Saturday, October 27, 2007

The fight over driver's licenses for the "undocumented" in New York seems to be heating up. The state Senate has passed a bill requiring Social Security numbers on applications for licenses. Many doubt that the (Democrat-controlled) state Assembly will support this bill. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton is saying some positive things about Spitzer's plan to grant licenses to the "undocumented." And some NY county clerks say they'll report "undocumented" applicants for licenses to the authorities.
UPDATE: Homeland Security and Spitzer seem to have negotiated a "deal" on licensing standards, leading to three types of licenses: "enhanced," REAL-ID compliant, and a type for the "undocumented."

Friday, October 26, 2007

In a his recent (Drudge-pushed) column, Pat Buchanan laments the "conservative Tower of Babel":

Now, 15 years later, what does it mean to be a conservative?

There is no pope who speaks ex cathedra. There is no bible to consult, like Goldwater's "The Conscience of a Conservative" or Reagan's "no-pale-pastels" platform of 1980. At San Diego in 1996, Bob Dole told his convention he had not bothered to read the platform. Many who heard him did not bother to vote for Bob Dole.

And so, today, the once-great house of conservatism is a Tower of Babel. We are big government and small government, traditionalist and libertarian, tax-cutter and budget hawk, free trader and economic nationalist.

Though Buchanan has a flair for pessimism, is such a conflict of ideas necessarily bad for conservatism (or any other political philosophy)? Political coalitions and political schools of thought seem to me usually to be having some internal debates, and, sometimes, at moments of heightened electoral change, these debates can widen into more heated divisions. (I also wonder if political "conservatism" was as unified or as certain in the past as Buchanan makes it out to be.)

Conflict between groups in a party can (though, perhaps, not necessarily) ultimately lead to a stronger party as a whole. It seems as though some significant choices are facing conservatism and the Republican party; because these choices are significant, it's likely that there will be some debate over them. But it also seems as though there are some significant choices for the Democratic party as well: Obama, Edwards, and Clinton all seem to have different approaches to executive power and the role of federal government intervention. This time of conflict can offer political opportunities to both parties--depending on what choices they make (to be totally bland).

UPDATE: And, of course, Buchanan has certain choices he would like the Republicans to make.

This doesn't sound like a very good PR move.
The WSJ reports that, with tightened border security and an estimated overall decrease in border crossings, more of the "undocumented" who wish to cross are paying more to do so--sometimes to drug-running gangs.
While some growers are clamoring for more foreign-born workers, Krikorian draws attention to a point where it seems as though Acting Agriculture Secretary Chuck Conner has said that the Bush administration will oppose AgJOBS, a legalization/guest worker plan.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Fighting for Citizenship: Max Boot, a McCain adviser, thinks the Secretary of Defense should offer US citizenship to anyone willing to serve in the US military--and he says this policy would not even need further Congressional authorization (e.a.):
I think this [the DREAM Act] a good piece of legislation that takes a major step toward one of my dreams: to offer American citizenship to anyone anywhere in the world willing to serve in the American armed forces. This would vastly broaden our recruiting base, allowing the armed forces to sign up all sorts of talented people who are currently prohibited from joining. They would, of course, have to pass background investigations and meet all existing criteria for military service, including English-language proficiency.

I’ve been advocating this idea for several years, and even though it’s not currently possible, I’ve gotten emails from Canadians, Chinese, Dutch, and other foreigners wanting to sign up for our armed forces. All it would take to make their dreams a reality would be for the Secretary of Defense to certify that enlisting them is in the national interest. Legislation isn’t required, although that’s another way this objective could be achieved.

Boot proposes the idea of a "freedom legion" completely comprised of foreigner-soldiers:

I have also suggested that we might want to have a Freedom Legion modeled on the French Foreign Legion, whose enlisted ranks would be composed entirely of foreigners but which would be led by American officers and NCOs. Such a Freedom Legion could be very useful for integrating the sort of language and linguistic skills lacking in our military, and it could be used for longterm garrison duty in places like Afghanistan and Iraq.

