The political struggle over Obamacare has reached a critical inflection point as real events have overtaken its opponents’ basic arguments. That opposition has always drawn on, and encouraged, doubts about the public’s real interest in a federal guarantee to health insurance and their tolerance for a mandate to enforce it. After the program’s fitful start, it is now clear that large numbers of Americans are prepared to spend the considerable time and money required to sign on. The Rand Corporation estimates that 9.5 million people who had no coverage a month or a year ago now do, thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). I also analyzed the data and found that the newly-insured number at least 7.8 million and as many as 10.9 million. And if the governors and legislatures in 24 states had not inexplicably turned down the ACA’s Medicaid expansion – a decision three of those states are reconsidering -- the total number of newly-insured today would range from 11 million to 14 million.
These numbers create a political inflection point, because the program’s demonstrated appeal renders it virtually impossible to repeal. Arguing against a new federal benefit is an easy political challenge for conservatives. By contrast, withdrawing a benefit that millions already depend on is, at best, a herculean task. Just try to imagine any future Congress or President actually withdrawing practical access to medical coverage from millions of moderate-income families, millions of young adults covered by their parents’ policies, and millions of more people with preexisting medical conditions.
This political inflection point will strengthen not only as more people enroll, but also, and even more important politically, as Obamacare generates benefits for everyone else. To begin, surveys show that several million people would like to change jobs but stay where they are, out of concerns about losing their healthcare coverage. Now, they can do as they like – and the enhanced labor mobility should help the economy.
More important, by enrolling large numbers of previously-uninsured people, Obamacare should slow increases in everyone’s insurance premiums -- or even lower premiums. As countless studies have shown, most people without coverage get their medical care in emergency rooms. Since they usually cannot pay the bills for that care, hospitals pass along those costs through higher charges on everyone else, which in turn leads to higher insurance premiums. The ACA will not only relieve some of those direct pressures on premiums; its mandated coverage also will generate more income for insurers, further easing upward pressures on premiums.
This would be very good news for the American economy. Over the last decade, healthcare coverage has been the single, fastest-rising cost for most U.S employers. But as globalization intensifies competition, many of those employers find themselves unable to pass along their higher healthcare costs by simply raising their prices. Their only recourse, as I have written many times, has been to cut other costs – beginning with jobs and wages. In the end, therefore, the ACA could contribute to broader gains in employment and incomes – and that could produce a political inflection point that could support political realignment.
This post was originally published on Dr. Shapiro's blog
With the future of the Internet being discuss a great deal these days, I just wanted to repost something Alec Ross and I wrote seven years ago. It was an early articulation of what became known as the "Internet Freedom" agenda, and still speaks powerfully today:
"A single global communications network, composed of Internet, mobile, SMS, cable and satellite technology, is rapidly tying the world’s people together as never before. The core premise of this paper is that the emergence of this network is one of the seminal events of the early 21st century. Increasingly, the world’s commerce, finance, communications, media and information are flowing through this network. Half of the world’s 6 billion people are now connected to this network, many through powerful and inexpensive mobile phones. Each year more of the world’s people become connected to the network, its bandwidth increases, and its use becomes more integrated into all that we do.
Connectivity to this network, and the ability to master it once on, has become an essential part of life in the 21st century, and a key to opportunity, success and fulfillment for the people of the world.
We believe it should be a core priority of the United States to ensure that all the world’s people have access to this global network and have the tools to use it for their own life success. There is no way any longer to imagine free societies without the freedom of commerce, expression, and community, which this global network can bring. Bringing this network to all, keeping it free and open and helping people master its use must be one of the highest priorities of those in power in the coming years."
DHS's Alan Bersin on Deepening US-Mexico Ties: A/S Bersin highlighted how increasingly coordinated US-Mexico efforts on security that were “unthinkable 15 years ago” are paving the way for immigration reform and a greater focus on shared economic prosperity and global competitiveness.
