Thursday, January 31, 2013

Reforming Immigration for Good


Progressive America Rising

IN Las Vegas yesterday, President Obama made it clear that an overhaul of America’s immigration laws was his top domestic priority. He expressed cautious support for a bipartisan plan by eight senators that would create a pathway to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants in exchange for tougher border enforcement, employment checks and temporary work visas for farmworkers and highly skilled engineers and scientists.

Many critical details are still missing, but the general framework is notable for its familiarity. Variations on all of these measures have been tried before, with mixed results. Legalization of the undocumented is humane and practical, but the proposals for controlling future immigration are almost certain to fail.

The promise to “secure the border” made for good politics even before 1986, when Congress passed the last comprehensive immigration reform bill. In the last quarter-century we have spent approximately $187 billion on enforcement, mostly along the United States-Mexico border. This included a ninefold increase in the size of the Border Patrol since 1980; nearly 700 miles of fencing; and the deployment of surveillance drones and motion sensors. These efforts reduced but did not stop unauthorized entries (only the Great Recession was able to reduce the net flow of Mexican illegal immigration to effectively zero). In fact, the hazards of crossing an increasingly militarized border led many Mexican workers to settle permanently in the United States.

Similarly, proposals for a new guest worker program, which were scuttled from the 1986 legislation because of opposition from labor and immigrant advocates, should again give us pause. From the agricultural “Bracero Program” of the 1940s and ’50s to the current H-2 visa for temporary unskilled labor, these programs are notorious for employer abuse.

If we really want to tackle unauthorized migration, we need to understand why it exists in the first place. The most important cause is our system of allocating green cards, or visas for permanent residency, which stipulates that no country may have more than 7 percent of the total each year. With an annual ceiling of 366,000 family- and employer-sponsored visas, the per-country limit is 25,620.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Global Capital Looking to ‘Global Green New Deal’ for Climate and Other Bailouts

Editors Note: The key phrase below is ‘potential backers of low-carbon projects.’ From the left, there is no reason these can’t be public ownership projects or worker-owned coops—but it will take a fight.

Davos Call for $14 Trillion 'Greening' of Global Economy

Political and business leaders warned of need to ensure sustainable growth

By Tom Bawden via The Independent - UK

Jan 22 2013 - An unprecedented $14trn (£8.8trn) greening of the global economy is the only way to ensure long-term sustainable growth, according to a stark warning delivered to political and business leaders as they descended on the World Economic Forum in Davos yesterday.

Only a sustained and dramatic shift to infrastructure and industrial practices using low-carbon technology can save the world and its economy from devastating global warming, according to a Davos-commissioned alliance led by the former Mexican President, Felipe Calderon, in the most dramatic call so far to fight climate change on business grounds.

This includes everything from power generation, transport, and buildings to industry, forestry, water and agriculture, according to the Green Growth Action Alliance, created at last year's Davos meeting in Mexico.

The extra spending amounts to roughly $700bn a year until 2030 and would provide a much-needed economic stimulus as well as reduce the costs associated with global warming further down the line, said Mr Calderon, who leads the alliance.

It is better to try to pre-empt events like Hurricane Sandy, which cost $50bn, by keeping a lid on global warming, concluded the report, researched by the Accenture consultancy.

Mr Calderon, whose six-year term as Mexican President ended in November, said: "It is clear that we are facing a climate crisis with potentially devastating impacts on the global economy.

"Greening global economic growth is the only way to satisfy the needs of today's population and up to 9 billion people by 2050, driving development and wellbeing while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing natural resource productivity."


Friday, January 18, 2013

Democrats: Two Parties Emerging Under One Roof

Up next for Obama: A looming Democratic divide

By: Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman

Progressive America Rising via Politico

January 18, 2013 - As President Barack Obama approaches his second inaugural on Monday, he presides over a party that has largely papered over its divisions for the past four years thanks to the president’s commanding popularity.

But almost as soon as the echo of Obama’s inaugural address fades and he becomes a lame duck, Democrats are going to have to face a central and unresolved question about their political identity: Will they become a center-left, Democratic Leadership Council-by-a-different-name party or return to a populist, left-leaning approach that mirrors their electoral coalition?

(Also on POLITICO: Dems' hard road to House majority)

An immediate answer may come in the entitlement debate and whether Obama and congressional Democrats will agree to any Social Security or Medicare benefit cuts to achieve deficit reduction, said a wide-ranging group of Democratic elected officials and strategists.

“In the short term that’s the flash point,” said longtime Democratic consultant Paul Begala.

But as moderate Republicans become an ever rarer breed and more centrists find a home in the Democratic coalition, the party also must reconcile exactly who they are on a broader panoply of economic issues including Wall Street regulation and public employees. As 2016 grows nearer, and their presidential hopefuls begin openly maneuvering, Democrats must decide whether they want to be principally known as the party of Rahm Emanuel or the party of Elizabeth Warren.


Sunday, January 6, 2013

‘Flip the Script’ –Jobs over Deficits

Job seekers waiting in line

The Republican Lock on Congress

By Bill Fletcher, Jr.
Progressive America Rising via

There is a strategic question that faces progressives, one that is receiving increased attention.  Due to the 2010 elections and the Republican domination of state legislatures, Congressional Districts have been gerrymandered in order to guarantee a lack of any significant electoral challenges.  In other words, these Districts have Republican Congresspeople who are not worried about opposition.

As we saw in the lead up to the ‘fiscal cliff’ negotiations/resolution, most Republicans felt no internal pressure to compromise.  It is quite likely that they will feel little pressure in their districts for at least ten years.  As a result the sort of pressure that they must feel must transcend their districts and actually be more at the societal level.  What this means is that while progressives absolutely need an independent electoral strategy that builds locally-based organizations capable of successfully running candidates for office–both inside and outside of the Democratic primary system–that is insufficient.

In fact, it is the Occupy Movement that pointed us in the direction of the other leg of such a movement. What the Occupy Movement accomplished, among other things, was to change the social discourse.  Despite every effort by the mainstream media to dismiss the Occupy Movement it not only grew but forced the country to start to address the question of economic inequality.

In the current context the implications should be clear.  If, for instance, we are to fight it out on the economy and specifically on unemployment, this will not happen on the basis of fights in the Republican Congressional Districts.  It will be a fight that we will have to take up in cities, including but not limited to state capitols, around the country.  It means social protests which are disruptive. 

In order for this to happen we must actually re-train many social movement activists and thinkers in the lessons of the 1930s labor movement, the 1950s-1960s freedom movements (including but not limited to the Civil Rights Movement), the movement against the Vietnam War, and the work of the early environmental movement. 

Occupy, in that sense, was onto something.  We must carry out a fight for space as part of the fight for power.  Land occupations, eviction blockades, boycotts, as well as mass demonstrations are all critical.  [Note: in fact, we need, right now, a series of REALLY mass marches for jobs.] In other words, the sort of pressure that needs to be brought about must be something that Republicans AND Democrats feel, and in fact, become a serious source of concern.

Before we find ourselves wallowing in self-pity as we worry about the Republican ‘lock’, let’s rethink our strategy and tactics.  We may be able to flip the script, and sooner rather than in the distant future.


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