Depending on which poll or talking head you trust, the November 2010 Republican election landslide was based on the following: lack of jobs (driven by layoffs and illegal hiring), diminished support for Obamacare (driven by a majority of U.S. citizens against socialized medicine), fiscal chaos (driven by unrestrained federal spending), weakened economy (driven by fear of further downturns), and/or disgust with the elitist attitude of Barack Obama (driven by presidential disdain for small towns and small businesses).
Voters sense that their “smart” president has ignored their financial predicaments while seeking to improve that of immigrants (legal and otherwise).
While 1 in 10 U.S. citizens remains unemployed, an estimated 11 million to 18 million illegal aliens hold jobs in the United States. The estimated unemployment rate for black males is 17.6 percent and for black males 16-20 years of age, it is 45 percent. Unemployment for persons with less than a high school diploma is 15.6 percent and 10.5 for those with a high school diploma.
On March 18, 2010, in the White House Rose Garden, the new president signed a jobs bill known as the HIRE Act (Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act).
The $17.7 billion HIRE Act was separate from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), better known as the Stimulus Act. The HIRE Act promised to alleviate problems created by a 9.7 percent national unemployment rate by offering tax credits to businesses that hire a person unemployed for 60 or more days and that retain that worker for at least 52 weeks.
Such employers would not be required to pay the 6.2 percent Social Security payroll deduction and could write-off investments for equipment purchases in 2010. HIRE tax credits, however, are set to end on Dec. 31, 2010.
In addition to private businesses, HIRE funding was extended to local governments for infrastructure and transportation projects (bridges and roads) and to “encourage job creation by expanding investments in schools and clean energy projects.” Conspicuous by its absence was a requirement to verify a new employee’s citizenship or work authorization.
This is in line with the Stimulus Act, which may have provided illegal aliens with 300,000 construction jobs, while failing to include any provision to ensure that workers were U.S. citizens or legal immigrants authorized to work.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury has issued glowing reports on the number of persons employed with HIRE funds, claiming upwards of 6.9 million workers. Non-governmental organizations estimate the number of workers funded by the HIRE Act to be substantially less, at about 1 million.
How many of these were illegal aliens, whose impact on the workforce cannot be overlooked? The cost of the illegal-alien workforce in the United States begins with salaries lost by U.S. citizens thus unemployed. Add to these, their unemployment benefits and the loss of payments to Social Security, Medicare, and the Internal Revenue Service.
This year may be the first in which Social Security pay-outs exceed worker contributions. The argument offered by immigration advocates that illegal aliens pay their fair share of social and income tax payments does not fly.
According to Massachusetts Democratic state Rep. Will Brownsberger, illegal immigrants have a higher rate of welfare use than do legal immigrants or U.S. citizens. In New York City, an estimated 80 percent of new job hires are illegal aliens.
A 2010 report by the U.S. Civil Rights Commission states that illegal immigration tends to depress both wages and employment for low-skilled U.S. citizens and that among them, black men are disproportionately impacted.
In the present economic hard times, illegal aliens are filling many jobs in the low-skilled, service-oriented fields, and farm areas. Many illegal aliens are paid in cash, and as they say in the business world, represent an “off-the-books” cost.
Even though President Obama in his 2009 State of the Union address declared, “jobs must be our No. 1 focus for 2010,” health insurance reform consumed the energies of the president and Congress.
Republicans will not soon forget the president’s remark to a Hispanic audience, urging them to vote to “punish our enemies” and his back-of-the-car remark about the GOP.
With the mid-term elections over, immigration reform chatter is down. In his press conference on Nov. 3, 2010, Obama continued to parse his promises on immigration and jobs. Hispanic voters are not likely to be mollified.
Meanwhile the HIRE Act is shaping up as a sop to quiet the unemployed. The question then becomes, If the HIRE funding has not created jobs, jobs, jobs, where has the taxpayer-funded $17.7 billion gone?
The answer could be forthcoming, as the incoming Republican-dominated U.S. House of Representatives will be armed with the subpoena power.
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