Friday, December 18, 2015

Why the H-2B Provision Is So Problematic

Everyone--well, almost everyone--understands that the power of any majority in Congress is limited.  Even if a majority wants to get something done, it might not be able to accomplish that due to our system of checks and balances.  Thus, one can understand why Republicans might relent on defunding a program that is one of the President Obama's top priorities because defunding that program might lead to a round of budgetary brinkmanship.

But the omnibus's quadrupling of the H-2B visa program is not because of limits on Congressional Republicans' power--it's a policy that they have used their power to realize.  It's not like Barack Obama would have vetoed the omnibus had it not included the H-2B expansion.  Congressional Democrats would not have shut down the omnibus over a lack of H-2Bs.  No, as Conn Carroll, Mike Lee's communications director, put it, the H-2B expansion is a "'Republican' ask."  Republican leadership chose to make expanding the H-2B a priority--when they did not make priorities out of reforms to refugee programs, funding of the border fence, or cracking down on "sanctuary" cities.

From a Republican point of view, expanding the H-2B program makes little political sense. Republicans face a grassroots rebellion, and they also need to do more to reach out to the economic middle.  The H-2B expansion inflames this rebellion, and it further undermines the working class; it also runs contrary to the principles of the free market.  Embracing a pro-opportunity conservatism seems a better route to a majority coalition than being the party of K Street.


  1. The donor class political arrogance will only fade when voters make taking their money, as in massive tax increases, the consequence.

  2. The Republican establishment no longer cares about winning control of the federal government. They just want enough of a presence in Washington to do favors for their donors. I think this conclusion is inescapable in view of the gratuitous H-2B monstrosity, which probably dooms the GOP's hopes to take the White House and keep the Senate next year. Ryan & Co. just don't give a damn. And the so-called "Freedom Caucus" either doesn't care or is too stupid to understand.