Sunday, November 30, 2014
Saturday, November 29, 2014
Thursday, November 27, 2014
Appropriations: Hal Rogers (KY)
The appropriations committee exists to do one thing: spend taxpayer money. With its "power of the purse," appropriators are responsible for the annual parceling out of federal funds through 12 appropriations bills targeting particular government functions.
Rep. Hal Rogers (KY) will remain its chairman. Nicknamed the "Prince of Pork" because of his zeal for sending taxpayer money back to his district, Rogers is an old-school establishment spender. Thanks to Congress (accidentally) agreeing to limit discretionary spending via the 2011 Budget Control Act, Rogers has been kept in relative check. Rogers would like to bust the current budget caps and misses dishing out pork via earmarks. He's currently pushing for an omnibus appropriations bill that would fund the government for the rest of fiscal year 2015. The preferable course would be to pass another continuing resolution until the GOP takes complete control of Congress in the New Year when it would have more power over spending (of course, that generously assumes the GOP will actually do something constructive with regard to spending cuts). Regardless, Rogers is not—and will never be—of help in pursuing a smaller federal government.
Agriculture: Mike Conaway (TX)
Farm bills are born in the agriculture committees. Conaway is a vocal supporter of the farm bill as it exists currently and he has already made it clear that he supports keeping the federal trough flowing to wealthy farmers, albeit in what he thinks is a more "free-market way." The uncomfortable truth, however, is that subsidies aren't free-market. Conaway also says that he wants to review the food stamps program and notes that "every federal dollar spent is a dollar taken from a hardworking American." That's true, but it's disturbing that he has no problem taking dollars away from hardworking Americans and handing them over to his mostly wealthy backers in the agriculture industry.
Armed Services: Mac Thornberry (TX)
On the bright side, Thornberry acknowledges that the Pentagon's procurement system is a mess and intends to do something about it. However, the best way to make the government more efficient at doing something is to give it less to do. Unfortunately, Thornberry is a typical conservative when it comes to supporting an expansive foreign policy agenda. He supports the United States' global military empire and he supports spending more money on "national defense" than the current budget restraints allow.
Budget: Tom Price (GA)
Rep. Price replaces Paul Ryan on the Budget Committee and is thus responsible for creating the annual House version of a budget blueprint. Price was a supporter of outgoing Chairman Ryan's "Path to Prosperity." While arguably better than the status quo, it called for "saving" the federal government's massive entitlement-welfare state, "fixing" the overgrown "safety net," and spending more money on the Pentagon. That makes him a strong conservative—not necessarily a proponent for limited government.
Education & the Workforce: John Kline (MN)
Rep. Kline retains the Education and the Workforce (i.e, labor-related programs) gavel. He says that "we can no longer accept a broken [education] system," but he's only interested in tinkering with the federal interventions that helped break it. The federal government should be removed from the issue of education, period. Unfortunately, Kline hasn't moved the ball in the direction and isn't expected to do anything differently this time around.
Energy & Commerce: Fred Upton (MI)
Rep. Upton retains the Energy gavel, which should be remembered for passing the so-called "No More Solyndras Act" in 2012. Not only did the legislation do no such thing, Upton and most of his Republican colleagues voted against an amendment that would have actually ended the Title 17 energy loan program. Upton supports an "all of the above" approach to federal energy policy. What that means is the he supports federal subsidies on everything from fossil fuels to "green" energy. President Obama embraces the same approach.
Financial Services: Jeb Hensarling (TX)
Rep. Hensarling remains in charge of the House Financial Services committee. He opposed the TARP bailout and efforts to water down federal flood insurance reforms that were intended to protect taxpayers. Hensarling has also tried to end the federal government's role in backstopping mortgages and he has led the charge against the cronyist Ex-Im Bank. As far I know, he is the only chairman calling for the abolition of any programs.
Homeland Security: Michael McCaul (TX)
Looks like he's pro-Patriot Act, pro-war on drugs, and pro-military empire.
Small Business: Steve Chabot (OH)
The ideal chairman of the House Small Business Committee would seek to have the Small Business Administration abolished. Rep. Chabot, the committee's new chairman, has co-sponsored legislation to "simplify" the SBA loan process, but simplifying something that shouldn't exist in the first place isn't the goal.
Transportation & Infrastructure: Bill Shuster (PA)
Rep. Bill Shuster retains the gavel for the transportation committee that his father, Bud, infamously chaired—and the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Given Shuster the Younger's methodical rise to the committee's chair, it's not surprising that he embraces an oversized federal role for the nation's transportation and infrastructure needs. That's unfortunate given that now is an excellent time to focus on returning those responsibilities to state and local government, and most importantly, the private sector.