Simon Op-Ed, "Some Thoughts on Senate Immigration Border Deal": Simon gives his thoughts on the Senate compromise on border enforcement: "This fall when the President signs a new immigration bill into law in a beautiful Rose Garden ceremony we may look back on the border deal announced yesterday as the savvy compromise which paved the way. I hope that is the case. But I am not convinced that what happened yesterday was strategically advantageous for the cause of reform. While the Democrats received nothing new in the “deal,” the Republicans achieved something very significant – they got the Democrats to buy into one of the big lies of the anti-reform movement, a big lie which is now part of the bill and will be part of the life of the nation for years to come."
Kristian Op-Ed in NBC Latino: "Arizona Sheds Anti-Immigrant Policies; House Should Take Note:" Kristian gives his thoughts on the implications of shifting immigration politics in Arizona: "A combination of real improvements along the border, a series of high-profile legal and political defeats, and a rallying of business and community leaders against the social and economic costs of anti-immigrant politics is ushering in a new, post-SB1070 era in Arizona. As House Republicans in recent days have committed to SB1070 style anti-immigrant politics, it would be wise for them to pay attention to what has happened in Arizona in recent years."
Also see this related article by Benjy Sarlin in MSNBC.
Simon Op-Ed in The Hill: "On the border, DHS has earned Congress' trust": Simon provides his analysis on a flurry of amendments being proposed to the Senate Immigration and border legislation. He argues that the Republican party must acknowledge the positive work done by the Department of Homeland Security at the border in order set realistic and achievable goals for the Senate immigration legislation.
Media call with Southwest Border Mayors to discuss real life impact of immigration policies: NDN hosted a media call with several southwest border mayors will be available to provide context to the ongoing immigration debate and how it impacts real people and the economic vitality of border communities. They include, but are not limited to, the following: Arturo Garino - Mayor of Nogales, Arizona, Raul Salinas - Mayor of Laredo, Texas, Greg Stanton - Mayor of Phoenix, Arizona, Tony Martinez - Mayor of Brownsville, Texas, Ken Miyagashima - Mayor of Las Cruces, New Mexico. Today NDN/NPI hosted a call with two of these regional leaders, Greg Stanton - Mayor of Phoenix, Arizona and Tony Martinez -Mayor of Brownsville, Texas to discuss the Senate immigration legislation and what it means for their communities. To listen to the call please click here.
Simon Op-Ed in Huffington Post: "The Administration's Border Strategy Is Working": Simon analyzes how the US-Mexico border is safer, trade with Mexico has exploded, the immigration system is better, and how the Senate bill will improve upon all of this.
Webinar Presentation: “How Improvements Along the Border, In Our Immigration System and In Mexico Are Impacting the National Immigration Debate”: Three factors that have paved the way for comprehensive immigration reform to happen now in the United States: the US-Mexico border is safer; the immigration system is better; and Mexico is modernizing and growing.
Report: "Realizing the Strategic National Value of our Trade, Tourism and Ports of Entry with Mexico"- The report states: “Trade between Mexico and the United States is among one of the great untold success stories of the last four years….The current negotiations in Congress on comprehensive immigration reform offer a key window of opportunity to expand our ability to facilitate legitimate trade and tourism with Mexico and grow our economy in the process.”
Kristian Op-Ed in AZ Daily Star: "Updating Ports of Entry Will Help Preserve Our Vital Trade with Mexico": Kristian highlights important border provisions, including adding more customs agents and investing in US ports of entry, of the legislation currently in Congress that will benefit the Southern Arizona and overall US economies.
Kristian Op-Ed for VOXXI: “Reasons for Optimism on Border Section of Immigration Legislation”: Thanks to a successful increase in border security at the Southern border and a growing US-Mexico commercial relationship, the Senate Gang of Eight legislation was able to balance enforcement measures with investment in the critical needs of staffing at our ports of entry at the border.
