23b4_story.html

Dvorak writes:

Fake fear is our new leader.

Washington’s new ruling class is not governing with compassion, common sense, measured research, knowledge of history or the future. Theirs is a doctrine of fake fears. And these same people also have a problem with things we should actually be afraid of.

Let me explain.

Fake Fear: The “bad hombres” President Donald Trump talked about during the campaign last year begot this week’s DACA repeal thing. Trump wants us to be afraid of these immigrants, and he’s ready to trash the lives of more than 800,000 Americans looking for a path to legal residency by killing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

The truth is that these immigrants, brought here as children by their parents, “have lower incarceration rates than native-born Americans of the same age and education level,” according to a report issued last week by the nonpartisan CATO Institute.

Real Fear: Hurricanes. You know them — from Katrina to Harvey to Irma — millions of people and billions of dollars tell you hurricanes devastate lives, cities and industries.

But Trump refuses to fear them. Earlier this year, he proposed a budget that slashed about $667 million for the disaster preparedness programs run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. That budget also proposed $6 billion in cuts to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which helps rebuild homes and hospitals.

The fake fear administration also killed a post-Katrina rule requiring building projects eligible for federal funding to take such measures as elevating structures in flood zones away from the reach of rising water before they get government cash. And they did this just in time for hurricane season.

But hey, the $108 billion in damage and the 1,800 lives lost in Hurricane Katrina must not mean much when it your moral compass is fake fear.

Fake fear: The apparent crime wave that Attorney General Jeff Sessions keeps warning Americans about.

“We have a crime problem,” Sessions said in February. “I wish the rise that we are seeing in crime in America today were some sort of aberration or a blip. My best judgment, having been involved in criminal law enforcement for many years, is that this is a dangerous, permanent trend that places the health and safety of the American people at risk.”

But the facts say otherwise.

This year is on pace to have the second-lowest violent crime rate of any year since 1990, according to a report by the Brennan Center for Justice this week that analyzed statistics from the nation’s 30 largest cities.

Real fear: Though we’ve seen more and more horrifying videos of civilians being shot by police officers, we still have little comprehensive data that shows how often this happens and how agencies can prevent these tragedies.

“What we really need to know is how many times police shoot people, not just how many of those people die,” David A. Klinger, a criminal justice professor at the University of Missouri in St. Louis who studies police use of force, told The Washington Post earlier this summer.

The Post began compiling this information in 2015, relying on local news, social media and our own reporting.

This is a real fear for real people. This is true whether you’re a black man, such as beloved cafeteria worker Philando Castile, who was doing nothing wrong when he was killed in Minnesota last year by a nervous police officer. And it’s true if you’re a white woman, like nurse Alex Wubbels, who was seen in a viral video last week being roughed up and arrested by a Utah detective for simply doing her job. The fake fear people seem to have little interest in addressing this problem.

The FBI’s weak, self-reporting system that has been the only way to track this was called “embarrassing and ridiculous” by fired FBI director James B. Comey.

Fake fear: Muslims in America. Trump’s attempts at a travel ban, fulfilling his campaign promise of a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” have reinforced a growing and misplaced Islamophobia throughout our country. We’ve seen the fake-fear sentiment in workplaces, in small-town councils trying to mess with mosques that have been peaceful and unnoticed for years, and I even saw it one of my sons’ sports teams this summer.

The truth is, from 2008 to 2016, right-wing extremists carried out twice as many terrorist attacks on U.S. soil than Islamist extremists, according to a recent report from The Nation Institute’s Investigative Fund and The Center for Investigative Reporting’s Reveal.

Real Fear: White supremacists in America. The FBI and Department of Homeland Security issued a joint intelligence bulletin that said white supremacists “were responsible for 49 homicides in 26 attacks from 2000 to 2016 … more than any other domestic extremist movement.”

They issued this statement just a couple months before the protests in Charlottesville, where an avowed Nazi sympathizer was arrested after a car drove into a crowd, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others. There is no mistaking that was real.

