Video: Cruz tries to offer amendment addressing ObamaCare penalty in immigration bill

posted at 8:01 am on June 26, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Lengthy, but definitely worth the time spent on it.  If you don’t have the time to watch Senator Ted Cruz try to fix the massive application of the Law of Unintended Consequences that arose last night in the Gang of Eight’s comprehensive immigration reform bill — the penalty for hiring American citizens and legal immigrants rather than “RPIs” because of ObamaCare — then read the transcript at Cruz’s official Senate website.  Cruz’ amendment would fix the problem for the Go8 … or would have, had Democrats not objected to its addition to the floor debate:

“I filed an amendment that would have corrected one of the most egregious aspects of the gang of eight bill as it intersects with Obamacare legislation, namely a penalty imposed on U.S. employers for hiring U.S. citizens and U.S. permanent residents. This bill says if an employer hires a citizen or a legal immigrant, the IRS can impose a $5,000 penalty on that employer. But if the employer instead hires someone with RPI status, that penalty will go away. That is utterly and completely indefensible,” Sen. Cruz said.

“Nobody in this body wants to see African-American unemployment go up. Nobody wants to see Hispanic unemployment go up, youth unemployment go up, union household unemployment go up, legal immigrant unemployment go up. Yet every one of those will happen if this Gang of Eight bill passes without fixing this problem. If that happens, all 100 members of the U.S. Senate will be accountable to our constituents for explaining why we voted to put a federal penalty on hiring U.S. citizens and hiring legal immigrants. I hope this body will choose to pass my amendment and fix this grave defect in the Gang of Eight legislation.”

In his remarks, Sen. Cruz offered a hypothetical example of how this would impact American employers, citing a business that employs 100 workers. If the current bill passes, the business owner will have an incentive to hire illegal immigrants, rather than citizens of legal residents. For instance, if the owner planned to hire five new workers, hiring RPIs instead of citizens or legal immigrants could save his business $25,000 per year.

Additionally, the Senator noted that authors and proponents of the bill recognized this was an issue, supported efforts to fix it, but failed to do so.

This came up during my guest-hosting gig on the Hugh Hewitt show last night, when I interviewed Jeff Sessions in the second hour.  I don’t have the audio, but Duane Patterson posted the transcript last night:

EM: Well, I just got done reading this update over at Hotair.com about the…when Congress passes legislation, often you’ll find some perverse incentives that fall under the unintended consequences rubric, I guess. This seems to be one of these. If you’re a business owner, and you’ve got more than 50 employees, and you don’t offer health insurance, you could be fined unless you’re hiring amnestied, or what they’re calling amnesty, but workers…

JS: RPI’s, yes.

EM: …who have gone through the first pass of normalization, because they’re not eligible for Obamacare. And so you can avoid fines by hiring these guys instead of American citizens. Had you heard about this?

JS: Yes, it’s just one of the things that’s been discovered. Ted Cruz has really done a great job. He spoke about 30 minutes tonight laying that out on the floor of the Senate. And it’s just, this is just one more of the things that are being found in this Obamacare-type 1,200 page document that’s so complex that the sponsors and people who think it’s so wonderful, they don’t know what’s in it, because it’s almost impossible to find out what’s in it until it aims a gun at you and blows a hole in your head one day in the future. So this is, you know, we just don’t do comprehensive well in the Senate. And a step by step approach should be so much better, so much wiser, and we could do it in a way that would be, could actually work. I just think this is a typical example of a lot of the things we’ve found wrong with the bill.

One would think that if the Senate was serious about passing meaningful reform with security for both the borders and legal workers presently in the US, they’d welcome a fix from Ted Cruz.  If not, then that speaks to the priorities of all involved.

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