NDN Blog

Why Immigrants Boost American Jobs

NDN’s Globalization Initiative and our Hispanic Strategy Centre tend to roam in different parts of the forest. But we join in our interest in story’s like this morning’s Post piece saying that immigrants don’t destroy American jobs. Why is this news? Apocalyptic visions of House Republicans certainly has more to do with it than any earth shattering economic revelation. It is worth restating, nevertheless, that there is no reason in theory to think that immigrants “take American jobs.” (See the “Lump of Labor fallacy for more on this.) In fact, there are some reasons to think that immigrants can increase employment. A recent study of immigrant workers in North Carolina found that Latino immigrants did cost $100m more in services than they paid in taxes, something which shouldn’t really be too surprising given the profile of public assistance users generally. But the same group contributed nearly $10 bn – yes, ten billion – in spending, or approximately 90,000 extra jobs.

Wages are a thornier issue. In theory, low skilled immigrants lower the wages of low skilled Americans, for instance high school dropouts or illiterate adults. Whether they do or not is hotly contested in academic literature. But the wider point is that the type of wage stagnation discussed in Rob and Simon's NDN memo earlier this month has, say most economists, almost nothing to do with immigration levels. (Most agree that this is a long-term term trend born of changing returns to skills, new technologies and patterns of trade.) The best overview i've seen of all of this is the excellent Economist Economics Focus for the pros and cons. But note in particular the final line:

None of these studies is decisive, but taken together they suggest that immigration, in the long run, has had only a small negative effect on the pay of America's least skilled and even that is arguable. If Congress wants to reduce wage inequality, building border walls is a bad way of going about it.

Nicely said. I wonder if anyone is listening?

Rudy Giulianni vs. Larry King: A Battle of the Out-of-Touch Titans

In between the ads for Ensure and life insurance, Rudy Giuliani said something interesting last night on Larry King Live.  He said that "we are at war with Islamic fascists, this is not a police action."  I think Mr. Giuliani - a terrorism expert according to Mr. King - truly wants to believe that we can defeat terrorists through our involvement in a very twentieth century war, with thousands of American boots on the ground in Iraq.  Mr. Giuliani must have missed the report that the British foiled this murderous plan to blow-up passenger aircraft over the mid-Atlantic by conducting a month-long investigation, involving Scotland Yard, MI5 and security services in Pakistan.  It even looks like the breakthrough in the investigation came from a single undercover agent

With the Taliban back on the rise in Afghanistan, the President continuing to substitute "stay the course" for a real plan in Iraq, Arabic linguists vital to fighting terrorism being discharged from the army for their sexuality and Republican "experts" like Rudy Giuliani completely missing the point in this latest episode, it seems suspiciously as if the Republicans are working overtime to give cast-iron credibility to the Democrats' claim that we need a "New Direction" in how we fight terrorism.

NDN in the News

Simon was in the Las Vegas Sun yesterday praising the leadership style of Senate Minority Leader Senator Harry Reid.

"Simon Rosenberg, who runs the centrist New Democrat Network but advocates a policy of confrontation with Republicans, said Reid decided that compromise and deal-making could no longer work in the partisan atmosphere of Washington: "Harry Reid understands that if we're playing on their playing field, we have to play by their rules." 

Ned Lamont and the future of Trade

Greg Manciw, an economist at Harvard, runs an intriguing blog on matters economic. He holds his lofty position, at least in part, because of he quit / was pushed from his previous role as Chairman of the President's council of Economic Advisors. This happened after some some heretical thoughts on outsourcing; heretical in the sense that most sane economist's completely agreed with him. (NDN's Rob Shapiro has often notes that this administration doesn't have a serious economist anywhere near the leavers of power so Manciw might not regret his decision much.) Anyway, today Manciw is found musing about what New Lamont's jobs policy tells you about the direction the Democratic party has been taking on trade issues.

This rhetoric scares me. Wages, benefits, and labor and environmental standards are primarily a function of the level of economic development. Complaining about poor countries' low wages and benefits is essentially blaming the poor for being poor.....Demanding "strong standards" can easily become an excuse for imposing trade restrictions, which will only improvish the world's poor even further, as well as denying Americans the benefits of globalization.

Say what you want about Joe Lieberman, but he managed to combine two things that the Democratic party today finds difficult: a strong record on labor issues, with a recognition that open trade benefits the American people. This record makes the task for the mid-terms - and lets put Mr Lamont to one side for moment - clear, but very tough. Democrats must make an issue out of stagnant wages for working people, but not do so in such a way that portray global trade as a pantomime villain. Sadly, not even Tradesport seems able to give these odds.