This Boston Globe story has more on the debate about actively recruiting non-citizens to serve in the US military.
As I mentioned above, Boot's advising McCain on foreign policy--and McCain conveniently missed the vote on the DREAM Act even though he was there to vote on the Southwick nomination barely an hour before. Do Boot's views reflect McCain's on foreign military service?
This Politico story draws attention to the bi-partisan nature of the opposition to the DREAM Act and other steps toward immigration "reform." It wonders about AgJOBS--which some may try to attach to the upcoming agriculture bill.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Will Rep. Rangel (D-NY)'s proposed corporate tax bill weaken tax incentives for domestic manufacturing? Even as this bill seems likely to reduce corporate tax rates across the board (from 35% to 30.5%), it would in part make up for this reduction be eliminating a deduction for domestic manufacturing:
Manufacturing companies, for example, would lose a deduction for domestic production that now reduces their tax rate on manufacturing income to 32%. But the lower corporate tax rate would be attractive and would apply to all income.
So it looks like Rangel's plan would reduce the overall tax rate on domestic manufacturers, but it would not reduce it (and would in fact increase it) relative to other corporate taxes. So it seems like this new plan would offer one fewer incentive for corporations to manufacture in the US (under Rangel's plan, the corp. would be taxed the same whether it manufactured in the US or in another country).
The Bush administration has come out against the DREAM Act. A few key paragraphs from its announcement:
The Administration continues to believe that the Nation’s broken immigration system requires comprehensive reform. This reform should include strong border and interior enforcement, a temporary worker program, a program to bring the millions of undocumented aliens out of the shadows without amnesty and without animosity, and assistance that helps newcomers assimilate into American society. Unless it provides additional authorities in all of these areas, Congress
will do little more than perpetuate the unfortunate status quo.
The Administration is sympathetic to the position of young people who were brought here illegally as children and have come to know the United States as home. Any resolution of their status, however, must be careful not to provide incentives for recurrence of the illegal conduct that has brought the Nation to this point. By creating a special path to citizenship that is unavailable to other prospective immigrants—including young people whose parents respected the Nation’s immigration laws—S. 2205 falls short. The Administration therefore opposes the

The open-ended nature of S. 2205 is objectionable and will inevitably lead to large-scale document fraud. The path to citizenship remains open for decades, thus creating a strong temptation for future illegal aliens to purchase fraudulent documents on a burgeoning black market. Moreover, the bill’s confidentiality provisions are drawn straight from the 1986 amnesty law and will provide the same haven for fraud and criminality as that law did.
Immigration is one of the top concerns of the American people—and of this Administration—but it needs to be addressed in a comprehensive and balanced way that avoids creating incentives for problems in the future.
Tally so far (will be updated--so refresh):

Interesting supporters of cloture: Hutchison, Webb, Collins, Martinez, Brownback, Bennett, Coleman, Craig, Domenici (?)

Interesting opponents: Byrd, Voinovich, Stevens, Dorgan, Gregg, Tester, Murkowski, Conrad, Specter, Graham, Warner; Domenici switches?

These votes are flying everywhere! But (as of 12:50 EST), cloture seems to be fighting uphill...

Cloture fails 52-44

UPDATE: Those who are interested can check out some excerpts from the Bush administration's statement against the DREAM Act here.
Hutchison (R-TX) sounds like she's going to support cloture on introducing this measure; Specter (R-PA) sounds like he'll be against cloture. Specter is still pressing for "comprehensive reform" and says he is skeptical about piecemeal reform (such as the DREAM Act passed alone).
The debate on introducing the DREAM Act has now started.
The Politico reports on some possible tensions between "Blue Dogs" and Congressional Democratic leadership; a number of Blue Dogs haven't given much money to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Now, is this a sign of real tensions or the attempt to make the Blue Dogs seem more independent in case they run into a tougher re-election races in 2008? Both?
A report claims that Bush's growth in discretionary spending in the first 6 years of his administration eclipses even that of LBJ: 5.3%/year vs. 4.6%/year. Of course, there can also be growth in non-discretionary programs (or even the creation of them) such as Social Security or Medicare, so those numbers might not tell the whole story about growth in government spending over an administration--but, then, Bush may have increased some of that spending, too.
It sounds as though, at the moment, the Southwick debate will probably go on until 11AM EST or so; then, it's expected that DREAM will be considered.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Text of the DREAM Act here.
The Center for Immigration Studies has just released some new numbers about the present DREAM Act; the Center estimates that up to or over 2.1 million individuals could be legalized under DREAM (e.a.):
# An estimated 800,000 illegal immigrants under age 17 have been here long enough to qualify for legalization under the DREAM Act. There are a total of 1.7 million illegal aliens estimated to be under age 17.

# There are an estimated 900,000 parents of illegal aliens under age 17 who qualify. It is unclear whether the government would deport these parents.

# The DREAM Act is also unclear as to what will happen to the siblings of legalized illegals who are themselves illegal, but do not meet the Act’s requirements. There are an estimated 500,000 of these siblings.

# The DREAM Act also allows illegal aliens ages 18 to 29 to legalize if they claim to have arrived prior to age 16. We estimate 1.3 million meet this requirement. There are a total of 4.4 million illegal aliens in this age group.

# Thus the total number of potential amnesty beneficiaries is 2.1 million (assuming no fraud). This does not include 1.4 million siblings and parents of qualifying illegals who may end up receiving a de facto amnesty.

