By John Feehery
It’s good that the President and the First Family traveled to Ireland, and all of these news reports that make a federal case out of the cost are missing the point.
It is safe to say that Mr. Obama would have never made it to the White House if it weren’t for two prominent Irish Americans.
Ted Kennedy gave the Illinois Senator the critical boost he needed when he endorsed him for President. And Richie Daley, the iconic Mayor of Chicago, gave the former community organizer the backing of his machine and its critical resources to help first get to the Senate and then make the leap to bigger things.
The President hired the Mayor’s brother to be his second chief of staff, but Bill Daley didn’t last very long in the role. He didn’t understand at first that the real power behind the throne was Valerie Jarrett, and once he figured that out, he decided to go back to Chicago.
Mr. Obama is no dummy. He decided to make drinking a key component of the campaign to beat Mitt Romney, and he used the famous Irish Pub, The Dubliner to drive that point home by having a pint or two on St. Patrick’s Day.
Romney once famously said that he sipped a beer once, but didn’t like the taste. Somebody should have advised him that the more you drink, the better it tastes, but apparently, nobody drinks in his inner circle, which tells you a lot about his campaign.
Mr. Obama first visited Ireland as President in 2011. The President’s people shot more than few pictures of him gulping a Guinness. In case you have never been in Ireland, they have an ad campaign with the tag line: “Guinness Is Good For You.” Unlike Obamacare.
The Irish have been through a lot over the last four years. They got sucked into the over-exuberance of the global economy and ended owing a bunch of German bankers a bunch of money when it became clear that their housing sector was collapsing. They didn’t have to bail out their banks and pay back the Deutsch bank. They could have stiffed them and refused to back the AIB and the Bank of Ireland. But they practiced responsible finance and they absorbed huge debts and for the last half decade, they have had a government austerity program that would make the Ryan budget look like the welfare state.
What they didn’t do is raise corporate tax rates, and as a result, global businesses have continued to flock to the Erin Isle. The green of Ireland often means billions more in corporate profits for companies such as Apple, and that encourage those companies to keep investing there.
As a result, Ireland in bouncing back faster than other European countries that have had a terrible time dealing with the Fiscal Panic of 2009. They are in a stronger fiscal position and they are still the best place in Europe to do business, especially if you are an American company.
It’s also probably a good place to buy some real estate, if you are in the market for that kind of thing.
The Irish used to be pre-occupied with the “Troubles”, the enduring conflict between Protestants and Catholics. Keeping the peace, of course, is still a concern, and the more difficult the economic troubles become, the more religious hostilities will continue to rise. But so far (knock on wood), the peace still holds between the two communities, and with more American investment, that peace had more than a fighting chance to stay in place.
Outside of the economy, the Irish also have a stake in immigration reform. It is not surprise that Paul Ryan (who was honored by the American Ireland Fund in Washington DC two years ago), is working hard to pass a comprehensive bill. If you are of Irish descent and you don’t support immigration reform, you are a hypocrite, pure and simple. Irish Americans should have no business pulling up the ladder behind them. America has given a life-line to millions of Irishman and women over the years. To then say that nobody else deserves a chance to gain the American dream would be terrible.
For the Irish in Ireland, they too have a small if pedestrian concern that impacts their immigrants. There are thousand of undocumented Irish who have been hanging out in Irish pubs in America for decades and they haven’t had an opportunity to get citizenship. They ought to get that chance. At least, that’s the view of the Irish government.
I imagine Enda Kenney will bring that up with the President, if they get a chance to talk over a pint of porter. Let’s hope they do.
President Obama has some Irish blood in him. I guess that’s where he gets the gift of gab. He also has some reason to thank Irish America for getting him to the White House.
By John Feehery
I think Rand Paul has it about right.
We need to be awfully careful that in our quest to “secure the border,” we don’t create an autocratic security state that monitors who gets hired, who gets fired, who does this and who does that, with biometric scans and e-verify checks, and forms, and who know what else.
Sure, I want America to get notional control over its border. And I suppose building a fence in certain areas makes plenty of sense.
But we don’t live in East Germany, nor should we want to. We don’t need fences with guard dogs and Gestapo agents. We aren’t at war with Mexico. They are one of our biggest trading partners.
We also aren’t at war with our small business community. We shouldn’t put more regulations on them or punish them if they hire the wrong person.