Immigration Reform in 2014? 6 Reasons We’re Optimistic: As 2013 draws to a close, immigration reform prospects among both parties and both chambers of Congress are brighter than ever. See our 6 reasons we believe that Congress can pass immigration reform legislation in 2014.
NDN Statement: New House Immigration Reform Bill Brings Us Closer to Deal. (También en español.): “The introduction of this thoughtful new House immigration reform bill brings us one step closer to getting a bill signed into law in the coming months...."
Event Recap: Evaluating Immigration Reform’s Prospects: NDN and the New Policy Institute hosted long-time immigration advocates Tamar Jacoby and Frank Sharry along with NDN President Simon Rosenberg for an expert, thought-provoking, and optimistic discussion on the path forward for immigration reform.
Simon's latest op-ed in the Huffington Post: Immigration Reform Is Very Much Alive: Contrary to recent news accounts, we are closer to passing a meaningful immigration reform bill than at any point since John McCain and Ted Kennedy introduced their bill in 2005.
Simon’s Statement Celebrating the Passage of the Senate Immigration Reform Bill: “Today, we join in celebrating the passage of the Senate immigration reform bill. As we’ve written before, we believe the bill at its core is ambitious, bold and super smart. It improves the legal immigration system, strengthens border security and interior enforcement, puts unauthorized immigrants on a path to citizenship and makes prudent investments in our ports of entry with Mexico which will create jobs on both sides of our border.”
Analysis: CBO Scoring of Immigration Bill A Game Changer: Simon gives his thought on the CBO score of the Senate Immigration Bill: "The new CBO report is a bit of a political game changer for the immigration debate. While it has been long argued that the Senate Immigration Bill would do many things – improve border security and interior enforcement, resolve the issue of the 11 million undocumented immigrants living and working here in the US, improve the legal immigration system, smartly invest in expanding our trade with Mexico – we now know that it will also help improve the US economy, create jobs and significantly lower the budget deficit."
Simon's Statement on The House Judiciary Bill 'The SAFE Act:' “Today, the House Republicans declared their independence from Comprehensive Immigration Reform. The self-deportation/attrition movement, which captured the Republican Party’s nominee in 2012, has re-asserted itself in American politics. While the House deferred action vote was regrettable, the newly introduced Goodlatte-Gowdy Enforcement Bill (HR 2278), which calls for among other things, guns and body armor for ICE agents, is as true an expression of self-deportation/attrition as one will ever find in Congress. "
Simon's Statement on the Passage of the Border/Immigration Bill out of the Judiciary Committee- “After the Senate Judiciary Committee passed S.755 with a strong bipartisan majority yesterday, we remain optimistic that Congress will be able to pass a good, comprehensive border and immigration bill this year”
Immigration Reform: Bipartisanship's Improbable Poster Child- NDN President Simon Rosenberg and President and CEO of ImmigrationWorks USA Tamar Jacoby met at the New America Foundation to continue this bipartisan engagement on immigration reform. Watch their discussion of how the Senate “Gang of Eight” provides commonsense reform through compromise on border enforcement, an arduous path to citizenship, and a balance on employment-based visas.
Senator Michael Bennet Optimistic About Immigration Reform's Prospects- Senator Michael Bennet (D-Col.), joined by Congressman Joe Garcia (D, FL-26), on the progress of immigration legislation in Congress.
U.S. - Mexico Trade, Office of Representative O’Rourke: See how trade with Mexico affects each of the 50 U.S. states
The following is NDN/NPI's statement on the March 26th release of the “Border Enforcement Accountability, Oversight, and Community Engagement Act of 2014”:
"NDN and the New Policy Institute applaud the introduction of the bipartisan “Border Enforcement Accountability, Oversight, and Community Engagement Act of 2014” by Representatives O’Rourke (D-TX) and Pearce (R-NM). While much progress has been made at the border in recent years, no piece of the comprehensive immigration reform debate is more contentious than that of border and immigration enforcement. This bill works to improve the border enforcement system for all stakeholders, including port and enforcement personnel, people traveling across the border, and border communities. It would strengthen the system that facilitates our burgeoning cross-border travel and trade, bolsters national security, and discourages unauthorized migration, in keeping with American ideals.
