Earlier this week, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) issued an executive order directing “all state agencies not to participate in the federal health care overhaul,” specifically demanding they not seek any discretionary funding available through the Affordable Care Act. In issuing the order, Pawlenty vowed to do “anything that I can do to slow down, limit or negate Obamacare,” warning that it “threatens private sector economic growth.” Immediately, the move and its implicit attack on President Obama were seen as a means to position Pawlenty for a presidential bid in 2012. Indeed, his Political Action Committee promptly tried to raise money off of Pawlenty’s order.
But his claim about the law’s danger to businesses were quickly undercut. As the AP reported, the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce is calling on Pawlenty to accept the funds:
Chamber President David Olson sent a letter to the Republican governor this week encouraging him to specifically apply for a $1 million federal planning grant to study a potential health insurance exchange.
“This grant does not require the state to create an exchange,” Olson wrote. “Instead, it allows for an independent and comprehensive actuarial analysis of an exchange. The analysis will help us determine whether or not an exchange is a cost effective option for Minnesotans shopping for health care coverage.”
Olson also stressed that an exchange could possibly have a significant impact on Minnesota businesses.
But in urging Pawlenty to take federal money available through the Affordable Care Act, the Minnesota Chamber seems to be breaking with with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has relentlesslyattacked the health care plan since before it became law. Still, while many of the U.S. Chamber’s right-wing allies have signed onto an effort to completelyrepeal the Affordable Care Act, the Chamber has tellingly hedged, saying full repeal “is not a realistic option.” The Chamber has led efforts to repeal small portions of the Act, but perhaps they quietly realize — as it appears the Minnesota Chamber has — that the law can actually be very helpful to businesses.
Earlier this summer, when Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) suggested that he may try to amend the Constitution to deny the American-born children of undocumented immigrants citizenship, he argued that “[p]eople come here to have babies. They come here to drop a child. It’s called ‘drop and leave.’” Graham also claimed that there is a rampant problem of “birth tourism,” or pregnant women coming to the U.S. on tourist visas simply to have children who are automatically American-born citizens. Meanwhile, other lawmakers support changing the 14th amendment’s citizenship requirements because granting automatic citizenship “encourages” illegal immigration.
However, the Associated Press reports that, though it exists, the trend is “not as dramatic as some immigration opponents have claimed”:
Out of 340,000 babies born to illegal immigrants in the United States in 2008, 85 percent of the parents had been in the country for more than a year, and more than half for at least five years, Jeffrey Passel, a senior demographer for Pew, told The Associated Press.
And immigration experts say it’s extraordinarily rare for immigrants to come to the U.S. just so they can have babies and get citizenship. In most cases, they come to the U.S. for economic reasons and better hospitals, and end up staying and raising families.
Watch ABC’s segment on “birth tourism”:
The Associated Press concedes that, “some pregnant Mexican women do come to the United States. In border cities like Nogales, women have been coming to the U.S. for decades to give birth.” However, the article explains that most of those women are seeking better medical care, not citizenship.
All in all, neither citizenship nor health care is what drives immigrants to the U.S. Princeton University sociologist Douglas Massey, who is quoted in the piece and has surveyed Mexican immigrants to the U.S. for 30 years, has explained in the past that “no one ever mentioned having kids in the U.S…what our work shows is that migrants come in response to labor demand in the U.S. and are motivated by economic problems at home.”
In fact, Massey suggests that tightened border security might be responsible for the number of pregnant, immigrant women giving birth in the U.S.: “They end up having babies in the United States because men can no longer circulate freely back and forth from homes in Mexico to jobs in the United States and husbands and wives quite understandably want to be together.”
Finally, if the 14th amendment really was driving undocumented immigrants to the U.S., sociologists note there would be a higher percentage of women of child-bearing age in the U.S. illegally compared to men of the same age. However, data shows just the opposite. Undocumented men significantly outnumber undocumented women.
