The Morning Jolt

Politics & Policy

Message to House Democrats: You Can’t Always Get What You Want

strange development: Liberal members of the U.S. House of Representatives seem to think they can get everything they want on legislation for DACA without making major concessions to Republicans and the Trump administration.

Democratic leaders are facing a potential revolt within their ranks as they edge toward a deal with Republicans that would protect Dreamers from deportation but also include concessions to conservatives that many Democratic lawmakers say are unacceptable.

Senate negotiators say they’re inching toward a bipartisan deal that broadly mirrors the parameters laid out during a meeting this week between lawmakers and President Donald Trump at the White House. They include ensuring legal status for Dreamers, strengthening border security and making changes to both family-based migration and the diversity lottery. . . . 

“I believe we need to pass a ‘clean’ Dream Act,” Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) said. “If we’re going to talk about, you know, all these other factors, then let’s just talk about comprehensive immigration reform.”

Several House liberals worry that Democratic senators, led by Minority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois, will strike a bad deal and force them to swallow it.

Why, it’s almost as if Democrats are in the minority of the House of Representatives, and they won’t be able to influence immigration legislation without making concessions!

The National Review editors assess what the immigration-control priorities ought to be:

Reforming chain migration would mitigate the follow-on consequences of amnestying hundreds of thousands of people, as well as reducing the number of legal immigrants we are admitting annually. (Democrats have been willing to consider changes to the chain-migration rules at least for the DACA population itself.) The visa diversity lottery doesn’t directly relate to DACA, but it allows immigrants to come here on a completely random basis and few are willing to defend the program on its merits.

Of course, Trump has made a top priority of securing funding for the border wall. We can always use more resources at the border, but the wall should rightfully be down the page of any restrictionist wish list (in addition to E-Verify, a working entry-exit visa system and cooperation from local officials on enforcement are more important). And reforming chain migration and ending the visa lottery are, substantively, much more meaningful changes.

The question is . . . does anyone at the White House feel like they know where the president’s “red lines” for negotiation are? Does it all come down to what the president’s gut tells him when a deal is presented to him?

Armageddon, Part Five

As Nancy Pelosi warned us . . . it’s Armageddon out there! (See parts one, two, three, and four.)

It’s Armageddon for the roughly 1 million hourly employees of Wal-Mart!

Walmart’s employees will reap the benefits of the recent tax law changes, as the company raises its starting wage and distributes bonuses to eligible workers.

The big-box retailer announced Thursday it will be increasing its starting wage rate for hourly employees in the U.S. to $11, and expand maternity and parental leave benefits. The retailer also will pay a one-time cash bonus to eligible employees of as much as $1,000.

Currently, Walmart’s starting wage is $9 until workers complete a training program. Then, they receive $10.

The company is also creating a new benefit that provides financial assistance to its employees who are looking to adopt a child, giving them as much as $5,000 per child to cover expenses such as adoption agency fees, translation fees and legal costs.

It’s Armageddon for trash collectors!

Waste Management, Inc. announced today that, in light of the meaningful contributions of its employees and the new U.S. corporate tax structure, the company will distribute US $2,000 in 2018 to every North American employee not on a bonus or sales incentive plan; that includes hourly and other employees.

Approximately 34,000 qualified Waste Management employees could receive this special bonus.

It’s Armageddon for electricity customers!

Washington Gas officials say they plan to pass on an estimated $34 million in annual tax savings in the rates charged to 1.1 million customers in the District, Maryland and Virginia. The lower rates would kick in early this year, the company said.

Dominion Energy, Virginia’s largest utility, with 2.5 million customers, is evaluating the impact of the corporate tax cut and “how it might benefit our customers,” spokesman Chuck Penn said.

It’s Armageddon for winery employees!

In response to the tax cut bill that passed this week, John Jordan, owner of Jordan Winery in Sonoma County, California, announces that he will give all eligible winery employees a$1,000 bonus as a result of the passage of the 2017 tax reform bill.

It’s Armageddon for . . . digital sheet-music makers!

The new year brings a new salary increase for all 55 employees at Musicnotes, Inc., the worldwide leader in digital sheet music based in Madison, Wisconsin. Effective January 1st, the 3% salary increase is tied specifically to corporate tax reform and is in addition to Musicnotes’ existing annual raises to eligible employees.

