Craig Eisele on …..

February 23, 2012

Romney Foolishly Believes E-Verify is Effective and Working

At Wednesday night’s GOP debate, Mitt Romney called Arizona a “model” for immigration enforcement, singling out the state’s 2007 law mandating that all employers use the national E-Verify database when hiring workers. He promised to institute a national E-Verify law if elected. “You do that, and just as Arizona is finding out, you can stop illegal immigration,” he said. Last May, the state defeated the Chamber of Commerce’s suit against the law in the Supreme Court.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, Romney’s adviser on immigration issues, helped write Arizona’s E-Verify law as well as Arizona’s 2010 SB1070 law (Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act). At the recent Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, Kobach touted what’s happened in Arizona as proof that “self-deportation”—Romney’s chosen immigration strategy—is working. “People started self-deporting by the tens of thousands,” after E-Verify passed, he said, according to the Hill.

Romney and Kobach are right that, on at least one level, the law has had a significant impact in Arizona. A study published last year by the Public Policy Institute of California shows that about 92,000, or 17 percent, of the Hispanic non-citizen population of Arizona left the state in the year after the state passed E-Verify legislation; most of those who moved were probably illegal immigrants. PPI researchers told Yahoo News that the law—not the recession, or highly-publicized raids targeting illegal immigrants—was the most likely cause of the exodus.

Yet while PPI’s research helps predict what might happen if an E-Verify system were implemented nationally, as Romney hopes, it exposes some of the less-desirable side-effects of the law as well. In Arizona, the non-citizen Hispanic workers who did stay behind increasingly shifted into a shadow economy, said Magnus Lofstrom, a co-author of the study. The self-employment rate among non-citizen Hispanics in Arizona nearly doubled post-E-Verify, and a higher proportion of people who said they were self-employed lived in poverty and lacked health insurance.

Lofstrom told Yahoo News that the informal economy would grow significantly nationwide if a national E-Verify system were established. While illegal immigrants in Arizona were able to move to other states to find work, their choices would be significantly limited if E-Verify were implemented nationally; the only real (and unlikely) option would be to for undocumented workers to move to another country. In other words, we’d be much more likely to see an increase in informal employment rather than a massive movement among illegal immigrants to “self-deport.”

What would that mean? An increase in informal employment among the nation’s estimated 11 million illegal immigrants would result in lower tax revenues–since non-self employed illegal immigrants are more likely to have taxes withheld from their paychecks–higher poverty levels among illegal immigrants, and a higher potential for employer abuse, said Lofstrom. (Right now, America has a relatively small shadow economy compared to other developed countries, like Italy.)

Another snag with instituting a national E-Verify program is that the current system cannot detect identity fraud. A 2009 government-commissioned study found that E-Verify only flags illegal immigrants half the time, because it can’t detect when a worker is using documents that belong to someone else. (Employers enter in Social Security or alien registration numbers, birthdates and names of employees into the database, which figures out whether they match the federal immigration and Social Security databases.) To combat this fraud, Romney has said he supports biometric ID cards for immigrants that would contain a fingerprint or other identifying device that clears them for work. Romney hasn’t explicitly said that every person in America should have this card–an idea that many libertarians object to. But without being adopted universally, undocumented people could still use false documents. (The Romney team had not responded to requests for comment from Yahoo News by the time this article was published.) Mandatory national ID cards have played a starring role in failed bipartisan immigration reform proposals in Congress over the past few years.

In Arizona, there is no state-wide system to make sure businesses are using E-Verify. Rather, individual citizens are asked to expose employers that they suspect of hiring illegal immigrants to their local district attorneys. Yet district attorneys were not granted the power to subpoena businesses that are suspected of hiring illegal immigrants, and some DAs have complained that the law is an unfunded mandate for their offices, according to Judy Gans, immigration policy director at Arizona University’s Udall Center. Only three businesses were prosecuted under the law in the first three years after it passed.

