Remember when House Majority Leader Mickey Hammon said that mandatory E-verify, “the right to work list,” was the “cornerstone” of  HB56, the Alabama Anti-Immigration Bill?

Well, that “cornerstone” turns out to be anathema to freedom, according to Tea Party activists.

In an open letter to all members of Congress today, a plethora of conservative orgnaizations and Tea Party groups detailed their fundamental and principled opposition to a mandatory E-verify system. The signatories to the open letter include:

  • Take Back Washington
  • Liberty Coalition
  • Downsize DC
  • American Freedom Agenda
  • Competitive Enterprise Institute
  • Republican Liberty Caucus
  • Tea Party Nation
  • Washington D.C. Tea Party
  • November Patriots
  • Taxpayers Protection Alliance
  • Constitutional Alliance
  • Kitchen Table Patriots
  • Conservative Rebublican Women

(I apologize, but I could not help but copy the entire text of the letter.)

Dear Member of Congress:

We, the undersigned national and state pro-freedom, limited government, and Constitutional government organizations, representing millions of Americans, encourage you to vote against the proposed “E-Verify” system established by H.R. 2885, the “Legal Workforce Act” that mandates the use of an electronic employment verification system by every employer in the U.S. for every person seeking employment in the U.S.

We are alarmed that E-Verify poses a threat to both the Constitution and every law-abiding citizen of this country because it:

 1. Creates a de facto national I.D. System – even for citizens;

2. Violates individual civil liberties such as the right to work and free speech;

3. Mandates a costly job-killing regulatory burden that cripples small business

4. Requires employers to become enforcement agents of the federal government;

5. Encourages identify theft of law-abiding citizens;
National ID System

This onerous Act would require each American to ask permission from the Federal Government when hiring or being hired.  The Act empowers the Department of Homeland Security to compile and monitor the personal information of every person seeking employment, and to surreptitiously transfer it to yet unspecified entities.

The result is a de facto National Identification System, and the enabling language that mandates the intrusive collection of personal data could grow to include biometrics such as fingerprints, DNA and/or iris scan.  This invasion becomes tantamount an unconstitutional, warrantless search.

Violation of Civil Liberties

The dangerous and intrusive precedent set by the bill opens the floodgate of additional incursive and contentious employment verification hurdles.  Mission creep is the signature of all bureaucracies.  After enactment of the Legal Workforce Act, employers could soon be required to verify whether employees are delinquent in the payment of federal, state, or local taxes, in compliance with child support or alimony decrees, on a terrorist watch list, or convicted or even accused of crime.

We are born with an unalienable right to acquire property through our own labor. Private property is a bulwark against government oppression.  Requiring citizens to secure permission from the Department of Homeland Security to enjoy the fruits of their labor is an unacceptable violation of our civil liberties.

Errors in the verification process will be practically immune from timely legal redress and violate another constitutional tenet. Citizens have already lost their jobs after DHS deemed them not “work-authorized.” The CBO reports that in 2009 about 80,000 workers likely received erroneous findings from the system and may have lost their jobs.

Fearing this retaliation, free speech will chill and citizens will be loath to criticize government.

Devastating Impact on Employers & Economy

This Act is falsely portrayed as containing safe harbor provisions for employers, yet there are no protections for them against criminal prosecution if they do indeed employ an individual later proven to be in the U.S. illegally or who has successfully assumed a fake or stolen identity.  While acting as de facto law enforcement officers for the federal government, employers will need armies of expensive attorneys to safeguard against criminal prosecutions at a cost that small business can ill-afford even in a good economy.

The loss of jobs will be staggering as employers substitute machinery for employees or outsource employment to avoid the vexations and costs of compliance, as will the loss of tax revenues as jobs go underground.  Here are some of the economic statistics according to the CBO and Bloomberg:

-Mandatory E-Verify mandatory would increase the number of employers and workers who resort to the black market, outside of the tax system. This would decrease federal revenue by more than $17.3 billion over ten years. (CBO)

-The cost to employers to fully implement E-Verify will be more than $6.1 billion for all businesses.  (CBO)

-Mandatory E-Verify will cost small businesses at least $2.6 billion  in the first year. (Bloomberg)

-One small Maryland business estimates their cost for one year will be $27,000 and decimate their ability to hire new workers. (U.S. Chamber v. Chertoff No. 08-CV-3444-AW)

Encourages Identity Theft

E-Verify will create an unprecedented black market demand for fake identities coveted by those seeking employment, particularly for short-term jobs where illegal workers will be long-gone before there is any chance of detection. Law-abiding citizens will become prime targets for skyrocketing identity theft, and we can only speculate as to the anticipated nightmare this “hit-and-run” use of their identities will create in the long range for the true owners to be able to work again.

