The ''Biden Brand'' is firmly rooted in Joe Biden’s aspirations for bipartisanship. His desire for bipartisanship unquestionably is authentic, rooted in his amiable disposition. Biden is hardwired to seek consensus, rather than ''rule or ruin'' as was his immediate predecessor.
The ''Biden Band,'' not so much. It is hijacking bipartisan themes, like infrastructure, to use as a Trojan horse to smuggle in extravagant pork toward fat progressive agenda items like funding home caregivers, way more than roads and bridges.
Funding caregivers (not incidentally throwing not just a bone but a whole T-bone steak to the SEIU labor union) might be a worthy cause. That said, it’s not infrastructure. End of bipartisanship opportunity.
Mr. President! Please don’t let the Biden Band also walk past the remaining big opportunity for bipartisanship. President Biden, just maybe, can use this opportunity to restore a measure of cooperation that Capitol Hill hasn’t seen since 1986. That’s when the U.S. Senate, including Sen. Joe Biden, voted 97-3 to drop the top income tax rate from 50% to 28% (after having dropped it from 70%, Joe Biden voting aye, a few years earlier). Now, that’s bipartisan!
Wherein lies this evanescent, but real, opportunity? Immigration reform. Biden might use this opening to detoxify the Washington well, intentionally poisoned long ago by Newt Gingrich, and to change the political culture of Washington from Demolition Derby back to spirited policy competition.
But ... immigration reform? Follow along.
There is a secret grandmaster of immigration policy, Charles Kamasaki. He is known mostly to Washington Insiders, like me, and, as a man of true humility not given to histrionics, not known even to all insiders. Especially on the right.
Kamasaki is the author of the definitive book on immigration reform, entitled "Immigration Reform," coming out in eBook and second edition paperback this month. Praise for this book has come from Mort Kondracke (''magisterial''), Janet Murguía (''stirring, brilliant and comprehensive''), and by Cecilia Muñoz (''essential reading''), among many other thought leaders.
Given Washington’s fundamentally tribal nature it is not surprising that nearly all the praise came from center-left sources. That said, Kamasaki is meticulous in presenting matters empirically, not ideologically. Kamasaki was at the center of the last great immigration reform, under Reagan.
He does justice to the concerns of both the right and left. Thus I, a thought leader of the pro-immigrant right, have no hesitation at adding my voice to the chorus of praise. "Immigration Reform" is much bigger than its nominal subject. It is one of the best books that I have ever encountered on how and why Washington best serves (or, at its worst, disserves) America.
Kamasaki, with whom I occasionally have done business over the decades, is the senior cabinet adviser of UnidosUS (previously known as NCLR), the premiere national Latino civil rights organization. The only criticism that I have of him is that he is so practical, humane and smart that he threatens to give the left a good name.
And in a recent email exchange, Kamasaki dropped this Big Reveal on me:
''My book is an argument for a bipartisan approach. Some people see recent history as a refutation of that, but I see the opposite. The failure of the bipartisan commission vote in Senate would seem a refutation of this. But the fact that it attracted 35 House GOP and 6 Senators raises possibilities. Had Dem leadership worked it a bit more — exercised their long-atrophied bipartisan muscles as it were — might they have gotten over the finish line?
"In the case of immigration reform, there are many more moving parts and pieces that could serve as the basis for bipartisan deals — ag workers needed by farmers in rural states; the re-starting of leisure/hospitality venues, many in red states; tech workers, not just in Silicon Valley but new tech hubs in TX (Austin), NC (Research Triangle), and elsewhere; and the increasingly obvious need for stronger enforcement measures at the border, which could bring around some border state Rs — the question is whether Dems are pursuing them and whether they’d be open to compromise?''
Having worked in the Reagan White House and closely with the George W. Bush White House (in rescuing human trafficking victims) and the Trump White House (with the office of Vice President Mike Pence in facilitating the appointment of Dr. Buzz Aldrin to the National Space Council), I know how easy it is for White House staff to get pinned down by the political fray.
The Biden Band is extraordinarily smart and loyal. That said, few are as possessed of the passion for bipartisanship as Biden. Biden, alone, is predisposed and fully equipped to grasp the opportunity to do immigration reform in bipartisan fashion, bending the arc of history toward justice, changing history by transforming the culture of Washington. And thereby achieving greatness.
Ralph Benko, co-author of "The Capitalist Manifesto" and chairman and co-founder of "The Capitalist League," is the founder of The Prosperity Caucus and is an original Kemp-era member of the Supply Side revolution that propelled the Dow from 814 to its current heights and world GDP from $11T to $88T. Read Ralph Benko's reports — More Here.
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