But business owners still worry that E-Verify’s high error rate could leave them open to prosecution. Republicans in Arizona’s state Senate are now moving to change the law at their request. Republican state senator Jerry Lewis, who defeated anti-illegal immigration hardliner Russell Pearce last year in a historic recall election, is co-sponsoring a bill with seven other Republican senators to provide “safe harbor” to businesses that use E-Verify but still accidentally hire unauthorized workers.

Lewis, who is backing Romney, told Yahoo News that he is not a fan of Kobach’s draft immigration laws.

“Does Kobach’s presence in Romney’s campaign create a difficulty for him? I believe it does,” Lewis said. “I think people want a real solution and I don’t think the legislation that has been drafted by Kobach is a real solution.” Lewis said the immigration laws “polarize people.”

Lewis added that he thinks Romney will eventually agree with him that making all illegal immigrants leave the country is not a solution to the country’s immigration problems.

“I think he’ll realize that there is a place for a real solution to the issue, and it’s not just let’s get everybody that’s undocumented out of the country,” Lewis said.

Are Republicans Liars or Just Stupid When They Blame Obama for High Gas Prices

In a blistering election-year attack on his political foes, President Barack Obama charged Thursday that Republicans are “licking their chops” over painfully high gas prices that threaten the fragile economic recovery.

“Only in politics do people root for bad news and they greet bad news so enthusiastically,” he said in a combative speech at the University of Miami. “You pay more, and they’re licking their chops.”

The defiant rhetoric came after days in which the White House has worked to get off the defensive over high gasoline prices, insisting that Obama has done everything he can to bring those costs down. The administration blamed sticker shock at the pump on unrest in the Middle East, speculative trading, and heightened demand in China, Brazil, and India.

Obama assured Americans that he feels their pain, saying the rise in gas prices “hurts everybody” and “means you’ve got to find even more room in a budget that was already tight.”

The president accused Republicans of seeing “a political opportunity” and mockingly described them as “dusting off their three-point plan for $2 gas.”

“I’ll save you the suspense:  Step one is drill, and step two is drill, and then step three is keep drilling,” he said. “Well the American people aren’t stupid.  They know that’s not a plan — especially since we’re already drilling.  That’s a bumper sticker.  It’s not a strategy to solve our energy challenge.  It’s a strategy to get politicians through an election.”

Republicans angrily shot back that the president was the political opportunist.

“Facing an election, the President would like everyone to forget that gas prices have doubled over the past three years while he consistently blocked and slowed the production of American-made energy. From his drilling moratorium to his denial of the keystone pipeline, the President has time and again sided with his liberal base over American families” said Brendan Buck, spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner.

Obama said there were “no quick fixes” and “no silver bullets” to solve the situation and called for a “sustained, all-of-the-above” approach to develop domestic energy.

“Anyone who tells you we can drill our way out of this problem doesn’t know what they’re talking about — or just isn’t telling you the truth,” he said.

Obama explained that he had expanded drilling and pushed for continued investments in American-based energy — “oil, gas, wind, solar, nuclear, biofuels, and more” — and the development of more fuel-efficient vehicles and buildings. And he warned the problem might take more than a decade to solve.

Ahead of the speech, Republicans sent reporters findings from independent fact-checking organizations that show the drop in oil imports, which Obama ascribes to his policies, actually stems from declining demand, which has resulted from the worst recession since the Great Depression.

And Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell scoffed at Obama’s call to end government subsidies to hugely profitable oil companies — a stable of the president’s campaign rhetoric.

“If someone in the administration can show me that raising taxes on American energy production will lower gas prices and create jobs, then I will gladly discuss it,” said McConnell. “But since nobody can, and the president doesn’t, this is merely an attempt to deflect from his failed policies.”

McConnell pushed Obama and congressional Democrats to “open their eyes to the opportunity presented by the Keystone XL pipeline” designed to carry oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.

The Obama administration postponed a decision on the pipeline, which is expected to come after the November election.