# Prior legalization programs have been plagued by fraud. One-fourth (700,000) of those legalized in the 1986 amnesty are estimated to have done so fraudulently.
A note on this study's methodology:
Methodology: These estimates are based on a Center for Immigration Studies analysis of the March 2007 Current Population Survey (CPS) collected by the Census Bureau. No estimate is definitive, of course, but the Urban Institute, the Pew Hispanic Center, and the INS have all used the March CPS to estimate the size of the illegal population. We estimated that the survey included more than 11 million illegals in 2007. This is entirely consistent with prior research. The above numbers do NOT include those illegal aliens missed by the Census Bureau’s survey. The Department of Homeland Security and other researchers have estimated that 10 percent of illegals are likely missed in Census Bureau surveys of this kind. Thus, the actual number of potential beneficiaries is almost certainly higher than the numbers discussed above.
The Hill wonders if moving on to consider the DREAM Act in the Senate could open the door to a more wide-ranging debate on immigration:
If the supporters reach the 60 votes needed to proceed to the Dream Act, it could become a vehicle for other competing amendments and reignite debate on a comprehensive overhaul of immigration policies, which the Senate rejected by a 46-53 vote in June. A similar situation could occur with the so-called agriculture jobs measure.
This story says, though, that sections of the Democratic leadership (Durbin) say they want to keep debate on this bill "focused"--will other members of the Senate oblige them?
So who could be on the fence about the DREAM Act? A pro-DREAM group is urging its members to call the following senators:
Cornyn, John- (R - TX) (202) 224-2934
Hutchison, Kay Bailey- (R - TX) (202) 224-5922
Thad Cochran (202) 224- 5054
Norm Coleman(202) 224-5641
John Sununu (202) 224-2841
Olympia Snowe (202) 224-5344
Jon Tester (202) 224-2644
Richard Burr (202) 224-3154
John Warner (202) 224-2023
Lindsey Graham (202) 224-5972
Judd Gregg (202) 224-3324
Chuck Grassley (202) 224-3744
Tim Johnson (202) 224-5842
Robert Byrd (202) 224-3954
Byron Dorgan (202) 224-2551
Pete Domenici (202) 224-6621
Max Baucus (202) 224-2651
Larry Craig (202) 224-2752
Ted Stevens (202) 224-3004
George Voinovich (202) 224-3353
Lisa Murkowski (202) 224-6665
Claire McCaskill (202) 224-6154
Benjamin Nelson (202) 224-6551
John Barrasso (202) - 224-6441
Susan Collins (202) 224-2523
Crapo (202) 224-6142
Bennet (202) 224-5444
Martinez (202) 224-3041
Sen Brownback, Sam [KS] - (202) 224-6521
Sen Landrieu, Mary L. [LA] - (202) 224-5824
Sen Ensign (202) 224-6244
It excludes both (very) likely opponents (e.g. Sessions) and supporters (e.g. Durbin) of the DREAM Act, so this may give some hint of where the undecided senators are. Is this list reliable?

UPDATE 10/23: Could this vote on the filibuster be pretty close? According to one news source, Durbin's trying to sound confident:
Durbin said that the vote tally was “somewhere in the mid 50’s” and that Republican support was growing “by the minute.”
There are a lot of minutes until Wednesday. 60 votes are needed to override a filibuster. Durbin is probably playing the expectations game, but that game doesn't always work out: a lot of folks were confident the "grand bargain" would pass the Senate in June, and it didn't. So this probably isn't decided one way or another yet--but I could be wrong.

(Via Malkin) Cornyn's office has released a statement saying that he'll vote against the motion to proceed to the DREAM Act tomorrow.

NumbersUSA lists the following 21 senators as being confirmed against the DREAM:

Alabama: Sessions; Shelby
Arizona: Kyl [[UPDATE 10/24]]
Colorado: Allard
Georgia: Chambliss; Isakson
Kansas: Roberts
Kentucky: Bunning; McConnell
Louisiana: Vitter
Mississippi: Lott
Missouri: Bond
North Carolina: Burr; Dole
Oklahoma: Coburn; Inhofe
South Carolina: DeMint
South Dakota: Thune
Tennessee: Alexander; Corker
Texas: Cornyn [[UPDATE 10/24]]
Wyoming: Barrasso; Enzi
It has this breakdown of other senators ("red" means declared supporters of DREAM and "green" means that these senators' offices "are consistently telling their constituents that they will vote NO on the amnesty [i.e. DREAM] . But they have declined to pledge a NO vote to NumbersUSA staff"):
California: Boxer 224-3553; Feinstein 224-3841
Colorado: Salazar 224-5852
Connecticut: Dodd 224-2823; Lieberman 224-4041
Florida: Martinez 224-3041; Nelson (Bill) 224-5274
Illinois: Durbin 224-2152; Obama 224-2854
Louisiana: Landrieu 224-5824
Maryland: Cardin 224-4524; Mikulski 224-4654
Montana: Baucus 224-2651; Tester 224-2644
Nebraska: Hagel 224-4224; Nelson (Ben) 224-6551
New Hampshire: Gregg 224-3324; Sununu 224-2841
New Jersey: Lautenberg 224-3224; Menendez 224-4744
South Carolina: Graham 224-5972
Utah: Bennett 224-5444; Hatch 224-5251
If all those in "green" vote as their offices are telling their constituents, and everything else stays the same, it looks like opponents of DREAM may have at least 26 [[UPDATE: 27]] votes (21 confirmed + Cornyn + 4 greens). A lot of senators who ultimately did not support the "grand bargain" sound officially undecided, so there could be a lot of play. Who could be some crucial swings? I might guess: McCaskill (D-MO), Coleman (R-MN), Byrd (D-WV), Murkowski (R-AL), Hutchison (R-TX), Collins (R-ME), Grassley (R-IA), Bingaman (D-NM), Dorgan (D-ND), Baucus (D-MT) (if Tester's really going to oppose cloture), Pryor (D-AR). Maybe?

