Procedure overshadows policy in immigration “battle”

Updated: June 5, 2015

How petty are we getting? I was under the impression that if Democrats and Republicans agreed on something, then it would get done (the few things they actually do agree on, that is.) But apparently this doesn’t apply to the crucial issue of immigration. Both Dems and the GOP have said that they are in favor of immigration reform, and yet they have completely halted any actual progress on passing a bill because they have slightly different ideas on how they would like to see it done.

To be accurate, a bill did pass the Senate 500 days ago, but it stalled out in the House, leading to President Obama threatening executive action in order to address the issue. And that brings us to tonight’s national address.

Honestly, I don’t even see why the mainstream media and politicians are making such a fuss over this executive action. We all knew it was coming, the president told us so himself multiple times. But of course we can’t even pass a budget anymore without shutting down the government for two weeks, so naturally Obama’s announcement is now undergoing the standard transformation from presidential duty to tyrannical power-grab.

This is Obama’s 193rd  executive order since taking office, which is nearly 100 less than his predecessor George W. Bush issued during his presidency (although you’d never know it by the way the Right have been talking.) Don’t think I’m only coming down on Republicans, either; this issue could have been handled better by both sides.

But when you get down to the most basic facts, the bare truth is that Republicans killed the immigration bill in the House, and that’s why tonight’s announcement was necessary.

The president approved of the bill that the Senate passed, and it also had the approval of all the Democrats in the House (not to mention a few House Republicans.) But thanks to the radical factions within the GOP, the bill was unable to pass the House and into law. These are the people who were bent on seeing Obama lose reelection in 2012 and are now determined to make him a lame duck president for the last two years of his “rule.”

This is very frustrating to see for someone such as myself, who voted a straight republican ticket in the midterms (no, really.) More importantly the people, the politicians and the president know that the reforms which will be pushed though the executive branch are both limited and temporary.

The only way to have long lasting and comprehensive reform is for Congress to pass a bill.

In truth, I voted a straight republican ticket in the hopes that the GOP would take back the Senate. Not because I think Republicans do a better job than Democrats, but because I knew that the GOP had a much better chance of winning back the Senate than the Dems had of winning back the House. I also understand that nothing would have gotten done in these next two years if the chambers remained devided.

Now the GOP has no excuse not to pass some sort of immigration bill (especially with the Supreme Court blocking parts the president’s executive action twice in the last six months.) If the Republicans continue with their policy of inaction, they’re going to show up to the 2016 presidential election empty handed, and that won’t resonate well with the voting public. People will look at the president and his party and say “Well, at least they tried something.”

From a purely objective standpoint, the president’s decision to push ahead with executive action was the right course to take, not just politically but also for the nation. Think of it as a tool to get the reform ball rolling. The president’s immigration strategy will go into effect this spring, and that will give the republican-controlled congress time to come up with a proper reform bill.

And the GOP will pass an immigration bill soon. How do I know? Because we’re talking about the people who’ve attempted to repeal Obamacare over 50 times since it was passed. The Republicans are going to want Obama’s reforms to go sooner rather than later.

This all may sound rather anti-GOP, but I actually believe this is a good thing. Republicans have a lot of good ideas when it comes to reforming our broken immigration system, and I believe they are going to pass a solid reform bill. Now that they won back the Senate, all they needed was for the president to give them a kick in the pants to get them moving. And Obama’s executive action will do just that.

Source(s): http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/executive-orders/wbush.html

http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/executive-orders/obama.html

Photo credit to blog.oup.com

“Dark Money” and its impact on recent midterm cycle

Updated: June 3, 2015

Dark Money is more than just a catchy phrase- it’s an emerging industry. Dark Money is a name given to 501(c)(4) organizations, which is the IRS code for nonprofits. The ingenious thing about these nonprofit organizations is they have been able to contribute unlimited amounts of money directly to political campaigns without having to reveal themselves as a donor. They can stay in the shadows because they are not being taxed on these contributions due to their nonprofit status with the IRS.

Let’s say (hypothetically) that Best Buy is a republican institution. The owners and CEOs at Best Buy have the power to set up a small nonprofit organization (a bakery for breast caner research, for example) and funnel massive amounts of money through said organization and into the war chests of republican candidates; all of which is legal.

If you think back to the previous midterm election cycle in 2010, the total amount of money brought in from sources outside the campaigns totaled $205,519,230. But as the popularity of Dark Money grew among private business owners and more organizations realized that they would not be audited by the IRS, the amount of revenue given to 2014 midterm campaigns by Dark Money groups came in at $545,605,510.

That’s a 376% increase in spending in just four years.

Now imagine what the Presidency will cost in 2016. Political scientists estimate that if a candidate were to enter the race for the White House today, they wouldn’t be taken seriously unless they already had at least $150 million in their coffers.

See what the experts at OpenSecrets.org have to say about Dark Money: https://www.opensecrets.org/outsidespending/nonprof_summ.php

It’s important to keep in mind that not all candidates who spend the most money on the campaign trail emerge victorious (the Tom Harkin/Joni Ernst race being the most pronounced example.) But in order for lesser-funded candidates to actually win these elections, the voters have to be willing to go the extra mile and do some independent research.

A good way to start would be looking at outside sources- internet, newspapers, public records at the library -for additional info on the candidates in question. This is a great alternative to relying entirely on campaign ads, where 5-10% of Dark Money groups can be found spending their dollars.

As my old PoliSci professor once explained to me, today’s voters have the power to change our entire political system from the outside if they really wanted to, but it would take a lot of work. The choice is ours, people. If we want to stop the influence of Dark Money spending, then let’s show the corporations and special interest groups that what they’re doing will no longer stand. Let’s elect candidates that we personally have found to be best suited for the job, not candidates who look/sound the best in TV and radio ads.

Another excellent way to get involved as a voter would be to visit your local IRS branch- easily found through a google search -and demand to know why they are only auditing 1% of all 501(c)(4) organizations (Dark Money groups.) A favorite saying of mine plays well at a time like this: “We used to live in a country where the voters picked the politicians. Now we live in a country where politicians pick the voters.”

But it dosn’t have to stay this way.

If you’re tired of corporations and wealthy special interest groups controlling everything from the White House to your Mayor’s office, then use your power as a voter to do a little independent research. If the big spenders start losing elections, Dark Money groups will vanish and it will be much easier for the average voter to be heard.

Statistics from Al Jazeera America and OpenSecrets.org were used in this report.

Photo credit to watchdog.org