In October of 2013, House Republicans refused to compromise on raising the debt ceiling which forced the government to shut down from October 1st to the 17th. In an hour-long heated press conference, President Obama chided and rebuked the Republicans for their narrow-mindedness. At one point he stated, “And this is not just for me; it’s also for my successors in office. Whatever party they’re from, they shouldn’t have to pay a ransom either for Congress doing its basic job. We’ve got to put a stop to it [the shutdown].”
Five years later another government shutdown appears to be looming and the rhetoric is just as thick and ridiculous as ever. It appeared in early January that Republicans and Democrats would be able to come together and pass a budget. However, impasse seems to have arisen over military spending increases/cuts versus domestic spending increases/cuts. The Republicans want more for money for the military and the Democrats believe those increases need to be balanced with increases to domestic spending on programs such as funding for disaster relief and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
If fiscal priorities were the only issues creating an impasse, a compromise could probably be reached. However, as Margaret Hartmann of New York Magazine put it, “Any funding measure will require the support of nine Senate Democrats, so the party suddenly has leverage despite not holding power in Congress or the White House. Many have threatened not to vote for a short- or long-term spending measure that doesn’t address the nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrants protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA).” Moreover, Republicans in the House may have no choice but to attempt to pass a short-term spending bill that will keep the government operating because Democratic leaders insist on a Clean DACA amendment.
Like most, I believe there needs to be a way to integrate the “DACAs” into the fabric of American society and that solution exists if cooler heads prevail. But if the Democratic leadership believes it can hold budget negotiations hostage to the needs of DACA, they greatly underestimate the righteous anger and backlash on the part of the citizenry that will be created!
Unbridled legal immigration, the presence of roughly 11 million illegal aliens, and lack of effective workplace enforcement have wreaked havoc on the nation’s working class. 40 million people voted for Donald Trump, many of whom a few decades earlier would have been card-carrying union members. But porous borders and disastrous trade deals such as NAFTA, GATT, and WTO, have undermined organizing and helped to push wage earners backs against the wall. Just try organizing for better wages and benefits under the threat of relocating manufacturing to Mexico, Indonesia or Vietnam! Try organizing for better pay in Los Angeles, which is undergoing one of the biggest construction booms in its history, all while 75 percent of the workers building those high rises are illegal.
The Democratic Party learned, as we all did in retrospect, that undermining American labor unions contributed to the Trump victory. The runaway intake of aliens, legal and illegal in the US has been going on for decades, and one has to wonder why the Democratic Party takes this stance against the interests of the traditional labor unions, and how has it been able to get away with it for so long.
In the past 30 years roughly 35 million new immigrants have come into the US labor market, many of those with low skills and only elementary education. Most of these new arrivals found employment in sectors like agriculture, construction, food service, and janitorial to name a few.
It almost goes without saying aliens are often paid less and are frequently abused by unscrupulous employers, such as those depicted in Frontline’s 2015 story (LINK). The program told the heartrending tale of mostly Hispanic women who work long, lonely hours cleaning office buildings in many of our largest cities. The show emphasized that most are here illegally, and many have suffered rape and sexual harassment at the hands of their supervisors.
Democrats have consistently taken an open border stance, thus facilitating the ability of business interests to get away with kneecapping the old organized labor unions. Today, less than 15% of workers are covered under union contracts. Is it any wonder these frustrated union members in fly-over America looked for a new voice and turned to Donald Trump after his promises to reform and regulate immigration. It is unknown whether or not Trump will actually be able to deliver on the grandiose promises he made on the campaign trail
If the government is shut down tomorrow, who will get the blame? Will it be the Democrats, who facilitated our current humanitarian disaster with DACA, or Republicans, who have promised nothing and delivered less? With the elections in November looming, inquiring citizens want to know.