We don’t need to create a 100-mile Constitution-free zone, where people are stopped based purely on their looks. Come on Washington. Get a hold of your senses.
This is America, not Soviet Russia.
I read a post somewhere where Michael Brown, the former FEMA chief said something provocative. He said that most people break some law just about every day, whether it is breaking the speed limit or giving an under-aged family member a beer or cheating ever so slightly on their taxes.
Sure, people want the law enforced. They just don’t want every law enforced, especially ones that they are currently breaking.
We need to keep that in mind when we pass new laws. We need to keep in mind the mother who hires a nice older woman to take care of her kids during the day or a middle aged guy who hires somebody strong to take care of his elderly father or the bar owner who hires a Mexican guy to help behind the bar.
Fining these folks up to $25,000 because they don’t use the e-verify system is completely ridiculous.
There are several interesting layers to this whole immigration debate.
Some people say that they want to kick illegal immigrants out of the country, but they should know instinctively that if we did that, our economy would collapse now and into the future.
The census revealed something anti-immigrant activists ought to note. America’s population isn’t growing very much. In fact, white Americans are barely reproducing at a sustainable rate. In fact, this was the first year in history that more white Americans died than were born.
Most of the growth in this country is coming from Asians, and mostly by immigration. Black Americans have a slightly higher population growth rate than white Americans and the Hispanic growth rate is actually not as rapid as some might think.
The economic reality is that we need immigrants to keep the economy growing, because we need more productive workers in all fields, whether it is high tech or low back-breaking labor.
Mexicans aren’t coming here in the big numbers that they came during the Bush years, because their economy is improving and our economy remains kind of crappy.
And another little unreported fact is that Obama has been unusually aggressive in deporting people who are here illegally and he has thrown a bunch of resources into securing the border.
That’s why two Arizona Republican Senators can afford to support a bill billed as amnesty by the right wing nutjobs.
The business community wants immigration reform, writ large. Big labor, truth be told, doesn’t really want to legalize all of those immigrants, because they most likely won’t join the unions because they don’t mind working for less money than their union brothers.
But labor has played this pretty smart. If this thing dies, it won’t be because of them. It will because of Ted Cruz and the hard right of the Republican Party.
The hard right has some explaining to do.
Why exactly don’t they want to fix a broken immigration system?
Do they not want reform because they don’t like Hispanics? Do they not want reform because they want to continue to exploit modern day “slave” labor? Do they not want reform because they fear people who aren’t exactly like them? Do they not want reform because they are basically racist or because they think that giving Hispanics voting rights will make it harder for them to get elected in the future?
They say it doesn’t do enough to secure the border and doesn’t do enough to snoop in on the business community to stop them from hiring illegals. But if they really wanted the government to have such a huge presence in the lives of ordinary Americans, they would be Democrats.
They say that if we give amnesty to these illegals, it will continue a precedent begun by that great traitor to Republican principles, Ronald Reagan himself.
But the precedent of illegal aliens who come to America to create a better life for themselves and their families started long ago, when the Mayflower docked at Plymouth Rock. You really think the Native Americans (or Indians, as we used to call them when I was in grade school), were happy to see the pale faces start chopping down their trees and eating their turkeys?
My guess is not so much. And so it has always been.
Waves of immigrants crash upon our shores and then eventually assimilate, one way or another. And those waves of immigrants, despite the advertisement on the Statue of Liberty, have always caused bitter resentment.
But without them, our country would suck.
One conservative argument that does work for me has to do with welfare payments.
If you are here illegally you don’t get welfare from the government. It really should be that simple. Get help from the Catholic Church or the Baptists, but don’t flock to America and expect to get a subsidy from the government.
To sum up, we don’t need create a bigger security apparatus to “secure the border beyond all recognition.” We don’t need to hound small businesses to death. We don’t need to give illegal aliens welfare benefits either.
But we do need to give them a pathway to citizenship, no matter how they got here. That’s the carrot. That’s the ticket to prosperity. That’s why many of them come here. And that’s how we move them up the economic ladder and make them middle class citizens who will help America stay on top of the rest of the heap.
Rand Paul was right when he said that we will find a place for the 12 million folks who here now with either no documents or expired documents. We already have. They live among us and contribute every day to the lifeblood of this country.
They are already an essential part of America, whether we like it or not.