We deserve real care and real concern from our leaders when it comes to real fears. There’s no shortage of them.

Let’s start by calling out #FakeFears when we see them. Washington is full of those these days, too.

*************************************************

Dvorak succinctly captures what White Nationalist governance and propaganda is all about: fear, loathing, lies. Too cowardly to address real problems because that might offend the “White Nationalist base” that put and keeps them in power.

PWS

09-08-17

JEFFREY SACHS ON CNN: GOVERNMENT BY “ABBOTT & COSTELLO” — In Texas, It’s All Bigger, Including The Jerks!

http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/29/opinions/hurricane-harvey-abbott-needs-to-resign-sachs/index.html

Sachs writes:

“(CNN)It’s important to politicize Hurricane Harvey. Not politics in the sense of political parties, or politics to win elections. Politics to protect America.

The priority in the next hours and days is to save lives and reduce suffering, without hesitation and without question of costs or politics. But then must come the reckoning.

Once the immediate crisis ends, the governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, should resign with an apology to his state and his country. Then the Texas delegation in Congress should make a public confession. They have lied to their constituents for too long, expecting the rest of America to keep bailing them out.
The reason is this. Texas politics aims to bring profits to the oil and gas industry, but it does this at high cost and dire threat to Texas residents and the American people.
Hurricane Harvey was a foreseeable disaster. Indeed, a massive hurricane strike on Houston, followed by massive flooding, was widely anticipated.
But Houston is an oil town, and the American oil industry has been enemy No. 1 of climate truth and climate preparedness. Most oil companies and Texas politicians see nothing, say nothing, do nothing. Even worse, they hide the truth, and then beg for help as needed. Gov. Abbott has played this game one disaster too many.

Abbott, for example, was the governor to sign a new law in 2015 that prevents cities and municipalities in Texas from setting their own regulations that might rein in oil and gas drilling activities. On his watch, Texas supported withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement.
Over many years, he has raked in millions in campaign contributions from the oil industry, including in his former role as Texas attorney general, where he sued the Environmental Protection Agency repeatedly over rules designed to curb carbon emissions.
And the state, under Abbott’s direction, has taken no significant steps toward flood protection, despite the recognized risks of a mega-hurricane and flood.
The problem is not about his crisis management this week. I can’t judge that. It’s about his long-standing relentless opposition to environmental protection, including his blind eye to global warming and the grave dangers it poses.
The Texas Tribune and ProPublica published a 2016 award-winning report on “Hell or High Water,” explaining why Houston is a “sitting duck for the next big hurricane.” In 2015, Inside Climate News wrote that “as weather extremes like flooding batter Texas, its refusal to prepare for an even more volatile climate leaves residents at risk, experts say.”
On June 16 of this year, citing the city’s widening concrete sprawl and deaths from flooding in recent years, the UK Guardian wrote that “Houston fears climate change will cause catastrophic flooding: It’s not if, it’s when.”

. . . .

So, what has been the policy response in Houston and Texas more generally in terms of prevention, resilience, and preparedness? Almost nothing until disaster hits. Then the response is to ask for federal bailouts.
In other words, Texas is the moral hazard state.
Here is what has not happened: There has been little or no effort at zoning protection to keep development clear of floodplains; little or no offshore and onshore infrastructure for flood protection; no discernible heed paid to the scientific evidence and indeed the growing practical experience of catastrophic flood risks; and of course, relentless, pervasive climate change denial, the mother’s milk of Texas politics.
So, here’s the deal. Those of us elsewhere in the US also suffering from flooding and other disasters from warming temperatures, rising sea levels, and more intense storms (such as New Yorkers who are still rebuilding from 2012 Hurricane Sandy) want truth from Texas politicians and the oil industry.
We are bearing the costs of your lies. We are tired of it. More importantly, we are in pain and solidarity with the good people of Houston who are losing lives, homes, and livelihoods because of your lies.
Why Harvey's devastation is so severe
Why Harvey’s devastation is so severe
Gov. Abbott, we would like to bid you a political adieu. Perhaps you can devote your time to rebuilding Houston and taking night classes in climate science. Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, you will soon be asking us for money to help Texas.
My answer will be yes, if you stop spewing lies about climate dangers, agree to put US and Texas policy under the guidance of climate science, back measures to lower carbon emissions and stay in the Paris Climate Agreement. Then, of course, let’s help your constituents to rebuild.
And to ExxonMobil, Chevron, Koch Industries, ConocoPhillips, Halliburton, and other oil giants doing your business in Texas: You put up the first $25 billion in Houston disaster relief. Call it compensation for your emissions. Tell the truth about growing climate threats. Then, as citizens seeking the common good, we will match your stake.”