Are Republicans Really ANTI – WOMAN or Just Prudish Chauvinists

The social conservative wing of the Republican Party has also long contained a strong strain of hostility to sex for purposes other than procreation and a fear of women being able to control their bodies without the dominance of men.

As the GOP rushes headlong to the extreme right in order to satisfy its base primary voters, that strain is now manifesting itself in the mainstream of the Republican Party as active hostility to protecting the basic health of women, particularly in areas that have anything to do with reproduction.

Republicans are now transforming themselves into a party that is dangerous to the health and safety of American women.

The fight over whether Catholic institutions that hire non-Catholics and serve the general public like universities and hospitals must follow the general law and provide contraception under their employee health plans — which should have been resolved by President Obama’s compromise that the insurance companies and not the Catholic employers would provide it — is just the tip of the iceberg.

• All 8 Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee voted against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which was first enacted in 1994 with bipartisan support and was last reauthorized in 2005 by unanimous consent in the Senate and with 415 votes in the House and signed by George W. Bush. VAWA is aimed at improving criminal justice and community-based responses to domestic violence, date rape, sexual assault and stalking. Although some Senate Republicans like Mike Crapo of Idaho did co-sponsor the bill, all 8 Republicans on the Judiciary Committee voted no. Among other things, the Republicans wanted to defund the Office on Violence Against Women in the Justice Department, and objected to provisions which extended the protection of the Act to gays and lesbians, and provided protection to abused women who are illegal immigrants to come forward. Apparently Senate Republicans don’t believe that gays, lesbians and illegal immigrant women who are raped or sexually assaulted deserve the protection of VAWA.

• Under a new law passed by the Virginia State Legislature, and expected to be signed by Republican Governor Bob McDonnell (a contender for the Republican vice presidential nomination), women who want to have a legal abortion will be required to have a transvaginal ultrasound in which a probe is inserted into the vagina, legally forcing a woman to be penetrated for no medical reason. A Republican lawmaker justified this on the grounds that women had already made the decision to be “vaginally penetrated when they got pregnant.” The law is almost certainly unconstitutional as an “undue burden” on women’s rights, but that hasn’t stopped Virginia Republicans from passing it.

• From 1976 until this year, there has been a de facto bipartisan truce between anti-abortion and pro-choice supporters in Congress under which taxpayer dollars could not be used for abortion except in the case of rape, incest, or when the pregnancy endangers the life of the mother. 173 House Republicansco-sponsored a bill that would drastically redefine “rape” and “incest”. Incest wouldn’t be included in the exemption unless the girl is under 18. The definition of “rape” would be limited to “forcible rape.” Rapes in which women are drugged, or given large amounts of alcohol, rapes of women with diminished mental capacity, and many date rapes wouldn’t be covered. Nor would statutory rape — so a 30-year-old man having sex with a 12 year old girl wouldn’t count. This attempt by the Republican House to redefine rape downward stands in stark contrast to Democratic Attorney General Eric Holder’s recent announcement of an expanded definition of rape in the Uniform Crime Report to mean “the penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetrations by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim”. Faced with a firestorm of pressure, the House GOP eventually decided to remove the forcible rape redefinition from the bill, but that doesn’t take away from their initial impulse to include it.

Moreover, it may come as a shock to many women that in 2012, their access to birth control should become a political issue in the Republican primary. But as recently as 1965, 30 states outlawed or limited the right to use birth control. In that year, the Supreme Court overturned such laws in the case of Griswold vs. Connecticut which held that the Constitution implies a right of privacy which prohibits states from interfering with the right of married people (later extended to all people) to use birth control in the privacy of their bedroom.

One of the leading Republican presidential contenders, Rick Santorum, has stated that contraception is “not okay. It’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.” Moreover, Santorum told ABC’s Jake Tapper that the Supreme Court was wrong in Griswold and states should have a right to ban birth control.

