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Good Enough For Government

In Good Enough For Government, Matt on October 1, 2010 by Two Barbers Tagged: , , , , , , , , ,

“The Crooked Path”

With all the movement in D.C., Capitol Hill, and passing out through its larger conduits through the rest of the country, this week’s GOOD ENOUGH… emerged from a quick, initial sweep of featured videos, so it does not necessarily represent the most pertinent and transcending governmental action this week, unless if by accident, or by the grace of the producers of CSPAN.

For example, the Senate approved 16 bills (4 of them just resolutions) on Monday (source), all of them by unanimous consent. How many people in the country are even tracking these and how many do they affect?

For the most part, they seem really insignificant, such as the resolution to recognize the 20th anniversary of the designation of September 1991 as National Rice Month (which is the silliest sounding one) and a bill to designate a mountain and ice field in Alaska “Mount Stevens” and “Ted Stevens Icefield” after the Alaska Senator Ted Stevens who died in a plane crash in early August (Murkowski’s pre-election appeal to a constituency who voted late-Stevens out in the 2008 election two weeks after he was found guilty in federal court of failing to report substantial gifts and services), or narrowly functional, like a bill amending the Immigration and Nationality Act to require that non-immigrant foreign non-English speaking students enrolling in an English language course must enroll in one accredited by an agency recognized by the Department of Education (a stroke of genius from Sen. Carper). But there is also an Intelligence Authorization Bill in there, as well as one sponsored by Sen. Kerry to implement defense trade treaties, the Naval Vessel Transfer Act and the Reducing Over-Classification Act which is intended to restrict the hair-trigger designation of Homeland Security information as classified in order to promote easier info-swap between agencies, adding a Boolean, nervous system-like layer of sophistication. And, not to mention ones that are border-line significant to civilian wherewithal, such as the Plain Writing Act, which will require heads of all executive agencies to hire more staff and provide more training for existing staff to write  public government documents in (this is the vague part) “plain” language, or the Interstate Recognition of Notarizations Act (from 2009) that will make all state notarizations affecting interstate commerce admissible in any federal or state court, not just in the state where the notary was licensed.

Furthermore, on the Daily KOS, you can scroll through a list of 69 hearings that occurred only over the three-day period of Tuesday-Thursday.

The one I refered to above, that I watched (much of it, anyway), lasted 2 hours and 1 minute, was on the “Role of Immigration in Strengthening America’s Economy” held by the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law, the same House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law that held the hearing last week on the plight of immigrant workers at which Stephen Colbert testified (that got a lot of attention). This week they stayed with the ‘big name, big personality’ theme with Mayor Michael Bloomberg and FOX News parent company, News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch (and resident NY émigré from Australian), both testifying on the benefit of immigrant entrepreneurship and labor, much to Rep. Steve King’s chagrin, who subtly expressed his agitation at the whole direction of the Subcommittee on Immigration et al by pointing out, in a tempered but blunt manner, the implications in the title of the hearing and his short laundry list of objection counter-points to such implications and the lack of definition between legal and illegal immigrants in the (I guess preliminary information and discussion to the) proceedings. Maxine Waters tried to, but failed, to take Murdoch to task on the possible hypocrisy of his appearance and testimony at the leanings and  hearing and the leanings and catch phrases of News Corps.’s media companies, notably FOX and the NY Post, that he deflected with his infuriating Murdoch-ian demeanor, which, if you’ve never witnessed it, is a combination of stonewalling and hammering out any traces of conjecture in the other person’s comments. The panel included one academic (as was pointed out by King), Steven Camarota, Research Director of the Center for Immigration Studies, who submitted spoken testimony to evidence of harm amnesty would cause to existing “low-skill” immigrants (a term which it wasn’t clear whether or not the users, generally King and Camerota, meant as a fully PC moniker or a compromise between sensitivity and their view of objectivity on the status of the described people).  Bloomberg and Murdoch, undoubtedly throwing around their private sector weight, argued that the majority of immigrant labor was entrepreneurial and stimulated economic growth and that otherwise law-abiding citizens should not be swept under the rug in on-coming immigration legislation, which I guess is the DREAM Act, which is reported to make naturalization an easier process, as well as military recruitment.

For someone paying attention to just this hearing, and the hearings connected to it, as well as the background attention to immigration in the mainstream media, it would seem that immigration reform is coming on hard. But we’ll have to see. The House voted to adjourn, in a sports event level of drama vote, 210-209, that Nancy Pelosi had to weigh in on as the tie-breaker, over which John Boehner really threw a fit. So, if it is addressed this year, it will be after the election in November, in that “lame-duck” session we’re hearing so much about, but just means the last session for the congress members who have been voted out. The vote on the extension of two groups of tax cuts, one for people who make over $250,000 and another for those who, I’m guessing, make less will have to wait until said lame duck session. This week, though, Congress did pass the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which will appropriate $7.4 billion in Medicaid to 9/11 first responders, which had a strong political swell from here on Long Island.

Also, Obama travelled throughout the country, giving public meetings in Iowa, Virginia, New Mexico, and Wisconsin after signing the Small Business Jobs and Credit Act, which is supposed to set $30 billion to the Small Business Administration to increase loans from $2 million to $5 million to businesses and $4 million to $5.5 for loans going to the manufacturing sector. On Friday, he was back in Washington, officially announcing the resignation of his Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, who is stepping down to run for Mayorship of Chicago, and his replacement by Pete Rouse, who has been an advisor and aid to the president since 2004.

Secretaries Clinton and Geithner made some announcement on Iran that I assume is important, but didn’t get a chance to look at. And so went my crooked, looping path through the U.S. government this week.

-Matt

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