NDN/NPI especially commend the bill’s proposed evaluation of the management of ports of entry. Over one million people and $1.3 billion dollars worth of trade cross the nearly 2,000 mile US-Mexico border each day. The bill would allow for additional customs staff, infrastructure, and technology at ports where lengthy wait times are negatively impacting the local and national economy.
We remain optimistic that Congress can pass a comprehensive immigration reform package this year that bolsters national security, decreases the national deficit, boosts GDP, and brings millions of people out of the shadows. This “Border Enforcement Accountability, Oversight, and Community Engagement Act of 2014” is an important step toward that goal and will help build trust on all sides around border enforcement. We urge both parties of Congress to lend their full support."
A summary of the bill is available here, courtesy of the Border Network for Human Rights.
Last week Simon participated in “The Human Face of Immigration” panel hosted by the World Affairs Council in San Francisco with immigration reform activist Jose Antonio Vargas, and Tara Magner of the MacArthur Foundation. In case you missed it, video of their compelling discussion is available here:
NDN has long asserted that the Administration’s investment in immigration and border enforcement has paid off. In the panel, Simon highlighted that “despite very difficult politics, despite the fact that the cartel violence in Mexico is very real, and is something that we can’t ignore, crime on the US side of the border has plummeted.” Moreover, the two safest cities in the US, San Diego and El Paso, are border cities.
President Obama has faced harsh criticism recently from immigration reform advocate groups over the deportation of undocumented immigrants. While President Obama inherited much of this enforcement and deportation regime, his Administration has worked to dramatically change the nature of who is being deported. It has enacted prosecutorial discretion, prioritizing convicted criminals and people caught crossing the border over low threats in the interior. Simon said: “[President Obama] deserves much more credit, frankly, than what people are giving him, having taken a very difficult situation and making it far better than it used to be. There is only one way to stop the deportations, and that is by passing comprehensive immigration reform.”
See this piece on why NDN is optimistic about immigration reform in 2014, and this recent analysis on the Administration’s progress on immigration and border enforcement.
Throughout the debate over how to build a better immigration system for America, there has been tension over the many competing goals of reform. Perhaps no piece of comprehensive immigration reform better exposes these tensions than the debate over immigration and border enforcement. The struggle to craft a strategy that encourages expanding levels of legal trade and travel, discourages unauthorized migration, and keeps the US safe—all while doing so in a way consistent with American values—is no easy task. It is our belief, after reviewing the data from recent years, that the Obama Administration has in fact managed this enforcement system well and deserves far more credit than they have received for doing a good job on a really tough and highly contentious set of responsibilities.
Our evidence is in this set of recent analyses that we and other organizations have produced. In sum, crime on the US side of the border has plummeted; net migration of unauthorized migrants has fallen to zero today; the deportation system is removing far more criminals and border crossers and has de-prioritized law abiding unauthorized migrants living in the US; and even with a far more aggressive and enforcement strategy, trade with Mexico has exploded, almost doubling in the last five years.
Some key stats from our recent reports:
Crime is down across the US side of the border. The two largest border cities, El Paso and San Diego, are the two safest large cities in America today.
Four of the five high traffic migration corridors across the US-Mexican border are already at or near the Senate bill’s goal of 90% effectiveness rate.
Net migration from Mexico has fallen from its 2001 peak of 770,000 people per year to zero today.
Since President Obama took office, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has made steps to prioritize removing criminals and recent border crossers. ICE reports that in 2013, 59% of unauthorized immigrants it removed from the US had a criminal conviction, and about two thirds were removed at the border. Of 368,644 removals, only 10,336 individuals were not convicted of a crime, repeat immigration violators, immigration fugitives, or at the border.
