Postcards from the great American labor shortage: A couple arrives at the Seattle airport after a five-hour flight and stands in line at the car rental desk. People are angry. At the desk sits a harassed employee explaining that he simply has no cars of any kind to rent. Nothing. Why? There aren't enough employees on hand to vacuum, wash, fuel and process the cars.
Another snapshot. A couple has been driving for several hours and requires a bathroom stop. They pull into a Burger King. The doors are locked. The only service is at the drive-thru. Why? Lack of employees.
Perhaps you've stayed in a hotel recently? Maid service and room service are scarce. If hotels offer these services at all, they are available only upon request. About 25% of restaurant and hotel employees are immigrants. What could be going on here?
Politico reports that hospitals in 40 states have reported critical staffing shortages — orderlies and janitors, yes, but also nurses, doctors and medical technicians. One in five nurses and one in four health aides are foreign-born. Twenty-eight percent of physicians are immigrants.
That dining room set you've been waiting to have delivered? A shortage of port workers and truck drivers is slowing everything down. More airline delays. Fewer varieties of foods in supermarkets. Shortages of lumber, cars and consumer electronics.
And, as you may have noticed, everything is much more expensive.
The reasons for this are multifactorial. Plunging demand for cars during the pandemic, for example, induced the industry to slow down its production. It takes time to ramp back up. The inflation we're experiencing is partially a result of the government flooding too much cash into people's accounts, compounded by COVID-induced supply chain shocks and the disruptions caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
But the one factor we discuss too little is immigration — or rather, we emphasize the wrong aspect. Republicans are obsessed with the southern border and the dreaded waves of people (or sometimes "caravans") attempting entry. But we've long had people thronging the Mexican border. What we haven't seen in many decades is a serious decline in the number of legal immigrants-a decline that is a big factor in all the things Americans dislike about how things are going right now. If an immigration advocate had wanted to concoct a scenario to demonstrate to Americans just how diminished their lives would be with fewer immigrants, they couldn't have devised a better scheme than the combination of the Trump administration and the pandemic.
Trump began his squeeze on immigrants in 2017 with a ban on immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries and followed up with drastic reductions in the number of green cards issued, the number of refugees admitted (a shameful policy choice) and the number of legal immigrants processed. A Government Accountability Office review found that the Citizenship and Immigration Service increased its processing time for immigration applications sixfold between 2015 and 2020. Trump officials threw sand into the gears. They raised fees for naturalization applications from $620 to $1,160 and added burdensome, niggling requirements. A 2019 rule, for example, forced immigrants to refile forms if they left a space blank, even if the question did not pertain to them. Interviews were stalled, and they starved the relevant agencies of funding.
Where is the outrage that we are turning away highly skilled immigrants who could make the difference in our competition with China? Wouldn't an "America first" policy capitalize on our desirability as a destination for the talented instead of slamming our doors? Wouldn't we be welcoming those who will create the key technologies for the future, like artificial intelligence?
Before Trump, Republicans used to stress that they were all for legal immigration but only opposed the illegal variety, but that's all changed now. In fact, as Alex Nowrasteh at the CATO Institute argues, Trump failed to budge the number of illegal immigrants in the United States but radically diminished the number of legal immigrants. Sen. Tom Cotton and other Republicans are now on the record as favoring less legal immigration. According to some estimates, if the immigration rate had remained unchanged during Trump's term, we would now have nearly 2 million more prime-age workers.
Those workers would be driving trucks, administering IVs at hospitals, cleaning hotel rooms, picking vegetables and designing software. They'd be starting businesses (immigrants are 80% more likely to do this than native-borns), paying taxes and caring for the elderly. And, by the way, they would be helping to bring down the overall price level.
But Trump distorted the Republican party into a xenophobic, blinkered cult that wrongly sees immigrants as a drain instead of a boon.
So the question Republicans must answer today is: How do you like this immigrant-starved America? How do you like the shortages, the inflation and the poor service? Because this is what comes of nativism.
Reprinted with permission from Creators.
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United States Senate candidate and former professional football player Herschel Walker (R-GA) delivered a bizarre and incoherent response to a question about whether he intends to debate incumbent Democratic Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock ahead of the November midterm elections.
