Yet another member of the Bush family has demonstrated an uncanny ability to flinch on immigration.
Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor, has long advocated a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, roughly in line with current thinking of a bipartisan group in Congress. Yet in a new book he has written with Clint Bolick, Immigration Wars, Bush has flip-flopped on the question of the path to citizenship.
“Those who violated the law can remain but cannot obtain the cherished fruits of citizenship,” Bush and Bolick wrote.
That’s disappointing, much like the failure of Jeb’s brother George W. to push the bipartisan immigration reform bill his administration favored through Congress in 2007.
In interviews since the book’s release, Jeb Bush has retraced and gone back to supporting avenues to citizenship.
To CNN, he had this to say: “Today the only path to come to this country other than family reunification is to come illegally. We need to create another category of legal immigration where there is actually a line. So if you could create that through a path to citizenship, I would support that.”
Well, what’s it going to be? It’s important to know; Bush might be the next Republican nominee for president.
With Congress set to take up comprehensive immigration reform, there simply isn’t time to waste on waffling. The Republican Party and its leading figures must decide: Are they going to join the movement for reform or are they going to keep up their long-standing campaign to demean undocumented immigrants?
For the last couple of decades, the conservative demagogues opposed to sensible immigration reform have worked hard to brand this issue as one of law and order. They have made an epithet out of an adjective — “illegals” — as a way to characterize undocumented immigrants as by nature criminal and, as such, unfit for U.S. citizenship.
Most Americans know better. Bush knows better too. A good portion of the book shows how deeply he understands the nuances of immigration law and policy. He discusses the fact that it is nearly impossible for many of the people who wind up illegally in the country to arrive legally.
He advocates clearing up the backlogs on visa requests based on family relationships by changing those systems and creating new avenues for legal immigration. He knows that many immigrants are seeking work and calls for doubling the number of work-based visas for both highly skilled and guest workers.
Let’s recognize that most undocumented immigrants live among us to work; let’s also acknowledge that American employers and consumers have benefitted greatly from the low-wage labor these people provide.
OK, now we can talk about legal status.
Some Americans worry about the message it would send if we were to extend the possibility of citizenship to people who have broken the law to live in our country. One way to allay these fears is to reserve this chance for those immigrants with no criminal convictions, who don’t have problems with domestic abuse or substance abuse, who have a work record, who are able and willing to support themselves and their families.
In recent days, Bush has stressed that he doesn’t want to create incentives that might cause more people to come to this country illegally. But this too reveals a sleight of hand about what he clearly understands about the current immigration system.
If the U.S. truly wanted to eliminate the possibility of too many people illegally in the country it would fix the system, making it responsive to the needs of the economy. Allow those workers a legal way in.
The vast majority of people who are illegally in the country didn’t chose that route because criminality is their natural disposition. They end up in that category because there wasn’t a viable way for them to arrive legally. Congress can address this by reordering how and why visas are granted and holding businesses accountable for monitoring the immigrants they hire.
If there were a better route, a legal way, most people would have taken it. Bush admits this throughout his book. And endless individual stories of immigrants underscore that truth.
It’s ridiculous and self-defeating that the policy debate about immigration is sidetracked by the question of who among the “illegal” people is worthy of citizenship.
Congress needs to act wisely, and sidestep this silly argument once and for all.
By: Mary Sanchez, The National Memo, March 11, 2013
Republicans seem to have hit on a question that has Team Obama fumbling, or at least squirming: Are you better off now than four years ago? Judging by my E-mail inbox yesterday, it’s a question Republicans seem genuinely interested in pursuing. Please do, GOP. It’s a trap.
I say this for two reasons. The first is factual, the second political.
On the matter of facts, when President Obama took office in January 2009, the economy was shedding 800,000 jobs per month. Stop for a second and read that again: 800,000 jobs lost per month. The economy has now added private sector jobs for 29 months running.
Does that mean that things are good? Not at all. The topline unemployment figure has worsened even as the overall economy has improved, and we still haven’t emerged from the jobs crater wrought by the Great Recession. But middling job growth is indisputably better than economic free fall.
More: As Time’s Michael Grunwald points out the economy shrank by an annual rate of 8.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008. At that rate, Grunwald writes, “we would have shed the entire Canadian economy in 2009.” Grunwald, who has written a book on Obama’s stimulus, goes on to make a pretty good thumbnail case about why that jobs plan did in fact work, as well as generally why Obama and his advocates have a lot to be proud of—the post is worth a read.
But it brings me to my second point—why the GOP is walking into a trap if they pursue the “better off” question. Look back at the figures quoted above: 800,000 jobs lost per month; an 8.9 percent annual contraction rate. Is that really the point of comparison to which Mitt Romney and the Republicans want to draw Americans’ attention? Please. Please!