********************************

The “common good” is something that never crosses the collective so-called “minds” of Texas’s corrupt GOP pols. They are all bought and paid for by “Big Oil” and other fat cats. And, they are busy picking on Blacks, Hispanics, refugees, migrants, children, the poor, gays, Muslims, Dreamers, etc.

So, not for the first time, it’s for the rest of us taxpayers to bail out Texas. (But, don’t think that will earn the support of hypocrites like Cruz & Co. the next time we might be in need — they are cruel, ignorant, and selfish because — well, because they can be and get away with it). Fortunately for Texas, some of us still do have the common good in mind.

PWS

08-30-17

 

THE HILL: NOLAN’S PROPOSAL FOR AVOIDING A SHUTDOWN, SAVING DREAMERS, & GIVING TRUMP SOME WALL!

http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/immigration/348280-trump-strike-a-deal-trade-border-wall-funding-for-daca

Nolan Rappaport writes in The Hill:

“Despite the difficulty of the task, give Trump a chance to show what he can do. This can be done by properly funding the existing border security legislation.

Provide Trump with the funding needed to finish the southwest border fencing project mandated by the bipartisan Secure Fence Act of 2006.

The Secure Fence Act was passed in the Senate 80 to 19. The yeas included current Senate party leaders Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and former Senators Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.).

It mandated 850 miles of fencing along the southwest border, but as amended by section 564 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008, it just requires DHS to “construct reinforced fencing along not less than 700 miles of the southwest border where fencing would be most practical and effective.”

DHS has constructed just 653 miles of fencing.

When Trump has completed the last 47 miles of this project, he will be able to show Congress the kind of wall he wants for the rest of the border and provide a reliable estimate of what it would cost.

To incentivize Trump to accept this alternative, Congress should assist him with his border security efforts by weakening the “job magnet,” the fact that undocumented aliens generally come here to find employment.

Congress tried to eliminate this magnet with an employer sanctions program in the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA), but it has been more than 30 years since the program was established and it still has not been fully implemented.

According to a report by Georgetown’s Institute for the Study of International Migration, unscrupulous employers “knowingly hire unauthorized workers to exploit their labor.” For instance, they “pay salaries in cash, failing to pay their share of social security taxes.”

The Department of Labor (DOL) enforces labor laws that curb such abuses without regard to employee immigration status, e.g., the Fair Labor Standards Act, which mandates minimum wages, overtime pay, youth employment, and other standards for all employees.

Congress can provide Trump with the funding DOL needs for a nationwide campaign to stop the exploitation of employees in industries known to hire undocumented aliens. This would weaken the job magnet and reduce the number of illegal border crossings.

But the president isn’t the only player congressional Republicans need to persuade to accept a compromise. To prevent a government shutdown (and fund Trump’s border wall), they will also need Democrats. What may be enough to persuade them is protecting an Obama-era immigration program.

On June 15, 2012, President Barack Obama established a program to offer temporary lawful status to undocumented aliens who were brought here as children, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

The application process required them to admit alienage and concede unlawful presence, and to provide their addresses, which makes it easy for them to be arrested and deported.

