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Lawrence Kudlow
Lawrence Kudlow
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What about the Brainiacs?


Is this immigration game really worth the candle? I think not. And I say this as someone who is an immigration reformer, not a restrictionist.

The free movement of trade, capital and labor is strongly pro-growth. History shows that legal immigration is good for America, economic growth, entrepreneurship, job creation and hard-working families. America must remain a city on a hill, attracting the best and brightest from around the world — a beacon of freedom.

The trouble is, Obama's executive actions not only usurp powers that are not his, they don't really solve key immigration problems.

Mainly, not even Obama is attempting to increase visas (that are the purview of Congress). Therefore there's no clear legal immigration process for the most important group: the high-tech brainiacs who are likely to be the entrepreneurial engines of new business start-ups and overall job-creating growth.

Tight limits on high-skilled worker visas and the whole whacky system of green-card, permanent-resident status are not being fixed. This can only happen through legislative change. In other words, Congress has to act (in this and a dozen other places).

So the Silicon Valley crowd is not cheering Obama's executive actions.

For example, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, a trade organization representing nearly 400 tech companies, says the brainiac H-1B visas that are capped at 65,000 a year should at least be doubled. They also want some kind of legal status for science and math students. While Obama's action may let these students finish their studies without deportation, it's vague whether they can stay after that.

As Michael Barone has noted, it's the high-tech brainiacs that we want to invite and protect. They are more important than the low-wage groups. Even big-business advocates, like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers and the Business Roundtable, are underwhelmed by Obama's actions. Chamber president Tom Donohue told, "Meaningful and lasting immigration reform can only be achieved through the enactment of bipartisan legislation."

So here's Obama breaking all kinds of constitutional rules and losing important support.

Another problem is that Obama's plan is not going to have much economic impact. His Council of Economic Advisers is predicting a GDP increase of 0.4 percent after 10 years, a 0.3 percent increase in average wages and a reduction in the federal budget deficit of $25 billion.

Virtually no change.

In their report, the council also says the economy will do slightly better because of increased innovation from high-skilled workers. But as noted, we're not going to get any more high-skilled workers because the president has no authority to issue them visas.

Then there's the likelihood that the president's executive actions have "poisoned the well." If so, a bunch of economic growth measures will never go through. To my lights, the most important is business tax reform. A new Republican Congress is already very close to a compromise position that would lower tax rates for both C-corps and pass-through S-corps and LLC's. Repatriation of U.S. cash abroad is in that mix. Even President Obama has talked about a corporate-tax-reform compromise.

But with all the bad blood on immigration, the chances for a job-creating bill like this are very low. Perhaps the GOP will pass a good corporate tax cut, put it on the president's desk and let him veto it, knowing they'll have a good 2016 campaign issue. But the U.S. economy could use that supply-side stimulus today, rather than in several more years.

The same is true for trade promotion. Free-trade bills are like tax cuts — everyone benefits. It's a global world, even for small businesses that would benefit from lower tariffs with Europe and Asia. And consumers would be the huge beneficiaries of lower-cost purchases. But this, too, will probably be stymied by the battle over immigration.

There are things in Obama's plan that look OK, such as the legalization of illegal parents who have been in the country for over five years, expanded eligibility for work permits and increased eligibility for the so-called Dreamers who were brought into the country illegally. Another positive is the denial of access to Obamacare, food stamps and other federal benefits. And there is no pathway to citizenship.

I don't know if I can trust the president on border security. Nor do I know if Republicans can or will put together an alternative immigration plan. All that's up in the air. But what I think I know is that the failure to solve the brainiac visa problem is a huge mistake.

Of course, all this could have been fixed. If the president had come to the GOP leadership and said, "Give me something in a couple of months," the whole immigration problem could be solved. But he didn't.

So now even I'm saying it looks like this game is not worth the candle.

To find out more about Lawrence Kudlow and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at



1 Comments | Post Comment
Sir;... I can get your drift: America doesn't sell products to the world anymore; but they still sell America as an ideal long after the ideal of America is dead.
I engage with people. I talk with strangers exactly as my mother warned me not to do. I learned it from a man born so close to Mexico that everyone called him a Wetback, but it was the best thing in the world to learn.
People come to this land all full of hopes and dreams, and if they do not return ruined, they stay here and suffer eventual ruin. Those who succeed do so by keeping as much of their culture as possible. Father is boss, and wife and children and all cooperate and work together. No labor laws, no rules about children handling liquer, no minimum wage, no family democracy. Just ambition rewarded with hard work and more of the same. And that is the key to their success, playing by their own rules, and not playing at all.

For many such people I have talked to who do succeed, America is oversold and under delivered. We are that beacon to many, but in reality we are like a glitter ball all shiney on the outside and hollow within. Our roads and infrastructure are shot, the people are mean, angry, resentful, and sullen. Many are percieved as lazy, and others as stupid. Animals caught in traps can chew off a leg. We are caught by our ideals, and where our ideals are, we have no teeth. The great mass of Americans cannot break free of their trap unless they are willing to forget their morals and become what they are considered to be: Animals.

We have to remember what the rich want us to forget, that this country came into being by revolution, and was sustained by a second revolution of the American Civil War. And Revolution is the greatest crime, the greatest illegality, virtually, the breaking of all the laws at once in order to know freedom. Living in this country even for the immigrant is one long experience of demoralization. If the process were sudden, people would be shocked into a defense of themselves, and of their moral being. Instead as povery and denegration make people numb to their own pain they grow numb to everyones pain, and become as beasts, long suffering and ignorant.

It isn't just America that is going to hell, but all of the people in it. And that is why the heartlanders so cling to their religion. They do not want to be sucked in and spat out by the moral meatgrinder of industrial and post industrial America. The religious right do not want to become moral zombies one step ahead of death or hell. They are wrong to look at the poor as deserving their pain for their immorality. It was the morality of the poor that held them peaceful while their dreams and hopes were cashed in by others, and then denied to them. And this is the hell so many of our immigrants live on, and only with their native morality can they avoid it, and avoid being sucked into that morass which takes so many in the progress of generations.

People forget their culture, forget the knowledge that is culture, and are taken down bit by bit to the level of those they live upon. Welcome to America. Leave you morals at the door, or lose them in the process of seizing the American Dream.
Comment: #1
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Sat Nov 22, 2014 8:38 AM
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