Fox News contributor and former Bush White House Press Secretary Dana Perino has an interesting column up on FoxNews.com today. Perino appears to be very concerned about President Obama’s “relationship” with America. Looking back to the early days of Obama’s presidency — when “America was excited about its new relationship” with the country’s first African-American president — Perino digs deep into her vault of keen-eyed political analysis, looks at where Obama is today, and likens his relationship with the American people to her single friends’ bad romances with their boyfriends:
The coverage of the growing disconnect between President Obama and America reminds me of some of my single friends lamenting the distance they feel with their boyfriends. For some of them, there’s a pattern — intense excitement at the promise of a new relationship, followed by bewilderment and anger as it starts to unravel, and ending in broken hearts and healing mantras of, “He just wasn’t right for me.” [...]
But hope sprang eternal – until another few months passed, and America started feeling jilted. “He just doesn’t understand me. He just doesn’t GET me. And, what’s worse, he doesn’t seem to care that he doesn’t. Lately I feel like he’s just saying what he thinks I want to hear. It’s like he’s just going through the motions.”.
But lucky for the President, the former Bush flack has some relationship advice. The President should “show us he cares,” Perino says:
In some relationships, couples seek counseling to work it out. The man might promise to try to pay more attention to the woman, to actually listen rather than just pretend to, and to show more emotion. She might agree to give him more space, support him more and nag him less. This can go on for a while, and sometimes people are able to work it out – if both parties are willing.
However, Perino doesn’t think Obama is going to work it out with the American people. “In the relationship between America and the president, it’s not clear that either party is willing to do what it takes to make it work,” she says, predicting that after the mid-terms, “many people are going to decide that it’s time they started seeing other people.” Let’s face it Mr. President, according to Perino, the American people are just not that into you.
One of these days, I’m going to write one of these entries, and y’all will abandon me in droves. I promise to be especially hardcore next week in recompense. But: I cannot stop listening to the Ludacris verse in Justin Bieber’s “Baby”:
I find the whole artifact kind of fascinating: the creepiness of a 16-year-old declaring that “I’ll buy you anything / I’ll buy you any ring” to retain his ex’s affections, the dissonant naivete and knowingness of the line, which both captures the sense that your first love lasts forever, and acknowledges it’s just a first relationship of “I just can’t believe my first love won’t be around.” But the Ludacris verse is actually a much better mini-narrative and capture of the fluttery feelings of that first playground crush. And it’s got this awesome, skittery pacing that emphasizes the emotions involved really well. Also, I like the imagery of Luda, who is like, a foot and a half taller than the Biebs, schooling him on the ways of romance and pop music, and merrily cashing what I’m sure is a fat paycheck all the while.
Amy Davidson sums up the strange tale of how the Kabul Bank bank run came about:
One is his brother, Mahmoud Karzai. He is in a better position to come out of this well than the depositors who were heading to the bank to get their money out this morning; there is a fair amount of confusion at the moment about who’s in control, what the central bank’s role will be, and, most of all, where all the money has gone. [...] So President Karzai’s brother has been living in a villa in the Emirates that constitutes a questionable investment by the bank he partially owns; but he might move. The Wall Street Journal said that a U.S. official had tried to make the case that the removal of bank officials was “a sign” that Karzai was getting a little bit serious about corruption.
The removal of bank officials has, however, not entailed doing anything to Mahmoud Karzai which seems to be the issue here. According to the journal, Karzai is just shifting to another major Afghan bank that now stands to reap new windfalls. Apparently we need Simon Johnson to start doing more Afghan War coverage.
Joking aside, something I find frustrating about coverage of US policy in Afghanistan is how dominated it is by “national security reporters” even though one of the main things the national security reporters tell us is that the military considers economic development and state-building to be integral to their strategy. That means we also need coverage from people who are knowledgeable about banking systems and currency flows. If our strategy involves sending civilian agricultural experts to Afghanistan, then some of the coverage of the strategy needs to be done by people who know something about agriculture.
Two weeks ago, Amanda Terkel signed off for the last time as deputy editor at ThinkProgress. You may have already seen some of her articles at the Huffington Post, where she is now a senior politics reporter. After approximately six years at the Center for American Progress, Amanda was ready to tackle a new challenge. While it’s sad not having her around the office, we’re excited to see her incredible creative talents being put towards a good cause.