In a June 2017 letter, state attorney generals asked U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to terminate DACA. If he does not do it, they will amend a pending lawsuit in a Federal District Court to include a challenge to DACA.

The administration apparently does not intend to defend DACA in court if it is included in the lawsuit. Moreover, recent media reports indicate that Trump is likely to rescind the program.

The Democrats might be more receptive to the measures I have proposed if they are offered a separate bill that would protect DACA participants from deportation if the program is terminated.

Nothing good will come from a showdown between Trump and the Senate over funding his wall. They need to prevent that from happening.”

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Read Nolan’s complete op-ed over at The Hill at the above link.

 

PWS

08-29-18

THE ASYLUMIST — JASON DZUBOW: AS TRUMP FANS THE FLAMES OF FEAR, HATE, & DESPAIR, IMMIGRANTS & REFUGEES INSPIRE & GIVE US HOPE FOR A BETTER FUTURE!

http://www.asylumist.com/2017/08/17/in-a-time-of-hate-my-refugee-clients-give-me-hope/

Jason’s complete blog is reprinted below:

“In a Time of Hate, My Refugee Clients Give Me Hope

by JASON DZUBOW on AUGUST 17, 2017

As an ordinary citizen, it is not easy to decide the best way to confront a Nazi march. Show up to peacefully protest? That might give additional attention to the other side. Protest violently? Not only could that elevate the Nazis, it might also de-legitimize the resistance to the Nazis (even those who peacefully resist). Ignore them? That might be viewed as condoning their views. Reasonable people can differ about what to do, at least as far as the peaceful responses are concerned.

As a great American philosopher once said, “I hate Nazis.”

But when you are a public figure, especially an elected official, the decision about how to respond is clear: First, ensure safety and free speech. Second, denounce the evils of Nazism and make it plain that Nazis, Klan members, and anyone who might march side-by-side with such people are un-American, illegitimate, and unworthy of a seat at the table of public discourse.

Fortunately, the vast majority of our country’s elected leaders knew what to say in response to the Nazi march last weekend. But unfortunately, there was one important exception–our President, Donald J. Trump. To me, Mr. Trump’s contemptible silence, followed by a reluctant “denunciation” of the Nazis, followed by a denunciation of the “denunciation” is an utter disgrace. It is a green light to Nazis. It is yet another attack on common decency and on our shared national values. It is complicity with Nazism. By the President of the United States. (As an aside, one of my lawyer-friends at the Justice Department told me–perhaps half jokingly–that she wanted to post a sign in her office that reads, “Nazis are bad,” but she feared it might get her into trouble–that is where we are under Mr. Trump.)

Frankly, I am not particularly worried about the Nazis themselves. They certainly can do damage–they murdered a young woman and injured many others. But they do not have the power or support to threaten our democracy. This does not mean we should take them for granted (few would have predicted Hitler’s rise when he was sitting in prison after the Beerhall Putsch), but we should not be unduly fearful either.

On the other hand, I am very worried about our President’s behavior. His governing philosophy (perhaps we can call it, “trickle down histrionics”) is poisoning our public debate, and it weakens us domestically and internationally. Thus far, his incompetence has served as a bulwark against his malevolence, but that can only go on for so long (see, e.g., North Korea). So there is much to be concerned about.

Here, though, I want to talk about hope. Specifically, the hope that I feel from my clients: Asylum seekers, “illegals,” and other immigrants. There are several reasons my clients give me hope.

One reason is that they still believe in the American Dream. Despite all of the nastiness, mendacity, and bigotry coming from the White House, people still want to come to America. They are voting with their feet. Some endure seemingly endless waits, often times separated from their loved ones, in order to obtain legal status here. Others risk their lives to get here. They don’t do this because (as Mr. Trump suggests) they want to harm us. They do it because they want to join us. They want to be part of America. My clients and others like them represent the American ideal far better than those, like our embattled President and his racist friends, who disparage them. When I see my country through my clients’ eyes, it gives me hope.