Mitt Romney, the supposed moderate in the Republican race, is not far behind Santorum when it comes to a woman’s right to contraception. ABC’s George Stephanopoulos asked Romney, “Do you believe that states have a right to ban contraception? Or is it trumped by a constitutional right to privacy.” Romney evaded the question, responding “I don’t know whether a state has a right to ban contraception.” Romney — like Barack Obama a graduate of Harvard Law School — would have learned the Griswold case in Constitutional Law 101, so he was being ingenuous.

More recently, Romney has started calling certain birth control pills “abortive pills,” joining Michele Bachmann in denouncing Plan B “morning after” pills as abortion. But Romney is just joining Bachmann in her ignorance. The Plan B pill is not an “abortion pill” or an “abortive pill” and the label on its package already warns pregnant women not to take it because “if you’re already pregnant, it won’t work.” The Plan B pill uses the same active ingredients as regular birth control pills and works in the same way as regular birth control pills by preventing the implantation of an egg in the uterus. So if Romney thinks that Plans B pills cause abortions — which he now opposes — then he must also be opposed to ordinary birth control pills.

Put aside whether you’re anti-abortion or pro-choice — many people have good faith and strongly held disagreements on abortion. But recent Republican attacks on a woman’s right to obtain contraception, on laws protecting against violence on women, Republican-backed legislation to require women seeking legal abortions to have medically unnecessary ultrasounds which penetrate the vagina, and Republican attempts to redefine “rape” as only including forcible rape, should raise serious concerns that the GOP is becoming dangerous to the health and safety of American women.

Republicans Secretly Hope for Another Candidate Soon

Could the battle for the Republican nomination go all the way to the Republican convention in August? Could we see an entirely new candidate getting into the race?

One long-time Republican leader tells ABC News the answer to both questions is yes.

“If the Republican primary voters continue to split up their votes in such a way that nobody is close to having a majority, then there is a chance that somebody else might get in,” former Republican Party chairman Haley Barbour said in an interview with ABC News.

Barbour calls such a scenario unlikely, but not out of the question.

“I think the odds of having a contested convention are not good but the fact that we are where we are and there is actually a possibility, I guess this is why there is so much talk,” he said.

A contested convention would mean another six months of Republicans battling Republicans, but Barbour says that’s not necessarily bad for the party.

“It is not accurate to say that a hotly contested convention is necessarily bad,” Barbour said. “I am not saying it is necessarily good, but I don’t think it is accurate to say it is necessarily bad. Let’s just see.”

Barbour, who has not endorsed any candidate, says Mitt Romney has never really been a true front-runner.

“In our primaries the more conservative candidates have an advantage,” Barbour said. “Doesn’t mean they always win. But that is just a fact and I think Romney is showing himself to be moderately conservative. We still have a long way to go with three candidates who are to the right of Romney.”

That doesn’t mean, however, that he thinks Romney cannot win.

“In our party it is an advantage to be more conservative, but at the end of the day I think most Republicans want somebody who can beat Barack Obama,” Barbour said. “And nobody in my opinion has made that case to the Republican voters yet – Romney, Santorum, Paul or Gingrich. I don’t think any of them has made the case that ‘I am the guy who has the best chance to beat Obama.'”

February 9, 2012

Romney Will Struggle to Gain Conservative Backing

The resurgence of social and cultural issues in voters’ minds poses new challenges for GOP presidential front-runner Mitt Romney as he reels from surprising losses Tuesday to conservative favoriteRick Santorum.

The economy remains the No. 1 issue of concern for a majority of Americans. But the recent hoopla surrounding the Obama administration’s support of contraceptives, the court ruling against California’s same-sex marriage ban and heated debate aboutabortion access has created a perfect storm that has pushed these seemingly dormant issues to the surface.

“They’ve never been far from the surface. A lot of people thought the social issues had disappeared but that has never been the case,” said Karlyn Bowman, a senior fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute who focuses on polling data and public opinion. “These issues are obviously very important within a conservative party, the Republican party.”

Even the general public has increasingly leaned to the right. In a Gallup poll last month, 40 percent of Americans identified themselves as conservative, 35 percent as moderate and 21 percent as liberal. The numbers marked the third straight year that conservatives outnumbered moderates, which have declined steadily since the early 1990s.

