By Herman Cain
President Bush's latest attempt to salvage the Immigration Bill has made it crystal clear that there is indeed a political class of those we elect, who blatantly ignore the wishes of the electorate. Despite the overwhelming outcry against the bill in its present form, the president and many members of Congress seem determined to pass a collection of glued-together agendas, which are far from being a comprehensive solution.
The Senate responded to the outcry by voting to not end debate, which prompted Senator Harry Reid, the Majority Leader, to pull the bill from the floor for the time being. That time being until the president can twist enough Republican arms to change their positions to vote with the Democrats. The president's attempt to do so in spite of the public feedback has alienated and disappointed many people who have supported him through thick and thin, especially the thick disagreements about the war in Iraq.
When the president and Congress seem to defy the public's outcry, people are doubly frustrated and feel that it's the political class against the working class, namely, those of us who work to pay taxes, which fund government, out-of-control spending and ill-constructed public policy.
The more we say no amnesty, the more they say it is not amnesty. The more we say border security first, the more they say we are working on it. The more we say no shortcut to citizenship, the more they say the Z-visa is not a short-cut. And the more we object to this version of the bill, the more they say we have to do something even if it is not perfect.
There is a big difference between not perfect and not acceptable.
It is not acceptable to not enforce current laws. It is not acceptable to not properly secure the borders first. It is not acceptable to catch and release illegal criminals because local, state and federal authorities are not working together. It is not acceptable, with the technology available today, to not have a temporary worker identification system that employers can rely on against fraud.
It is not acceptable to allow millions and millions of illegal immigrants to add additional strain to our already strained health care and Social Security systems. And it is not acceptable to pass a bill that will be an incentive for others to sneak into this country and wait for the next amnesty bill that's not amnesty.
Our only practical response against the continuing abuse by the political class on the working class is to vote them out of office. But that takes time and we must be patient and persistent. The good news is that, within the political class, there are more partisan disagreements than agreements on other issues. This causes potential legislation to move very slowly through the process, while we try to elect candidates who will not disregard us once they are elected.
In the mean time, the working class has to continue to scream loud and long to at least mitigate some of the negative and unintended consequences of ill-constructed legislation. The public wants an immigration bill, but not one that appears to make a bad situation worse.
Maybe we did not scream loud enough in 2003 about the Prescription Drug Bill, which is now going to cost us over three times the original 10-year cost estimate of $300 billion. And even though the costs of Social Security and Medicare are growing exponentially, reducing benefits and raising taxes on the working class are the only band-aids that seem to gain traction in Congress.
Maybe we are currently not screaming loud enough about completely repealing the Alternative Minimum Tax. When it was passed in 1969 it was intended to punish less than 200 of the very rich for finding all the loopholes in the tax code. Today, unless Congress does something, over 20 million working-class families will have to pay additional taxes just for following the rules.
There is a long list of laws, regulations and programs that could have been better constructed. History has shown that Congress is very slow to correct mistakes and laws that have produced serious unintended consequences.
The working class obviously sees some serious imperfections in the proposed Immigration Bill that the political class chooses to ignore.
And once again, those imperfections would be at our expense.