Conclusion

E-verify, in short, is a national identification and surveillance system run by the DHS. It will lead to even more bureaucracy, bigger government, greater surveillance, and less freedom.

H.R. 2164 should never leave committee.  It is anathema to limited government, the right to privacy, free enterprise and prosperity. It violates the philosophy of the Constitution and intent of the Framers by subordinating the liberty of citizens to the administrative convenience of government.  And the Founding Fathers would have rebelled against such a staggering Federal intrusion into every workplace in the nation and our personal civil liberties.

Mickey Hammon and Scott Beason will now need to include the Tea Party in their definition of “liberals.”

It looks like Perry will be hearing a lot more about his Gardasil issue after last night’s debate and his poor response. As reported by Huffington Post,

Perry responded ably to criticisms of his record on Social Security, which had beset him over the last week. But as he dealt with the controversy over calling the program a “Ponzi scheme,” three more issues opened up, damaging him in the eyes of conservatives.

Most significantly, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) went hard after Perry for his 2007 attempt to mandate vaccinations of sixth-grade girls against the human papillomavirus, the most common sexually transmitted disease and a lead cause of cervical cancer. This issue had been raised in last week’s debate. But unlike then, Bachmann pointed out that Perry’s former chief of staff in the governor’s office had been part of the lobbying effort for drug manufacturer Merck, which stood to benefit by administering the vaccine.

That led to a low point for Perry, when he defended himself this way: “The company was Merck, and it was a $5,000 contribution that I had received from them. I raise about $30 million, and if you’re saying that I can be bought for $5,000, I’m offended.”

Bachmann shot back: “Well I’m offended for all the little girls and the parents that didn’t have a choice.”

Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) then piled on with righteous indignation, accusing Perry of overseeing “big government run amok.”

. . . To make matters worse for Perry, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin added her voice in support of Bachmann’s to criticize Perry after the debate was over. “That’s crony capitalism,” she said of Perry’s mandate in an appearance on Fox News. “That’s part of the problem that we have in this country is that people are afraid, even in our own party, to call one another out on that. True reform and fighting the corruption and fighting the crony capitalism is a tough thing to do within your own party.”

The reporter believes this episode is “lasting damage” for Perry:

But the HPV issue may be the one that harms Perry the most. Unlike the Social Security issue, where Perry’s iconoclastic comments had endeared him to many portions of the conservative base, the HPV topic will hurt him with the grassroots, especially as it becomes a bigger focus of the campaign in the coming days. What is worse for Perry: the issue alienates both small government conservatives and Republicans who are more conscious of social issues.

As I stated in August, I thought Bachmann would bludgeon hammer Perry with this issue; she may have waited too long to salvage her candidacy. Her performance last night has earned her a new round of television interviews. In a broadcast this morning

Bachmann says in a broadcast interview she will keep hammering away at the Texas governor over an executive order he signed making vaccinations against potentially cancer-causing infections mandatory for young girls. The state legislature overturned Perry’s decision.

I doubt this is fatal but it continues to bolster Mitt Romney’s chances as Tea Partiers and Evangelicals become less enthralled and enthusiastic about Perry’s candidacy.

In my opinion, the issue which harmed him the most was his defense of providing in-state tuition to illegal immigrants.  Perry was not booed for his position on Gardasil; he was when defending his support for “incentives” for illegal immigration.  I have always thought the immigration baggage was more toxic, more visceral, and ideological than Gardasil.  (See here and here)

Winner: Romney.

UPDATE: Closed-border website V-Dare reports that Perry may have stepped on the “immigration land-mine”:

A friend just called to report that Bill Bennett’s Morning in America radio show had a torrent of calls denouncing Rick Perry’s performance on immigration in last night’s debate. Callers said they had not realized how liberal Perry is on the subject, and were particularly irritated that he alone would not support building an effective border fence. Only two callers defended Perry.

One man apparently warned that the MSM was trying “trying to foist Perry on us, just like they did McCain”. He pointed to favorable camera treatment of Perry, while the other speakers generally got portrayed in split screens.

In a stinging indictment of both political parties, Jeffrey Sachs, Columbia economics professor, called for the rise of a third party because of the failure of the Democratic and Republican parties. While I agree with most of his criticisms, I differ on his conclusion; we do not need a third party, we just need the Democratic Party to be true to its historic role. As I argued here,

In recent decades, however,  instead of working out this  mission for modern times,  the Alabama Democratic Party rested on past accomplishments and entrenched power-sharing arrangements. It surrendered the intellectual and moral high ground and thereby failed to inspire this generation to claim the banner of the Democratic Party.