Amanda was the most prolific blogger in ThinkProgress history, authoring literally thousands of posts for us. She started as a junior researcher on the team over five years ago, and worked her way up to become one of the top progressive bloggers on the web – in addition to being one of its leading female writers.
Though small in stature, Amanda had a towering presence that we’ve all looked up to throughout the years. Around the office, Amanda was a close friend and mentor to both staff and interns. She always had a smile on her face, a story to tell, and a blog post idea to write up. Here’s a sampling of our favorite Amanda posts (though our long-time readers will probably have others to share in the comments section):
I Was Followed, Harassed, And Ambushed By Bill O’Reilly’s Producer [Link]
O’Reilly Attacks Me As A ‘Villain’ For Highlighting His Rape Comments [Link]
Taking Advantage Of Citizens United, Dirty Coal Groups Form 527 To Elect Industry-Friendly Republicans [Link]
Cantor Says Federal Spending Doesn’t ‘Create Jobs’ — At Job Fair With Companies Funded By The Stimulus [Link]
State Rep: In Oklahoma, There’s A ‘Feeling That Women Aren’t Capable Of Making Reproductive Decisions’ [Link]
Right-Wing Radio Host On NY Mosque: ‘I Hope Somebody Blows It Up’ [Link]
Bush wipes his hand on Clinton’s shirt after shaking hands with Haitian residents. [Link]
Malkin On Detainee Suicides: ‘Boo-Freakin-Hoo’ [Link]
June and July’s job creation numbers were revised upward somewhat, but the fact remains that this level of job creation is not enough to foster an acceptable recovery. In fact, as Derek Thompson noted, “if every twelve months, we added as many jobs as the best year in the last decade, we wouldn’t get back to full employment for another eleven years.” Calculated Risk has the graph:
The Obama administration has been dropping some hints that a new job creation package is in the works, and it has been appropriately hammering Senate Republicans for obstructing a bill providing tax credits and loans to small businesses. But given the deficit hysterics that have gripped Capitol Hill, the chance that a substantial jobs program emerges are, as Edmund Andrews put it, “somewhere between zero and zero point zero.”
However, there are some under-the-radar things that could be done, like renewing the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Emergency Contingency Fund, which is set to expire in a few weeks. As Joy Moses and Melissa Boteach note, “this program has enabled 35 states to partner with the private sector over the past year and a half to create more than 240,000 new jobs for low-income and long-term unemployed workers.” Republicans in Congress enjoy mocking this particular program, but it has substantial support amongst Republicans at the state level that could help push a renewal through.
Also, it’s rather mystifying that, with the Obama administration talking about payroll tax cuts to boost the economy and emphasizing its intention to preserve the Bush tax cuts for the middle class, no administration figures are talking about an extension of the Making Work Pay tax credit, which was passed as part of the Recovery Act.
As Jamelle Bouie noted, “the fact that we’re talking about ‘extending the Bush tax cuts’ and not ‘passing the Obama tax cuts’ is a real political failure on the part of the Democrats.” Indeed, Obama’s signature tax cut, which he campaigned heavily on, is garnering no attention whatsoever, and seems destined to expire with little fanfare.
Now, neither of these measures would provide the sort of large-scale job creation necessary to push the economy out of its sluggish current state. But they would help on the margins, and given political constraints, might be the best that we can hope for.
Peter Orszag, economist and former director of the Office of Management and Budget, will become a contributing columnist for The New York Times Op-Ed page. Beginning Tuesday, Sept. 7, his columns will appear one to two times a month in The Times and online at NYTimes.com/opinion and will cover a broad range of economic and domestic issues, including national fiscal policy, education and health care. In addition to his columns, he will examine these and other relevant issues on The Times’s Opinionator blog.
Orszag has been in jobs where one can’t fully speak one’s mind for several years now and has managed to make a remarkable quantity of thought-provoking on-the-record statements given those constraints so I’m looking forward to this. In a dream scenario, I’d love to see some back and forth and engagement between him and Paul Krugman about some of Krugman’s critiques of the Obama administration but for whatever reason newspapers seem to discourage their writers from actually engaging with one another’s arguments.