Ways & Means: Paul Ryan (WI)
Rep. Ryan will be focused on tax reform. That isn't happening while Obama is in the White House.
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Monday, November 24, 2014
Sunday, November 23, 2014
Turmoil Over Immigration Status? California Has Lived It for Decades
LOS ANGELES — There may be no better place than California to measure the contradictions, crosswinds and confusion that come with trying to change immigration law.
For 30 years, California has been the epicenter of the churn of immigration — legal and not — in the nation. It was California where Pete Wilson, the Republican governor, championed in 1994 a voter initiative known as Proposition 187, which severely restricted services to immigrants here illegally. And it was California where just last year, Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, held a celebratory, dignitary-filled signing of legislation permitting unauthorized workers to obtain driver's licenses.
One-third of the immigrants in the country illegally live in California, which has a 125-mile border with Mexico, much of it guarded by long stretches of border fence. They work on farms in the Central Valley, in manufacturing jobs in Los Angeles, and as housekeepers and gardeners in Silicon Valley, alongside a steady stream of young legal immigrants who hold high-skilled jobs in Northern California's critical tech industry.
They come mostly from Mexico but also from Central America, the Philippines, South Korea and Japan. Commercial boulevards in the heart of Los Angeles are a riot of Korean-language signs, and in many neighborhoods in San Francisco the talk on the street is as likely to be in Spanish or Chinese as it is English.Continue reading the main story
The Impact of Obama's Immigration Plan Across California
The patchwork of regulations in President Obama's executive action will resonate in different ways for foreign workers in Silicon Valley, farmworkers in the Central Valley and entrepreneurs in Los Angeles. The changes may prevent deportation of more than half of the roughly 2.5 million who are in the state illegally.
Est. pct. of population who
are unauthorized immigrants
And while many undocumented immigrants take pains not to draw attention to their status, California nonetheless offers the prospect of a more open existence than much of the country does, albeit in an ask-no-questions fashion. Given the way many of these immigrants are already treated by the state, be it with the issuing of driver's licenses or some health insurance, President Obama's executive action on immigration was almost anticlimactic to many people here.
"We are the state that has the most settled immigrant population in terms of people who have been in the country for 10 years," said Manuel Pastor, a co-director of the Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration at the University of Southern California. "We went through our Prop. 187 moment. We are at the other end. People will be eager to make this happen, because they realize we are going to get comprehensive immigration reform at some point."Continue reading the main story
Est. pct. of population who
are unauthorized immigrants
Unauthorized immigrants in Los Angeles are among the most settled in the country — many have been here at least 10 years. They contribute to about 7 percent of the region's economy. This area, which has more than one million unauthorized immigrants, had the largest number of people who were approved for a two-year deportation deferral under the president's initial program that began in 2012.
Indeed, more than half the undocumented immigrants in California have lived here at least 10 years — far more than anyplace else in the country — and one-sixth of the children in California have at least one parent here illegally, according to Mr. Pastor's center. That was illuminated by Mr. Obama's expansion of the deportation protection program, since it was based largely on how long immigrants have resided here and whether they have American-born children.
"My parents are going to be able to qualify under this program," said Paola Fernandez, 28, a representative of the Service Employees International Union who lives in Bakersfield. She was brought here as a child and got permission to stay under Mr. Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. She has two younger siblings who were born here, which bodes well for her parents.
"We've been here close to 25 years," Ms. Fernandez said. "On a very personal level, this is a very amazing moment."
At the same time, the extent of the illegal immigrant population here spotlighted limitations in what the president had to offer last week. Most notably, farmworkers in the Central Valley found themselves divided between those whose children were born in the United States or who are permanent legal residents — and thus eligible for the blanket of Mr. Obama's action — and those who had children in their home country or not at all.Continue reading the main story
Nearly 40 percent of immigrants in the Central Valley are estimated to be here illegally, and nearly half of them are employed in agriculture. Some farmworkers may benefit from the president's executive action because they have children born in the United States. But for the many farmworkers who have no family here, their status will remain the same.
Parents eligible for new
deferred action program
San Luis Obispo
Rest of U.S.
Est. pct. of
"I'm scared that my family will be torn apart," said Maria Ramos, 21, who moved here from Zacatecas, Mexico, in 1994 and was granted a deferral in 2012 while her parents remained here illegally. "It's scary to think my mom could get deported. They're going to tear our family apart. I wouldn't want that for other people to experience."