Sachs hones in on the Republican Party first:

Consider the Republican Party’s double-mantra that the deficit results from “runaway spending” and that more tax cuts are the key to economic growth. Republicans claim that the budget deficit, around 10 percent of GDP, has been caused only by a rise in outlays. This is blatantly untrue. The deficit results roughly equally from a fall of tax revenues as a share of GDP and a rise of spending as a share of GDP.

Spending, for example, is higher in part because of unemployment compensation, food stamps, and other federal spending to help the downtrodden in a weak economy. That’s the “cyclical” component. Part of the higher spending reflects long-term patterns, such as rising health care costs and an aging population, as well as America’s chronic addiction to wrongheaded wars and military occupations in Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia.

Taxation is lower also because of short-term factors and long-term factors. The short-term factors involve reduced federal revenues in an economy with high unemployment. The long-term factors involve repeated tax cuts for companies and high-income individuals that have systematically eroded the tax base, giving unjust and unaffordable benefits for America’s millionaires, billionaires, and multinational corporations.

The Republicans also misrepresent the costs and benefits of closing the deficit through higher taxes on the rich. Americans wants the rich to pay more, and for good reason. Super-rich Americans have walked away with the prize in America. Our country is run by millionaires and billionaires, and for millionaires and billionaires, the rest of the country be damned. Yet the Republicans and their propaganda mouthpieces like Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, claim with sheer audacity that taxing the rich would kill economic growth. This trickle-down, voodoo, supply-side economics is the fig leaf of uncontrolled greed among the right-wing rich.

He next goes after the Democrats for their malfeasence:

The Democrats of the White House and much of Congress have been less crude, but no less insidious, in their duplicity. Obama’s campaign promise to “change Washington” looks like pure bait and switch. There has been no change, but rather more of the same: the Wall-Street-owned Democratic Party as we have come to know it. The idea that the Republicans are for the billionaires and the Democrats are for the common man is quaint but outdated. It’s more accurate to say that the Republicans are for Big Oil while the Democrats are for Big Banks. That has been the case since the modern Democratic Party was re-created by Bill Clinton and Robert Rubin.

Thus, at every crucial opportunity, Obama has failed to stand up for the poor and middle class. He refused to tax the banks and hedge funds properly on their outlandish profits; he refused to limit in a serious way the bankers’ mega-bonuses even when the bonuses were financed by taxpayer bailouts; and he even refused to stand up against extending the Bush tax cuts for the rich last December, though 60 percent of the electorate repeatedly and consistently demanded that the Bush tax cuts at the top should be ended. It’s not hard to understand why. Obama and Democratic Party politicians rely on Wall Street and the super-rich for campaign contributions the same way that the Republicans rely on oil and coal. In America today, only the rich have political power.

Obama could have cut hundreds of billions of dollars in spending that has been wasted on America’s disastrous wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Yemen, but here too it’s been all bait and switch. Obama is either afraid to stand up to the Pentagon or is part of the same neoconservative outlook as his predecessor. The real cause hardly matters since the outcome is the same: America is more militarily engaged under Obama than even under Bush. Amazing but true.

The stimulus legislation, pushed by Obama at the start of his term on the basis of antiquated economic theories, wasted the public’s money and also did something much worse. It discredited the vital role of public spending in solving real and long-term problems. Rather than thinking ahead and planning for long-term solutions, he simply spent money on short-term schemes.

Obama’s embrace of “shovel-ready” infrastructure, for example, left America with an economy based on shovels while China’s long-term strategy has given that country an economy based on 21st-century Maglev trains. Now that the resort to mega-deficits has run its course, Obama is on the verge of abandoning the poor and middle class, by agreeing with the plutocrats in Congress to cut spending on Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, and discretionary civilian spending, while protecting the military and the low tax rates on the rich (if not lowering those top tax rates further according to the secret machinations of the Gang of Six, now endorsed by the president!)

Sachs proposes the rise of a third party to these conditions:

The American people, who have said repeatedly that they want a budget that sharply cuts the military, ends the wars, raises taxes on the rich, protects the poor and the middle class, and invests in America’s future not just in Obama’s speeches but in fact.

America needs a third-party movement to break the hammerlock of the financial elites. Until that happens, the political class and the media conglomerates will continue to spew lies, American militarism will continue to destabilize a growing swath of the world, and the country will continue its economic decline.

A third party is not necessary if the Democratic Party would return to the ancient paths for the 21st century.

The Alabama Democratic Party must offer the people a distinct vision and agenda of reform. To be successful, it will need be an enlivening third-way: an alternative to the stupefying labels of right/left, conservative/liberal. The people of Alabama yearn for something that is not on the table currently. Generally today, Alabamians do not fit well within either party or the stated platforms. Our people demand something unique and different.