Republicans constantly whine about President Obama pointing to the dreadful circumstances of his ascension to the Oval Office—but now they want to invite the comparison? Really? Really!
I understand that the president and his team have to toe this line carefully—we’re still digging out from George W. Bush’s recession. But Jon Favreau and the presidential speechwriting staff, are you paying attention? If the GOP wants to ask whether the country is better off than it was four years ago, then the answer is a no-brainer yes, and I can’t think of a better person or place to give that answer than Barack Obama on Thursday night.
By: Robert Schlesinger, U. S. News and World Report, Washington Whispers, September 3, 2012
Answering critics who are gleefully calling him the the Etch A Sketch candidate, Mitt Romney stood fast on one of his long-held positions Wednesday, defending George W. Bush’s financial bailout of Wall Street in 2008. That might be considered a rather gutsy stand, considering that Bush has been persona non grata among Republicans in this campaign, the conservative base despises the policy and Romney’s chief rival for the presidential nomination, Rick Santorum, has condemned the bailout as unnecessary and “injurious to capitalism.”
And what Romney said is at least partly true: almost every mainstream economist agrees that had there not been a bailout, the entire U.S. financial system would have collapsed and the nation would very likely be in the middle of a second Great Depression right now.
But in his remarks in Maryland, Romney also ignored–or etched out–much of the financial history that led to the bailout. “I keep hearing the president say that he’s responsible for keeping America from going into a Great Depression,” Romney said. “No, no, no. That was President George W. Bush and [then Treasury Secretary] Hank Paulson that stepped in and kept that from happening.”
Umm, yeah, they did, but only after Paulson, as head of Goldman Sachs, lobbied to raise leverage limits that fueled Wall Street’s untrammeled risk-taking machine and after Bush, for eight years, sponsored low-income housing and deregulatory policies that promoted the illusory idea of a self-stabilizing Wall Street, gutted the financial regulatory system and set the stage for the disaster.
It is little remembered today that President Bush was so completely flummoxed by the financial collapse that, according to his own former speechwriter, Matt Latimer, he didn’t seem to comprehend at first what had happened, nor that the Treasury was planning to pay more for Wall Street’s toxic securities than they were really worth in order to sustain the reckless banks. “Why did I sign on to this proposal if I don’t understand what it does?” he told Latimer plaintively. Just before the crash, Bush had hoped to deliver a series of “legacy speeches” touting his accomplishments, including a robust economy.
Romney, in his remarks, may have been just sketching out how he plans to run in the fall–as well as conveniently reminding voters of the story he hoped would dominate the news yesterday, that George W. Bush’s prominent brother, Jeb, had just endorsed him. But that’s no excuse for etching out the real story of what happened.
By: Michael Hirsh, National Journal, March 22, 2012
By near-universal account of those who condemn terrorism, the killing of jihadist Anwar al-Awlaki was a good thing. This was a man believed to be behind the attempted Christmas Day, 2009 bombing of a U.S. aircraft over American soil. It was a man U.S. officials say was trying to blow up American cargo planes by putting explosives into the packages on the planes, a man believed to have been hatching plans to poison fellow Americans.
Al-Awlaki was killed last week in Yemen in a drone strike, not only ridding the world of a dangerous terrorist, but depriving al-Qaeda of a powerful recruiter.
And Dick Cheney wants President Obama to apologize for it.
The irrepressible former vice president sees the killing as justified, to be sure. He’s just mad because he thinks Obama is hypocritical for criticizing what the Bush administration, in almost comically euphemistic terms, described as “enhanced interrogation techniques” used on imprisoned al Qaeda suspects. As Cheney told CNN’s State of the Union:
They’ve agreed they need to be tough and aggressive in defending the nation and using some of the same techniques that the Bush administration did. And they need, as I say, to go back and reconsider some of the criticisms they offered about our policies.
The self-centeredness of the comment is astonishing. A key al-Qaeda subject is killed, and Cheney is thinking about what it means for the reputation of the previous administration? If we’re demanding apologies here, why not demand apologies from the people who are screaming about the budget deficit now after voting for laws and wars that vastly increased the budget deficit? And the al-Awlaki killing doesn’t have anything to do with waterboarding. We don’t know whether al-Awlaki was found because of “enhanced interrogation techniques.” There are surely legitimate questions to be asked about whether and why a U.S. citizen should be targeted, either on U.S. soil or abroad. But hypocrisy isn’t the issue here.
Former President Bush has been gracious and quiet as his successor takes on the problems of the economy and national security. If Bush has disagreed with what Obama has done, he’s kept it to himself—something that is not only just good manners for a former president, but in the specific arena of national security, important to giving a sense of continuity in front of the international audience. How unfortunate that Cheney cannot behave in the same way.
By: Susan Milligan, U. S. News and World Report, October 3, 2011