In 2012 the Obama Administration implemented the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, to allow about one million DREAMers, unauthorized immigrants brought to the US as youths, to work and study legally in the US.
Trade with Mexico has jumped from $340b in 2009 to about $550b in 2013. Mexico is America’s 3rd largest trading partner, and 2nd largest export market. $1.3billion worth of goods and 1 million people that cross the 2000 mile US-Mexico border each day
While more can be done to make the system even better still, it is long past time for all parties in this debate to give the Obama Administration far more credit than they have received to date for making the border and immigration enforcement system more effective and more humane. The best way of course to build on this progress is by passing something akin to the already passed, bi-partisan Senate immigration bill.
In an essay that Simon and I wrote today, we estimated that in 2009 the number of non-criminal, non-border deportations was around 150,000. That estimate was based on the FY 2013 ICE report and this ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations document. For more on our calculations, see the following:
151,893 people were removed by ICE at the border (FY 2013 report), so one can calculate 237,941 were interior removals.
Allowing that there was no policy in place prioritizing the removal of convicted criminal immigration violators in 2009, one can apply the 35% rate of criminal deportations to the total interior number to estimate that 83,279 criminals were deported from the interior.
This would leave 154,662 non-criminal, non-border removals (40% of the total FY 2009 removals).
Note: That specific breakout is not currently available from ICE. If you have more specific data, we are happy to incorporate it.
Given the very public discussion about the Obama Administration’s immigration enforcement and deportation strategy in the last few weeks, we’ve spent some time going through a new ICE report on deportations, and frankly, it had some surprising findings in it.
At NDN, we have long argued that despite both very real operational and political challenges, the Obama Administration has done a very good job in managing one really important piece of the enforcement puzzle - our border with Mexico. Crime is down substantially on the US side of the border, and net migration of unauthorized migrants from Mexico has dropped from 700,000 per year to zero today. While the border has been toughened up, we have also seen a huge increase in cross border trade with Mexico, which has almost doubled since 2009. Despite this increased security, Mexico is now our 3rd largest trading partner and 2nd largest export market in the world.
The new FY 2013 report from ICE, which offers a more detailed look at our deportation strategy than was available in previous years, shows similar success. While the report shows that deportations of unauthorized migrants remain at near historic highs, it also chronicles how smart Obama Administration policies putting greater priority on the removal of criminal migrants and border crossers has dramatically altered the composition of who gets deported. Over the past few years, we’ve seen a steady increase in these high-priority deportations; almost all of those deported in 2013 were either convicted criminals or people caught at the border attempting to enter the country illegally. Remarkably, only 10,336 non-criminal, non-border-crossers were removed from the country in FY 2013. In 2009, based on one estimate, this number was closer to 150,000. The percentage of those deported who are convicted criminals has risen from 35% in 2009, to 59% in 2013.
These numbers should bring some comfort to the critics of the Obama Administration deportation policies. For those wanting a more humane system, we’ve seen the near elimination of the deportation of run of the mill non-criminal unauthorized migrants. For those calling for even tougher policies, the explosion of deportation of border-crossers and criminals should be welcome news. Prioritizing criminals for deportation is clearly the best use of our limited deportation resources, and leaves the nation far safer than in the day of Bush era workplace raids.
But rather than doing an even deeper analysis of the ICE report, we think it should speak for itself. We end with some of the more interesting charts and graphs in the report, and look forward to hearing from others well versed in this tough and important issue.
Source: FY 2013 ICE Immigration Removals
Source: FY 2013 ICE Immigration Removals
See the full "FY 2013 ICE Immigration Removals" report here.
Please join us for a special event next Thursday - a discussion with noted author and former State Department official, Emily Parker. Emily will be discussing her new book, “Now I Know Who My Comrades Are,” which features her own on the ground reporting on Internet-based activists challenging the authoritarian regimes in China, Cuba and Russia. For more on this terrific and timely new book, please see below.