It’s Armageddon for pharmaceutical companies!

Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corporation CEO Lou Kennedy today announced five percent increases for all employees with the exception of commissioned employees. The raises are a direct result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that was signed into law last week by President Donald Trump.

It’s Armageddon for credit-card company employees!

“Tax reform in the United States will strengthen Visa’s competitive position globally and create new opportunities for Visa to invest in our business,” the company said in a statement. “With the additional 401(k) match, Visa’s U.S. employees will enjoy a sustained benefit, consistent with the role they will play in building our business.”

The company said it will increase its 401(k) contribution to 10 percent of base salary. In other words, an employee who earns $100,000 a year can set aside $5,000 and the company will contribute $10,000. Visa’s longstanding policy has been to contribute $2 for every $1 an employee contributes. Employees can now contribute up to 5 percent of base pay, up from 3 percent.

Oh, the humanity! When will it all end?

The Impossibility of Bannonism without Bannon, or Populism without a Dark Fringe

Quite a few folks I respect are describing a desire for a “populism without Bannon” or a “Bannonism without Bannon.” It would indeed be nice if you could separate the ideas of a political movement from its most odious advocates and adherents.

But I don’t think that’s possible, or at least easily done. If a particular idea is advocated by horrible people, it’s going to lose support among everyone else. We see this in polling, where people will suddenly oppose a political idea they supported in a previous question once it’s associated with a figure they dislike, like Donald Trump or Barack Obama. If David Duke invented cold fusion, a significant number of people would be uncomfortable with using the clean energy it provided.

Or for a less theoretical example, take Ron Paul’s campaign and platform. He was at one point a Libertarian candidate for president, but he was also passionately pro-life. He vehemently opposes the War on Drugs, was a fierce critic of the Federal Reserve, and was isolationist on foreign policy. He opposed just about all taxes, deficits, capital punishment, and proposals for gun control. He wants to eliminate the departments of Energy, Housing and Urban Development, Commerce, Interior, and Education. I’ve probably listed off a couple of things you like, and a couple of things you don’t like. But nothing in those beliefs is inherently disreputable or associated with anti-Semitism, racism, or white nationalism.

But as I noted a little while back, for some reason a lot of hateful anti-Semites sure took an interest in the Ron Paul campaigns. There was the big dust-up about his old political newsletters, which frequently veered into nutty conspiracy theories about the Mossad committing terror attacks on American soil. The congressman insisted he had no idea what was being written in the Ron Paul Political Report, Ron Paul’s Freedom Report, the Ron Paul Survival Report, and so on. His former aide claimed that Paul’s perspective on the Second World War was that “saving the Jews” was “absolutely none of our business.” As far back as 2007, white supremacists were discussing the benefits of a Ron Paul presidency. Maybe Ron Paul genuinely never did anything to attract or encourage this kind of support. But if he didn’t, it sure is a mysterious coincidence the way members of these kinds of groups kept trying to jump on his bandwagon, cycle after cycle.

In the end, I don’t think you’ll ever see a populism that is freed from its lunatic fringe and darker, more hateful voices. At the heart of populism is a need for an enemy of “elites.” That always aligns pretty well with an anti-Semite’s view of the world, that “the Jews” are secretly pulling the strings behind every major institution in society. But I’d also argue that it’s really difficult to cultivate a populism that is aligned with a strong emphasis on personal responsibility.

If the elites are up to no good, then they’re probably responsible for most of the problems in the lives of the citizenry, and if they’re responsible, well then, you, an ordinary citizen, are not responsible. It’s not your fault. Sure, maybe you dropped out of school, fought with your boss, did shoddy work, developed a drug or drinking problem, or made other bad choices, but none of that really mattered because the corporate fatcats/globalists/Bilderbergers/Illuminati were manipulating things behind the scenes. None of your bad decisions had any real consequence because the game was rigged anyway.

At the heart of populism is the argument, “It isn’t your fault, it’s their fault” — which is an unsurprisingly popular message.

ADDENDA: Over on NRO’s home page, I take a look at Senator Ron Johnson’s idea to unify his state’s Republican party after primary season.

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