My clients’ stories also give me hope. Most of my clients are asylum seekers. They have escaped repressive regimes or failing states. Where they come from, the government doesn’t just tweet nasty comments about its opponents, it tortures and murders them. The terrorist groups operating in my clients’ countries regularly harm and kill noncombatants, women, children, and even babies. My clients have stood against this depravity, and many of them continue to fight for democracy, justice, and human rights from our shores. My clients’ perseverance in the face of evil gives me hope.

Finally, I have hope because I see the courage of my clients, who refuse to be cowed by the hateful rhetoric of our Commander-in-Chief. Since the early days of his campaign, Mr. Trump has demonized foreigners and refugees, and after he was sworn in as President, these individuals were the first to come into his cross hairs. If he can defeat people like my clients, he can move on to new targets. But many refugees and asylum seekers have been subject to far worse treatment than Mr. Trump’s bluster, and they are ready to stand firm against his bullying. Their fortitude encourages others to stand with them. And stand with them we will. The fact that vulnerable, traumatized people are on the front lines of this fight, and that they will not surrender, gives me hope.

I have written before about the tangible benefits of our humanitarian immigration system. It demonstrates to the world that our principles–democracy, human rights, freedom, justice–are not empty platitudes. It shows that we support people who work with us and who advance the values we hold dear. When such people know that we have their backs, they will be more willing to work with us going forward. And of course, that system helps bring people to the United States whose talents and energy benefit our entire nation. Add to this list one more benefit that asylees and refugees bring to our nation in this dark time–hope.”

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Thanks, Jason!

The irony and extreme contrast between those hollowly claiming to “Make America Great” and those who are actually “making America great” is simply stunning.

PWS

08-18-17

 

 

JASON DZUBOW IN THE ASYLUMIST: TRUMP’S 101 YEAR PLAN FOR REMOVALS! — “Malevolence tempered by incompetence!”

http://www.asylumist.com/2017/07/27/president-trumps-101-year-deportation-plan/

Jason writes:

“Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong had their five-year plans. Nikita Khrushchev had his seven-year plan. And now President Trump has a 101-year plan. That’s how long it will take to deport the country’s 11 million undocumented residents if current trends continue.

Happy Birthday! Now, get the hell out of my country!

The most recent statistics on case completions in Immigration Court show that the Trump Administration has issued an average of 8,996 removal (deportation) orders per month between February and June 2017 (and 11,000,000 divided by 8,996 cases/month = 1,222.8 months, or 101.9 years). That’s up from 6,913 during the same period last year, but still well-below the peak period during the early days of the Obama Administration, when courts were issuing 13,500 removal orders each month.

Of course, the Trump Administration has indicated that it wants to ramp up deportations, and to that end, the Executive Office for Immigration Review or EOIR–the office that oversees the nation’s Immigration Courts–plans to hire more Immigration Judges (“IJs”). Indeed, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, the Attorney General (at least for now) announced that EOIR would hire 50 more judges this year and 75 next year.

Assuming EOIR can find 125 new IJs, and also assuming that no currently-serving judges retire (a big assumption given that something like 50% of our country’s IJs are eligible to retire), then EOIR will go from 250 IJs to 375. So instead of 101 years to deport the nation’s 11 million undocumented residents, it will only take 68 years (assuming that no new people enter the U.S. illegally or overstay their visas, and assuming my math is correct–more big assumptions).

But frankly, I’m doubtful that 68 years–or even 101 years–is realistic. It’s partly that more people are entering the population of “illegals” all the time, and so even as the government chips away at the 11,000,000 figure, more people are joining that club, so to speak. Worse, from the federal government’s point of view, there is not enough of a national consensus to deport so many people, and there is significant legal resistance to Mr. Trump’s immigration agenda.

