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Chad’s Morning Brief: Let The Republican Fight Over Immigration Begin, Is the Farm Bill a Failure?, and Other Top Stories

Here is your Morning Brief for the morning of January 30, 2014. Give me your feedback below and tune in to The Chad Hasty Show for these and many more topics from 8:30 to 11am. Remember, you can listen online at KFYO.com or on your iPhone/Android with the radioPup App.

U.S. Capitol building
Brendan Stringer, Getty Images

The GOP Fight Over Immigration

It will be tough for the Republicans to take back the Senate this year. Even tougher if a huge fight within the Republican Party breaks out over immigration. As has been pointed out, the Republicans have a great issue to bring to the American voter. Obamacare. If Republicans keeping showing the failures of Obamacare, along with how many people have stopped looking for jobs it makes the Democrats look really bad. If the Republicans start fighting over immigration, it makes the GOP look bad.

According to FOX News, the squabbling may have started already when Senator Jeff Sessions delivered a 30-page packet to all House Republicans today.

House Republicans are getting pressure from top GOP Senate leaders as they get ready to tackle legislation aimed at overhauling the nation’s immigration system.

Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, the top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, delivered a 30-page package to all 232 House Republicans on Wednesday that offers a point-by-point rebuttal to the expected standards that House Speaker John Boehner and other leaders plan to circulate this week among GOP members.

Sessions told members of his party they must “end the lawlessness – not surrender to it” – and they must defend the legitimate interests of millions of struggling American workers.

Part of the 30-page package included a memo from Sessions, an analysis from his staff on the Senate Budget and Judiciary committees and a summary of opposition from conservatives. It was delivered shortly before House Republicans left Washington for their annual retreat in Cambridge, Md.

High on the retreat’s agenda is immigration, which Republican leaders hope to tackle this election year despite strong opposition from some members. The starting point is a statement of principles that is expected to focus on border and interior security, legalization for some of the 11 million immigrants living here illegally and ensuring that Obama enforces any law, according to lawmakers, congressional aides and outside advocates, speaking on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to publicly discuss the principles being drafted.

“We’re going to outline our standards, principles of immigration reform and have a conversation with our members, and once that conversation’s over we’ll have a better feel for what members have in mind,” Boehner told reporters this week.

Separately, several lawmakers are working on legislation dealing with children of parents in the United States illegally, visas for guest workers and legalization that would require immigrants to pay fines and back taxes.

Republicans insist that the party must pass reforms and address the issue of the 11 million immigrants living in the United States illegally to be competitive in presidential elections. In 2012, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who suggested that immigrants “self-deport,” won just 27 percent of the Hispanic vote.

“It’s no secret we have millions of people who are here, who are unlawful and we can’t deny that and I think that’s something that has to be dealt with,” said Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., who has been working on legislation, “but lot of components have to be dealt with.”

The Senate last year passed a comprehensive, bipartisan bill that addressed border security, provided enforcement measures and offered a path to citizenship for those living here illegally. The measure stalled in the GOP-led House, where leaders want to take a more piecemeal approach.

In his memo, Sessions warned of the negative impact of the House immigration proposal on U.S. workers, taxpayers and the rule of law.

His analysis said increasing the number of immigrants would hurt an already weak economy, lower wages and increase unemployment. He cited White House adviser Gene Sperling’s comment earlier this month that the economy has three people looking for every job opening.

He said the House GOP leaders’ plan that’s taking shape would grant work permits almost immediately to those here illegally, giving them a chance to compete with unemployed Americans for any job. He said it would lead to a surge in unskilled workers and would provide amnesty to a larger number of immigrants in the country illegally, giving them a chance to apply for citizenship through green cards.

“House Republicans, in crafting immigration principles, should reply to the president’s immigration campaign with a simple message: Our focus is to help unemployed Americans get back to work, not to grant amnesty or to answer the whims of immigration activists and CEOs,” Sessions said in his memo.

Fox News has obtained a copy of Sessions’ critique.

Notably, two members of the House leadership, Boehner and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., spoke about dealing with the broken immigration system in their responses to Obama’s State of the Union address. How rank-and-file Republicans will respond is unclear, especially with a great deal of GOP wariness about whether Obama can be trusted to enforce an immigration law.

Obama’s waiver or suspension of provisions of his four-year-old health care law have increased suspicions among Republicans, and Sessions’ analysis highlighted the president’s State of the Union comments that he might act unilaterally on some issues if Congress balks.

Diaz-Balart expressed cautious optimism, putting the odds of House action on immigration at 30 percent, up from 5 percent earlier.