UPDATE: A source tells John Hawkins that McConnell and R leadership in the Senate really want to keep the vote margin under 60. His sources also don't quite know how the vote count stands at the moment....

UPDATE 10/24: NumbersUSA now has Kyl (R-AZ) as declared against the DREAM, so opponents now may have at least 27 votes.
Malkin draws attention to this detail in a USA Today story:

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., the legislation's chief sponsor, said Tuesday that his biggest challenge was ensuring that supporters, including five senators — four Democrats and one Republican — running for president, make it to the Capitol for the roll call.

Another question mark: Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, who are trying to return to California to review wildfire damage.

UPDATE: I'm keeping a running tally here.
Fred Thompson is planning on announcing some details of an immigration policy.
UPDATE: Thompson announces.
NumbersUSA reports that the DREAM Act may be coming back (emphasis added):
Last night, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) filed to invoke cloture on a motion to use Senate Rule XIV to bring S. 2205, Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin’s (D-Ill.) new stand-alone DREAM Act amnesty bill, to the Senate floor without ever having been debated in committee. The cloture vote, for which 60 YES votes are necessary to prevent a filibuster on the measure, is set for Wednesday, October 24.

Monday, October 22, 2007

It sounds like some NY Democrats are unhappy with some of Gov. Spitzer (D)'s plans (especially for providing the "undocumented" with driver's licenses):
Top Democrats fear that Gov. Spitzer's controversial plan to grant driver's licenses to illegal aliens has endangered their party's candidates across the state -- and even threatens the presidential prospects of Hillary Rodham Clinton, The Post has learned.

A half-dozen senior Democrats told The Post that Spitzer's licensing plan is producing what one called "a mass exodus" away from the party's candidates that may lead to unexpected losses in November's local elections.

They are also warning that growing voter unhappiness with Spitzer on the licensing and other issues - illustrated in several recent polls - could carry into next year and end the Democrats' hope of winning control of the GOP-dominated state Senate.

So is this just some behind-the-scenes fighting between various factions of the NY Democratic party, or/and is there some merit to what these "senior Democrats" are warning about? (Certainly, Spitzer's approval rating has dropped from 60% to 47% over the last few months, and many New Yorkers--over 70%--don't sound happy with his plan.) Some say Sen. Clinton will be forced to reject Spitzer's plan for electoral reasons. Will she?

Does "unplanted cucumbers"=crop rot epidemic? Kaus wonders...
Get manly. (Even if Derb thinks it's immature...)
CQ reports on how Congress is very likely to pass a measure that would place limits on presidential power to take control of the National Guard--rescinding a 2006 law and returning to 200 years of precedent for limitations on executive use of the military to enforce local laws:

The original law, in place for nearly 200 years, was called the Insurrection Act. It allowed the president to deploy regular or Guard troops for police duties whenever laws were not being enforced or the rights of a class of people are being denied because of “insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination or conspiracy.”

The 2006 revision describes basically the same state of chaos that might trigger the presidential power. But the circumstances that lead to the unrest are more numerous. They include “natural disaster, epidemic, or other serious public health emergency, terrorist attack or incident or other condition.”

Critics — including the co-chairmen of the Senate National Guard Caucus, Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., and Christopher S. Bond, R-Mo. — said the new law shifted the burden of legal proof onto anyone who would stand in the way of a president grabbing control of the military for domestic police activities.

However, there's some debate about another passage in the new bill about "new procedures for the control of National Guard and active-duty troops during domestic emergencies."

The Politico comments on the election of Bobby Jindal (R) as governor of Louisiana.
GM seems to have edged out Toyota's sales numbers for the third quarter (and for the year so far).