In addition to all this, there is the Trump Administration’s modus operandi, which is best characterized as malevolence tempered by incompetence. One statistic buried in the recent deportation numbers illustrates this point. In March 2017, judges issued 10,110 removal orders. A few months later, in June, judges issued 8,919 removal orders.

This means that the number of deportation orders dropped by 1,191 or about 11.8%. How can this be? In a word: Incompetence (I suppose if I wanted to be more generous—which I don’t—I could say, Inexperience). The Trump Administration has no idea how to run the government and their failure in the immigration realm is but one example.

There are at least a couple ways the Administration’s incompetence has manifested itself at EOIR.

One is in the distribution of judges. It makes sense to send IJs where they are needed. But that’s not exactly what is happening. Maybe it’s just opening night jitters for the new leadership at EOIR. Maybe they’ll find their feet and get organized. But so far, it seems EOIR is sending judges to the border, where they are underutilized. While this may have the appearance of action (which may be good enough for this Administration), the effect—as revealed in the statistical data—is that fewer people are actually being deported.

As I wrote previously, the new Acting Director of EOIR has essentially no management experience, and it’s still unclear whether he is receiving the support he needs, or whether his leadership team has the institutional memory to navigate the EOIR bureaucracy. Perhaps this is part of the reason for the inefficient use of judicial resources.

Another reason may be that shifting judges around is not as easy as moving pieces on a chess board. The IJs have families, homes, and ties to their communities. Not to mention a union to protect them (or try to protect them) from management. And it doesn’t help that many Immigration Courts are located in places that you wouldn’t really want to live, if you had a choice. So getting judges to where you need them, and keeping them there for long enough to make a difference, is not so easy.

A second way the Trump Administration has sabotaged itself is related to prosecutorial discretion or PD. In the pre-Trump era, DHS attorneys (the “prosecutors” in Immigration Court) had discretion to administratively close cases that were not a priority. This allowed DHS to focus on people who they wanted to deport: Criminals, human rights abusers, people perceived as a threat to national security. In other words, “Bad Hombres.” Now, PD is essentially gone. By the end of the Obama Administration, 2,400 cases per month were being closed through PD. Since President Trump came to office, the average is less than 100 PD cases per month. The result was predictable: DHS can’t prioritize cases and IJs are having a harder time managing their dockets. In essence, if everyone is a deportation priority, no one is a deportation priority.

Perhaps the Trump Administration hopes to “fix” these problems by making it easier to deport people. The Administration has floated the idea of reducing due process protections for non-citizens. Specifically, they are considering expanding the use of expedited removal, which is a way to bypass Immigration Courts for certain aliens who have been in the U.S. for less than 90 days. But most of the 11 million undocumented immigrants have been here much longer than that, and so they would not be affected. Also, expansion of expedited removal would presumably trigger legal challenges, which may make it difficult to implement.

Another “fix” is to prevent people from coming here in the first place. Build the wall. Deny visas to people overseas. Scare potential immigrants so they stay away. Illegally turn away asylum seekers at the border. Certainly, all this will reduce the number of people coming to America. But the cost will be high. Foreign tourists, students, and business people add many billions to our economy. Foreign scholars, scientists, artists, and other immigrants contribute to our country’s strength. Whether the U.S. is willing to forfeit the benefits of the global economy in order to restrict some people from coming or staying here unlawfully, I do not know. But the forces driving migration are powerful, and so I have real doubts that Mr. Trump’s efforts will have more than a marginal impact, especially over the long run. And even if he could stop the flow entirely, it still leaves 11 million people who are already here.

There is an obvious alternative to Mr. Trump’s plan. Instead of wasting billions of dollars, harming our economy, and ripping millions of families apart, why not move towards a broad legalization for those who are here? Focus on deporting criminals and other “bad hombres,” and leave hard-working immigrants in peace. Sadly, this is not the path we are on. And so, sometime in 2118, perhaps our country will finally say adieu to its last undocumented resident.”

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Amen!

PWS

08-14-17