|Nancy Pelosi’s Plan to Kill Her Own Caucus|
By Ashton Ellis
Monday, November 15 2010
Passing controversial legislation with narrow majorities and parliamentary tricks is a recipe for electoral disaster. Cramming a series of unpopular votes into a lame duck session after a national shellacking is political suicide. Apparently, outgoing U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is to House Democrats what Jack Kevorkian was to terminally ill patients: the last, worst hope for relief.
The most lethal injection Pelosi wants to administer is passage of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (“DREAM”) Act. On its face, the DREAM Act would grant legal status to illegal immigrants who embark on one of two paths to citizenship: enroll in an American college or enlist in the military. The Act applies to any illegal immigrant who entered the United States before turning 16 years old, and who has resided in America for five years before the law goes into effect.
In reality, the DREAM Act is a stripped-down version of amnesty for illegal immigrants. Stymied in their efforts to win “comprehensive” amnesty for 10 million illegal immigrants under the last Bush Administration, the open borders crowd championed by Pelosi is doing what liberals always do when backed into a corner: blame the children for growing the government.
According to DreamAct.info, a pro-DREAM Act website, approximately 65,000 illegal immigrants graduate from American high schools every year. Having benefited from publicly provided K-12 education, however, is not enough. These students also need the inducement of being granted citizenship for graduating with a college degree.
If the DREAM Act is really about creating opportunity, it wouldn’t restrict the benefits of American citizenship only to illegal immigrants, but would open it to the thousands of foreign students attending American universities on an approved student visa. This approach would allow Chinese, Indian and African students studying the kinds of math and science disciplines the American economy needs to stay in a country already fulfilling their dreams. Sending these high-achieving students back home forces them to help America’s economic competitors.
If Pelosi succeeds in bringing the DREAM Act to a vote she will usher in a new kind of wedge issue politics. Ordinarily, a wedge issue is used to divide members of the opposing party. In this case, Pelosi’s push to vote on a condensed form of amnesty for illegal immigrants will only further separate the liberals and moderates in her caucus. If it passes, Republicans have yet another divisive issue to use against sensible Democrats in the next campaign cycle. If it fails, the Latino activists who helped Senators Harry Reid (D-NV) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) win new terms will demand even greater concessions the next time around.
None of this takes into account Pelosi’s other tactic for euthanizing future Democratic electoral hopes. By refusing to extend the Bush era tax cuts to all current beneficiaries, Pelosi is destroying the economic incentive of high-earners to grow their businesses and staff. If the cuts lapse and taxes rise, Pelosi’s Democratic colleagues shouldn’t be surprised when their “fat cat” friends on Wall Street don’t have any extra campaign contributions to spare in 2012. At some point even liberal capitalists have to say no.
Pelosi says she wants to help lead her party back to power by sliding into the Minority Leader’s seat when the Republican majority takes control next January. But her agenda for the lame duck session is anything but a prescription for her caucus’s long-term health. If House Democrats need a reminder of what Pelosi will do for them, they just need to look into the eyes of their 60+ plus former colleagues newly tossed from office. Political suicide is most definitely painful.
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