“There’s a consensus that the system is broken and I’m seeing more and more a desire to fix it,” he said in an interview. “Speaker Boehner has been very clear, leadership has been very clear. We’re going to do it methodically, that we’re going to look at it case by case, step by step, we’re not going to rush it.”

Republicans need to be very careful on this issue.

Farm Bill a Failure?

The folks over at National Review believe that the Farm Bill is a failure. Why? Too much spending for one. What do you think?

Congress passes a “farm bill” about every five years, to set spending levels for the massive federal food-stamp bureaucracy and regulate the generous irrigation of farmers’ bank accounts. The bill is always ostensibly chock-full of reforms and adjustments, yet it almost never gets much better.

This time is no different, and wasn’t even before a House–Senate conference stripped out a number of good Republican reforms. The House has passed the final bill anyway, and while we don’t have high hopes for the Senate, senators of both parties ought to demand a better bill rather than endorse such a meaningless improvement on the status quo.

In theory, the bill will spend less than would be spent under current law. But the “savings” — $16.6 billion — touted by House and Senate leaders are not just insignificant and unlikely to materialize; they also will take ten years to accumulate, in a bill that’s intended to cover only the next five years (the five-year savings are around $5 billion, 1 percent of the bill’s outlays over that time).

 

The vast majority of the bill’s spending is on food stamps — about $750 billion worth over the next ten years. House Republicans got just one serious, sensible reform in the final version, of the several they had managed to pass out of their chamber: “Heat and eat,” a loophole that encouraged states to make nominal contributions toward citizens’ utility bills in order to qualify them for greater food-stamp aid, is finally dead. But other “categorical eligibility” problems remain: A person with low income but significant assets, for instance, can still get food stamps. Most important, states aren’t given any power to require that long-term recipients of food stamps look for work, enroll in job training, or take jobs.

The massive explosion of the food-stamp program in recent years is almost entirely due to the anemic economy. But that doesn’t obviate the good sense of making beneficiaries try to find work, especially for single, childless adults, as the House modestly proposed.

The political harvest for farmers this year, though it makes up just about a fifth of the bill, remained robust. Land-conservation programs will be cut, in large part because corn and wheat producers are doing so well that they have little interest in offering up their land for preservation, and direct payments, an obviously ridiculous and easily transparent program, will be eliminated. Most of the savings — especially in the short term — will go into subsidizing even more crop insurance and beginning new programs to compensate farmers for lower-than-expected prices.

This may not sound, on its face, as bad as writing farmers checks every year based solely on how many acres they own. But having the taxpayer pick up almost two-thirds of farmers’ insurance premiums, and cutting checks straight to insurers for all the administrative costs, isn’t really better. Moreover, unlike the direct payments they help replace, these programs potentially run afoul of international trade rules, opening the U.S. up to new trade disputes.

Many crop prices are near all-time highs, and if they drop as expected, new loss-protection programs could — likely will — cost billions more than the CBO calculates. This could easily wipe out the “savings” on farm subsidies, much of which won’t come until the fifth year and later anyway, when a new bill will be up for consideration.

Speaker Boehner waged a yeoman’s fight to block a new dairy program, which would have granted USDA the power to impose production quotas on dairy farms to help prop up prices, at huge potential cost to the rest of the dairy production chain. But this program, which the House kept out of the conference bill, was merely proposed — killing it could be scored a real victory only if the CBO got into the punditry game. The rest of our rotten milk-subsidy system remains, $912 million richer over the next ten years than it will be if Congress passes nothing.

The farm section of the misnamed bill is likely, on balance, worse than current law. It may well turn out even worse than it’s projected. Ultimately conservatives would like massive changes to this quinquennial fraud: Food stamps and agriculture subsidies should be separated, with the latter going to the slaughterhouse. (Some of the benefits of doing the second, we might add, will show up at your supermarket.)

That is a lot to ask from Congress. But modest positive reforms — more than a 1 percent cut, perhaps — should not be too much to expect. This bill doesn’t have them.

Other Top Stories:

Ted Cruz vs. Eric Holder

Rand Paul Thinks GOP Can Win Back Young Voters 

Huckabee Leads for 2016

Pork In The Farm Bill

Al Qaeda Threat No Less Than a Decade Ago 

Obama’s Forget Me Not Tour

GOP to Surrender on Debt Ceiling

Republicans to Sue Obama?

GOP Senators Offer Income Inequality Fix 

CONTEST: KK Video Throwback Thursday Photo Contest

These and many more topics coming up on today’s edition of The Chad Hasty Show. Tune in mornings 8:30-11am on News/Talk 790 KFYO, streaming online at kfyo.com, and now on your iPhone and Android device with the radioPup App. All guest interviews can be heard online in our podcast section after the show at kfyo.com.

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