An overwhelming number of Republicans – 51 percent – dubbed themselves as “conservatives” while 20 percent classified themselves as “very conservative,” far outweighing moderates. The poll also found that independents, who make up the largest political group in the country, were mostly conservative-leaning, with 41 percent putting themselves in that category.

“In recent years, conservatives have become the single largest group, consistently outnumbering moderates since 2009 and outnumbering liberals by 2 to 1. Overall, the nation has grown more ideologically polarized over the past decade,” the analysis stated. “The increase in the proportion of conservatives is entirely the result of increased conservatism among Republicans and independents, and is also seen in Americans 30 and older — particularly seniors.”

Santorum, with his staunch anti-abortion stance and Christian ideology, has strong backing among conservatives who still view Romney and his record with skepticism. Newt Gingrich was able to attract some of that conservative support in South Carolina but his personal record, including two failed marriages and an affair with his current wife while he was still married, has come under much public scrutiny.

Santorum “has been a consistent conservative in the debates. He’s raised a lot of social issues that haven’t been the focus of Romney and Gingrich in the debates,” Bowman said.

The former senator from Pennsylvania supports a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, as well as banning abortion even in the case of rape and not allowing homosexual couples to adopt children.

Romney, meanwhile, has struggled to convince the Republican base of his conservative credentials. Most recently, he came under fire for allowing “abortion pills” as governor of Massachusetts. In 2005, Romney signed a law that required all Massachusetts hospitals, including those owned by religious groups, to provide emergency contraception to rape victims.

Romney had initially opposed that requirement but later said that “in my heart of hearts, is that people who are subject to rape should have the option of having emergency contraception or emergency contraception information.”

That same year, Romney vetoed a law allowing the disbursement of the controversial morning-after pill by pharmacists without a doctor’s prescription, but the state Senate overrode his veto.

Romney’s business record has worked in his favor, with exit polls in early states showing that most primary voters viewed it with a favorable eye. But his changing views on highly volatile social issues, including abortion, have yet to win him favor among conservatives. Such hesitancy was in full display Tuesday in Minnesota, where Romney did not carry a single county even though its former governor, Tim Pawlenty, campaigned for him.

“Romney has to go back to mollifying that base, which is not something he wanted to do,” political analyst Norm Ornstein said. “What it means for Romney is that he’s going to have to make more and more sharply conservative pledges and try to trigger even more of that conservative antipathy [against President Obama].”

But that could be a challenging task for the former governor who faces a more difficult road to the nomination than many expected. “The more he does this, he looks phony,” Ornstein said.

The focus on social issues among the U.S. electorate doesn’t bode well for Obama either. He has taken much heat for his administration’s decision to require religious schools, universities, charities and hospitals to provide contraceptive services in their insurance plans.

House Speaker John Boehner today became the latest Republican to jump into the showdown, saying that if the administration doesn’t reverse the policy, Congress will.

“In imposing this requirement, the federal government is violating a First Amendment right that has stood for more than two centuries, and it is doing so in a manner that affects millions of Americans and harms some of our nation’s most vital institutions,” Boehner, R-Ohio, said on the House floor. “If the president does not reverse the department’s attack on religious freedom, then the Congress, acting on behalf of the American people and the Constitution we are sworn to uphold and defend, must.”

The House, comprised of a number of freshman lawmakers who won based on their firm opposition to abortion, has already introduced a number of bills tightening abortion restrictions and defunding Planned Parenthood.

Still, if the Republican race goes into the summer, as many now expect, even the focus on social issues would bode well for the president, experts say.

“Certainly one of the things that’s happening now is people are feeling less frantic about the economy and so other issues do emerge more,” Ornstein said. “Are they going to supersede the economy? If they do, that’s great news for Barack Obama, even if he suffers some with the decision on contraception, because it’s a signal that the economy is receding as an issue and if the economy is receding as an issue that means things are going well.”

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