Our book talk will take place next Thursday at NDN, 729 15th St, NW 1st floor. Lunch will be served at noon, and the discussion will begin at 12:15p. You can RSVP here. I hope you will join us for what will be an insightful discussion.
Praise for “Now I Know Who My Comrades Are” –
"Emily Parker’s book Now I Know Who My Comrades Are: Voices from the Internet Underground is a rigorously researched and reported account that reads like a thriller . . . It’s been a while since I have read a book that is so entertaining, not to mention one so encouraging for the culture of liberty.”—Mario Vargas Llosa, Nobel Prize–winning author
“Although dissident use of the Internet is already part of the twenty-first-century story, Parker goes beyond the obvious headlines to the grinding daily battles of people and situations that receive only passing media notice. . . Some of what she reveals is stunning (2012 estimates find that only 5 percent of Cubans have regular access to the web), but the book’s greatest strength is the intimacy with which she describes the lives of her subjects. . .Parker profiles fascinating people and effectively shows why, in hands like theirs, social media is one of the most important tools for conducting positive political and social change around the world.”—Colleen Mondor, Booklist (starred review)
“Now I Know Who My Comrades Are is a timely and necessary book. Story by story, Emily Parker shows how the Internet has changed lives and social realities in three oppressive countries. The clarity, honesty, and intelligence of her writing make this book both admirable and enjoyable.”—Ha Jin, National Book Award–winning author of Waiting and War Trash
"Emily Parker tells us enthralling and beautifully detailed stories about bloggers and Internet activists in China, Russia, and Cuba, showing us the power of human connection even as she describes and analyzes it. The combination of her humanism and keen insight illuminates dimensions of the Internet that we so often miss, the ways it can create the personal ties and trust that are the foundation of collective action. A great read for both the nightstand and the scholar's shelf.”—Anne-Marie Slaughter, president and CEO of the New America Foundation
“The heroes of this terrific book are ‘Internet foot soldiers,’ not the usual foreign ministers and businessmen, and those soldiers are changing Russia, China, and Cuba . . . and the world. Emily Parker is among a handful of the most promising new foreign policy commentators who weave together technology, culture, society, and politics with hard facts and clear analysis.”—Leslie H. Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations
“This book is about twenty times better reported or written than any book ever written about the Internet, period.”—Tim Wu, author of The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires
“In this fascinating book, Emily Parker shows that the Internet affects politics by affecting the psychology of its users. Now I Know Who My Comrades Are demonstrates how much it can matter for citizens to have a voice, and to discover that they are not alone.”—Clay Shirky, author of Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations
For the past 4 years, I’ve been fortunate to make presentations on the US economy to important policy makers here in Washington. Every time I’ve been asked to present, I’ve always come back to a power point presentation I first presented at a meeting at the House Democratic Caucus in the fall of 2009 called “Raising Our Game.” It is a big sweeping look at what has happened to the American economy over the past generation, and it offers some ideas on how policy makers can best address what has been far too tough a time for every day Americans. At the core of the presentation is an effort to create a rallying cry, a narrative which can guide us in the years ahead: “The rest of the world is raising its game; it is time for us to raise ours.”
This work draws heavily on the economic work Dr. Rob Shapiro has been doing here at NDN and other venues for years. To get a better sense of where we are going with this, please review this backgrounder which showcases the Time Magazine piece which talked about the influence of this deck and it’s analysis on politics in the US and the UK. Be sure to also read my most recent essay which connects the President’s current effort to expand exports and liberalize trade to the work of FDR and Truman in building the current global economic system, one which has done so much good for so many.
I've been making this presentation in 2014 each month at our Washington, DC offices. The next presentation will take place on Thursday, July 17th, from noon to 1:15 p.m. here at NDN, 729 15th St, 1st floor. Please reserve your spot here. And feel free to invite colleagues or staffers to come along as well.