"Are you going to debate him?" Fox Business anchor Stuart Varney asked Walker on Friday morning.
"Well I've called him on two debates, I've called him on two debates. He turned me down on both of them because I said what I want to do is see a fair and equitable debate wherefore the people, not about some press, not about some party, but the people get a chance to see the differences between my opponent and myself," Walker replied.
He then fired off a laundry list of specious right-wing talking points.
"My opponent believes in raising taxes during a recession. My opponent believes in being soft on crime. He voted with [President] Joe Biden to elect officials that are soft on crime," Walker continued. "My opponent believes – he voted to put men in women's sports. I do not think men should be in women's sports. So that's a big difference in contrast. I think he's afraid to stand in front of the Georgia voters and stand up for the record that he's voted on."
Watch below or at this link.
Herschel Walker's comments about whether or not he'll debate Sen. Warnock don't make sense pic.twitter.com/zxPNNW4Kra
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) August 5, 2022
Reprinted with permission from Alternet.
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Former Attorney General William Barr weighed in on the newest slate of federal grand jury subpoenas the Justice Department issued for its January 6 probe, suggesting that a “hard look” is being taken at former President Trump and his allies.
Speaking to CBS News on Friday, Barr, once widely considered one of Trump’s most loyal cabinet members, called the subpoenas of high-ranking Trump administration officials a “significant event” indicative of the escalating probe into those responsible for the January 6, 2021 attack on Congress.
“It definitely is a significant event. It changes my view of what’s been going on,” Barr told CBS News' Catherine Herridge. "This suggests to me that they're taking a hard look at the group at the top, including the president and the people immediately around him who were involved in this.”
In recent weeks, the Justice Department has appeared to have moved on from its manhunt for the hundreds of rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol at Trump’s urging, turning its sights instead on the instigators of the riot, as well as others who lent their services to Trump’s failed attempt to cling to power.
The federal grand jury — which has been meeting weekly, per CBS News — in late July deposed former Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, and Pence’s chief counsel, Greg Jacob, in downtown Washington, according to the Washington Post.
The Post also reported that witnesses deposed before the federal grand jury were asked about communications with Trump, his lawyers, allies, and other inner circle members who partook in efforts to swap certified electors in states Biden won with fake electors subservient to Trump.
Last week, the federal grand jury subpoenaed former White House counsel Pat Cipollone and his top deputy, Patrick Philbin — a development Barr said implied that federal prosecutors are “going to try to get a ruling on the issue of executive privilege.”
Barr also said Cipollone’s subpoena was “the most subpoena” of the federal grand jury’s mandatory interview invitation.
Cipollone and Philbin would have been privy to private communications with then-President Trump, but “executive privilege can protect a president’s ability to obtain candid counsel from advisers without fear of immediate public disclosure,” according to Independent.
“He has the strongest claim to executive privilege as the counsel to the Office of the President,” Barr said, speaking of Cipollone. “That’s sort of the biggest mountain for them to climb, and the fact that they lead off with that, to me, suggests that they want a definitive resolution — not only on Cipollone — but you know, this would affect [former White House chief of staff Mark] Meadows and some of the other people, too.”
The former attorney general helped sow needless doubts about the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential elections, but he has since criticized Trump’s actions on January 6.
Barr’s Justice Department investigation investigated Trump’s baseless claims of widespread voter fraud and found that there was no “fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”
In his testimony to the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 insurrection, Barr said Trump became so “detached from reality” after the election was called for Biden that he shunned his closest advisers and embraced a conspiracy theory-pushing legion of attorneys led by his former personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
“There was never an indication of interest in what the actual facts were,” Barr told select committee investigators. “My opinion then and my opinion now is that the election was not stolen by fraud,” he added. “And I haven’t seen anything since the election that changes my mind on that.”
However, Barr told Herridge he doubted there would be a way to prove “beyond reasonable doubt” that Trump engaged in criminal activity.
“After the last set of hearings I said, personally, if this is what there is, as attorney general I still don’t see that as a sufficient basis to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime was committed by the president,” Barr said.