But the GOP will have to look beyond the “advice” of Big Business since it is corporate policy that has sought to keep American incomes down. It must be remembered that the Chamber of Commerce supports Obama on immigration. Conservatives understand that capitalism is a powerful engine, but they must also insist that it be used to advance the national interest, the only basis for legitimate government and for an enduring Republican majority.
By William R. Hawkins | November 11, 2014
The Republicans deserve a few days to celebrate after gaining control of the Senate, winning a record number of House seats and holding a substantial majority of Governors. The GOP swept north to south through Middle America. Joni Ernst’s Senate victory in Iowa under the banner “Mother, Soldier, Conservative” was certainly uplifting. But elections are not stand-alone episodes. They are part of a continuing saga, a struggle without end. Victory only provides an opportunity for the party to present positive policies and an inspiring vision, the success of which will be judged by future voters.
The real contest will be for the White House in 2016. Like it or not, the country cannot be led from Capitol Hill. Effective government depends on “energy in the executive” as Alexander Hamilton argued in Federalist #70. National defense, the maintenance of law and order, and the protection of property rights all depend upon the dedication and values held by the occupant of the Oval Office. Hamilton also argued that a strong leader provides protection against “faction and of anarchy” which are currently tearing society apart at all levels. President Barack Obama has failed in all of these duties by his misuse of power and hostility towards mainstream America. His low approval rating was the crux of the Republican campaign.
The damage can only be undone and reversed by a conservative administration headed by a strong leader dedicated to “making America great again” to resurrect (as the GOP should) Ronald Reagan’s 1980 campaign slogan.
Conservatives must adopt a national outlook and then push Republican politicians to follow suit. The GOP brand has been damaged by the popular belief that it is nothing more than a “country club” party, corrupted by special interests and mired in a libertarian ideology that rejects the very idea of an integral society. If Congressional leaders over the next two years act out this popular view then they will deserve to lose both the White House and Senate in 2016 (and perhaps even the House). To be the majority party of government, the Republicans must show that they know what government is about; duty to the national community, not just to the Chamber of Commerce.
Mitt Romney did his party no favor on the Fox News Sunday just before the election when he claimed a Republican Congress would enact what sounded like comprehensive immigration reform, “You’re going to see a provision first of all to secure the border, second of all, to deal with those who have come here illegally and, third, to make sure our immigration policies are open and transparent to many people who do want to come here legally. That’s going to happen.” This bill will have to include liberal provisions because as Romney noted, “You can’t get something through the Senate unless you have 60 votes. And that means you got to get a lot of Democrats.”
Every Democrat voted for the Senate immigration bill in 2013, but the vast majority of Republican Senators, including the new Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, voted against it. House GOP leaders were willing to pass it, using mainly Democrat votes, to please their Big Business donors who have a myopic fixation on cheap foreign labor, regardless of the larger impact on society. They were stopped in the House by the rank-and-file members representing their conservative base.
The pickup of Congressional seats should not change this dynamic, especially since many Republican candidates made good use of the public’s backlash against Obama over the flood of illegals across the Mexican border during the summer. The party should be positioning itself to ride the backlash that will follow Obama’s expected announcement of a further executive amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants. He had pledged to act by the end of the summer, but postponed issuing any order because Senate Democrats in tough reelections urged him to wait until after the vote. He will likely do this before the new Congress gets organized.
On October 8, White House press secretary Josh Earnest revealed the logic of the delay in executive action. “The fact is — or I guess, the concern is — that had the president moved forward with his [plan] prior to Election Day, you would have seen Republican candidates do more to make the immigration issue central to their campaign. And in the event that they were successful in their campaign, the concern would be that they would cite their opposition to immigration reform as a reason to their success. That is not a storyline that the president, or that anybody here, wanted to contribute to.” In other words, President Obama is well aware that the action he wants to take is unpopular, and he does not want to put the issue up for a democratic decision. He is a man only of faction.
Any amnesty Obama proclaims should poison the well on immigration reform in Congress. It would prove Hamilton’s argument that the Presidency is “essential to the steady administration of the laws” by showing the damage that can be done when the President violates his duty and embraces those outside the law. It could be a make-or-break question for Hillary Clinton. Will she support an open decision not to enforce the law to please her party’s left-wing base? That would allow the GOP to slam her as one who cannot be trusted to fulfill her duties as president. The party can further draw a line on the time tested theme of law and order by passing a standalone measure to truly secure the border with dedicated Congressional oversight to publicize any presidential failure to enforce its provisions.
House Republicans have made the argument that Obama cannot be trusted to carry out any “grand bargain” on immigration reform because he will not enforce border security no matter what Congress enacts and funds. He has already proven that repeatedly. His Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, ordered in 2012, offers relief from deportation. It also grants illegal aliens who came to the United States as children the right to apply for work authorization. Over 600,000 people have applied for this protected status. Yet this is only the tip of the spear. The Obama administration has already all but halted the deportation of illegals whose only crime is to be in the country without permission. Almost a million aliens who have gone through the immigration process and been ordered to leave the country are still at large with no effort being made to carry out the rulings. One wonders what more Obama could do with a formal executive amnesty?
As under DACA, there will be a push to make illegals legal as workers, making both weak-minded businessmen and ambitious union organizers happy. Leon Rodriguez, Director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, told a House Judiciary hearing in July that jobs for illegals “helps achieve the social benefit of lifting these individuals out of the underground economy and enabling them to participate in the mainstream economy.” Yet, with a real unemployment rate (counting discouraged and part-time workers as well as those without any jobs) at 11.8% in September, there is no need to further expand the labor pool.
Obama’s push for higher minimum wages is a response to the downward pressure on wages that has resulted from an “open” immigration policy, as well as his failed economic program that cannot support the creation of good-paying jobs. With the lack of jobs and failing household incomes being major voter concerns, the GOP has a golden opportunity to present an alternative national recovery plan that marks clear differences with Obama’s program. But they will have to look beyond the “advice” of Big Business since it is corporate policy that has sought to keep American incomes down. It must be remembered that the Chamber of Commerce supports Obama on immigration. Conservatives understand that capitalism is a powerful engine, but they must also insist that it be used to advance the national interest, the only basis for legitimate government and for an enduring Republican majority.
William R. Hawkins, a former economics professor and Congressional staffer, is a consultant specializing in international economics and national security issues. He is a contributor to SFPPR News & Analysis.