There are few states where immigrants are as integral to the economy, whether in farming, manufacturing or basic services. And many analysts suggested that those different forces were reflected in the White House's attempt to parse the differing demands of, in particular, Silicon Valley, with its thirst for high-end technology workers, and the Central Valley, with its overwhelming demand for inexpensive labor to work on the farms.Continue reading the main story
The Bay Area and Silicon Valley
While there are a significant number of unauthorized workers in this area, much of the focus has been on legal, temporary workers. San Francisco and San Jose are among the top areas that request H-1B visas for highly skilled workers, and the president's plan disappointed the tech community by not increasing the cap on the number of H-1Bs issued. The plan does help fill science and technology jobs by expanding a program that allows foreign students to remain in the country temporarily for training.
Est. pct. of population who
are unauthorized immigrants
In Silicon Valley, Mr. Obama offered a limited promise to open the doors to high-skilled legal immigrants brought here by technology companies, while making it slightly easier for those already here and eager to switch jobs without putting their immigration status in jeopardy.
Sujoy Gupta, an Indian immigrant who came to the United States in 2003 to study and now works at a start-up called AppDirect in San Francisco, said the current visa rules made it difficult for him and his wife, Pooja Madaan, who works in marketing, to change employers, travel or buy a home.
"So every time I change my job, I have to reapply for my visa," he said in an interview in his San Francisco home on Friday. That is likely to change now.
These changes were less than what Silicon Valley business leaders wanted but stood in contrast with agriculture, where the White House resisted requests to create a waiver for farmworkers. Half the agriculture workers in the Central Valley have immigrated here illegally.Continue reading the main story
Regina M Valdez1 minute ago
To Everyone who Has it Wrong:Illegal Immigrants DO NOT receive:food stampswelfareunemployment benefitsdisability benefitssocial security...
JK1 minute ago
California is 'refreshed' by the new immigrant population that enters the state every year. It is vital to our state to have new workers...
CNYorker1 minute ago
A constant meme running throughout this so-called conversation is that undocumented immigrants committed some major transgression unlike...
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"A major part of the work force that harvests the crops is undocumented, and it's time we just recognized that," said Greg Wegis, the president of the Kern County Farm Bureau.
Esther Cervantes, 53, who came here illegally nearly 20 years ago and packs the grapes her husband picks, paid to have her children brought over in 2000; they all received deportation deferrals under Mr. Obama's earlier act and are thus assured a future here.
"I was expecting this to help me," she said. "But for me, there's nothing. I don't have children who are citizens or residents."
There has been a thriving underground economy across the state involving undocumented immigrants: the child care workers for wealthy software developers in Silicon Valley, where 8 percent of the work force is unauthorized, or the gardeners for estates in Beverly Hills. Presumably, that will come more into the open and, with it, promises for more job stability, an increased ability to change jobs and less fear of harassment by employers taking advantage of their vulnerability, said Reshma Shamasunder, the executive director of the California Immigrant Policy Center.
"It's going to be an important contribution to the California economy both in terms of raising revenues, but also the security of the work force," she said.
While other states may resist Mr. Obama's initiative, California officials are already looking to expand existing programs to help immigrants here illegally. At La Raza Community Resource Center in San Francisco's Mission District, which instructs immigrants on what kinds of documents they may need to apply for legal status, officials are preparing to help people take advantage of the new policy.
"Once people know more about it, there will be a lot of interest," said Carl Larsen Santos, the center's immigration program coordinator. "The psychological impact of having a work permit and not living in fear will be a huge boon to the community."
California has had some notable pockets of resistance to immigrants, most recently over the summer when protesters carrying signs and American flags met three buses of immigrant mothers and children in the city of Murrieta. But over all, this is a state that has embraced measures intended to make it easier for immigrants to live and work within its borders. A survey by the Pew Research Center last week found that of the 11.2 million illegal immigrants in the United States, 2.5 million live in California.
"California is more politically and emotionally evolved on this topic than the rest of the country," said Bill Whalen, a fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and a former long-term aide to Mr. Wilson. "We have been through this for 20 years now. It's the California existence: You are familiar with illegal immigration, you probably tapped into it in some way — hiring someone illegally to look after your children or tend your lawn."
Matt A. Barreto, a professor of political science at the University of Washington in Seattle, said that even before the president's action, California held itself forth as a model on immigration. "Across a variety of issues and policies, California has been a laboratory for the nation, forecasting and foreshadowing what might happen nationally," he said.
Adam Nagourney reported from Los Angeles; Ian Lovett from Bakersfield, Calif.; and Vindu Goel from San Francisco. Reporting was contributed by Richard Pérez-Peña from San Francisco, and Matt Hamilton, Brandon Shaw and Kimiya Shokoohi from Los Angeles.
A version of this article appears in print on November 23, 2014, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: Immigration's Turmoil? California Has Lived It. Order Reprints| Today's Paper|Subscribe
Saturday, November 22, 2014