This alternative path cannot be some triangulation strategy nor a Republican-lite gimmick.  Neither does it include an ideology of “completing the the New Deal.”  Only 21st century solutions which appeal to Alabamia’s deepest convictions,  morals, and spiritual heritage will suffice to satisfy this desire.

Consistent with the Democratic principles, by embracing policies which relocalize our economy, reject crony capitalism, rebuild wealth to the poor and working people, and rehumanize our markets, the Democratic Party itself would “break the hammerlock of the financial elites.”

Prohibition Party Camel

I know many of you actually attended, but for the uninitiated, the Prohibition Party held is national convention in Alabama this past weekend.

Leaders from one of the nation’s oldest continuously-active political parties were in Cullman to select a nominee for the presidency this weekend as the highlight of their national convention.

About 25 delegates representing the national Prohibition Party converged on the Holiday Inn Express hotel, meeting to review the party’s platform strategy, share fellowship and name a presidential candidate.

That candidate is Jack Fellure, a West Virginian whom the party selected Wednesday morning to vie for the presidency in 2012. Toby Davis of Mississippi was tapped as Fellure’s running mate

They may have to choose Clay County or Randolph County because Cullman is not an option in the future.

Bledsoe said Cullman, selected last year as the site for the 2011 Prohibition Party convention because of its then-dry status, remained the party’s choice even after the city voted in liquor sales last November.

“We selected Cullman because it was dry, and of course in November you went wet,” he said. “But we do not abandon ship; we’re not rats.

Alabama Republican leadership declared this recent legislative sessions great successes. However, illegal and unconstitutional may come to be the general description of their actions. In addition to the likely constitutional challenges to the congressional district lines, the immigration bill, withholding AEA dues, the health insurance mandate,  the voter photo ID bill, here is another probable unconstitutional change: HB425.

The bill basically advances the primary elections to March. But, as pointed out here,

Because the petition deadline for previously unqualified parties, and for non-presidential independent candidates, is on primary day, the bill has the effect of moving these petition deadlines from June to March. No one in the legislature seems aware that in 1991 the 11th circuit struck down Alabama’s old April petition deadline for new parties and non-presidential independent candidates. That case was New Alliance Party of Alabama v Hand, 933 F.2d 1568. Furthermore, back in 1991, the petition was 1% of the last gubernatorial vote; but ever since 1997, it has been 3% (the bill raising the number of signatures passed in 1995 but was not in effect until 1997).

So, it looks like another lawsuit is likely here too.

According to this article from the National Journal, political independence from political parties seems to be greatly waning

But as a purely political calculation, trying to demonstrate independence by breaking from the party on key votes doesn’t appear to be as effective an electoral strategy for House members as it once was. Today’s increasingly parliamentary politics is producing more wave elections in which voters shift between the parties en masse, almost regardless of a member’s individual record. Democrats last fall, for instance, lost 11 of the 17 seats held by McCain district representatives who opposed both the health care and climate-regulation bills. In that environment, it may make more sense for even vulnerable members to help build a party-wide record of accomplishment than to strategically dissent. “Increasingly, I think members see their fate as being tied to that of their party and less about their own individual relationship with their districts,” notes political scientist Alan Abramowitz of Emory
University.

This development does not bode well for our Republic. The health of the Republic greatly relies upon the moral legitimacy of our institutions.  If people believe things are controlled by anything other than the vote and activism such as corporations, or money, or parties, the foundation will be greatly compromised. In the words of the Psalmist: ” if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do.”

The founders saw his danger:

The watchword for all the founders was not “the people” but “the public,” which they understood to mean the collective interest of the citizenry, more enduring than the popular opinion of fleeting majorities. The great evil, they all agreed, was “faction,” which meant narrow-minded interest groups that abandoned the public in favor of their own sectarian agendas, or played demagogue politics with issues in order to confuse the electorate.

Take, for example, two of the classic texts of the founding era. Here is how Madison begins Federalist No. 10: “Among the numerous advantages promised by a well-constructed union, none deserves to be more accurately developed than its tendency to break and control faction,” which he goes on to describe as “this dangerous vice.”

And here is how Washington put it in his Farewell Address: The spirit of party “agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection.” Sound familiar?

Jefferson is somewhat tricky on this score, because he, along with Madison, did create the first political party, known initially as Republicans but — this is tricky too — soon to morph into Democrats. But Jefferson could never admit, even to himself, that he was a political partisan because it violated the core definition of republicanism (i.e. res publica, public things) and the central political legacy of the American founding.

In fact, Jefferson made two of the most eloquent statements against party politics. “If I must go to heaven in a party,” he claimed, “I prefer not to go at all.” And in his first inaugural address, he stunned his partisan supporters by observing that “we are all Federalists, we are all Republicans.”

We need Republicans and Democrats alike to break their utter allegiance to party and vote principle over partisanship.