NDN in the News

Simon is in the USA Today discussing Senator Lieberman's decision to run as an Independent.  For more of Simon's thoughts on the CT primary, check out his blog entry from yesterday. 

"Simon Rosenberg, president of the centrist New Democrat Network, called Lieberman's loss "a political failure of great magnitude" and urged him to "end this part of your remarkable career."

Where the smart money is after Connecticut

And a big NDN hello! to our new readers, after yesterday's fun and excitement. I'll be leaving the state of the nation stuff to Simon, and go for the fripperires instead. Much discussion today of how yesterday's events in Connecticut will play out during the coming three months. Its a toss-up between Democrats heading for cut n'run rack and ruin if you believe the Vice President; Democrats energised and united if you believe the Democratic leadership; or the country hungry for the McCain-Lieberman Party, if you believe David Brooks. How can you tell who is right? Enter a nifty website a friend sent me this morning, Tradesport.com, which uses betting patterns to provide odds on all manner of good things. What do the punters say? Yesterday, it showed that the long term slide in odds of the GOP retaining the House in November continued. Not quite as rosy on the Senate, however. Joementum or not makes little difference in a fairly steady bet that the Dems are in an uphill struggle to take back the Senate. To think: all of that commentary ink spilled, and the betting men are unmoved. A lesson for us all?

NDN in the News

NPI Fellow Jennifer Nix is in the San Francisco Chronicle today discussing the impact of the netroots in yesterday's CT Primary.

Slate on You Tube, User Created Political Videos and the Lamont Campaign

Interesting article at Slate on the Lamont campaign and it's use and encouragement of user created videos on Youtube...

"Lamont's forces have proved one lesson of campaigns in the digital age: Content is king. Throughout the contest, the challenger's supporters produced and circulated a steady stream of videos that were witty, powerful, and in a way became the fulcrum of the campaign...

The Lamont forces have now shown the better way. (Lieberman's supporters did not seem to participate in any meaningful way in this new medium.) The Lamont videos were far more effective than tendentious blog posts, and they gave energetic supporters an outlet for their energies (a person can only pound so many yard signs). What's more, the videos offered a regular dose of entertainment to supporters who were interested but not obsessed."

Bernanke's Recession Gamble

Startling as it might seen, some news happened outside of Connecticut in America yesterday. Fed Chair Beranke's will-he won't-he dance came down on the side of won't, as rates were left unchanged. Good news for the mortgage, bad news for the economy? Seems like it. What last week looked like recession predictions from baby Bear have been joined this week by the Mama and Pappa Bear's of the economic firmament: Krugman, De Long , Feldstein to name but three. The balancing act is well put in a piece in the Times this morning:

The dilemma for policy makers is that if the Fed is forced into a serious crackdown on inflation, it risks throwing the economy into a recession. That would leave workers whose wages in recent years have barely kept up with price increases in worse shape, just as many are beginning to reap some modest gains from economic growth. And with energy prices up sharply, many workers, whose pay increases have also lagged far behind productivity gains, have less disposable income for other purposes.

There was further evidence that the White House is paying more attention to pocket book issues yesterday, when Press Sec Tony Snow led off his noon "gaggle" by pushing hopeful looking hourly compensation figures from the commerce department. Bill Emmott, former editor of the Economist, writes this morning that a slowdown in the US economy would be no bad thing, just as his ex-magazine wrote last week that slower american growth was exactly what the Fed should be in the business of promoting to combat inflation. And so they might. But a recession, following growth which failed to benefit most American workers, is a fix even the able Mr Snow might not be able talk himself out of.

The morning after

With many days of discussion ahead, I offer a quick take on the meaning of Lamont’s win last night:

1. Those running too close to Bush and his government could pay a heavy price this fall. Joe Lieberman has been one of the most public defenders of Bush and his failed government, even attacking other Democrats who challenged Bush. Two-thirds of the American people want a new direction. Candidates credibly offering a new path will have the upper hand this fall.

2. In this new era, partisanship is a virtue. The conservatives rise to power, and their utter failure to govern responsibly or effectively, requires a new progressive politics of confrontation, not accommodation. This new politics may be uncomfortable to those used to an America governed by Democrats and progressive values, but for our politics and values to triumph progressives must and are learning how to resist “cutting deals,” working to “get things done” on terms set by an irresponsible governing majority.

This is not an ideological development in progressive politics, but a pragmatic one. Senator Lieberman never understood this, constantly seeing this discussion through an outdated and inappropriate ideological prism. Of course there is room for someone with Senator Lieberman’s view on the War, for example. He was after all endorsed by virtually ever major institution in the Democratic family. There is a growing, and necessary, intolerance, however, of progressive leaders unwilling to take on Bush and his failed government head on – and this was the battleground in this election, whether the Senator understood it or not.

I have great sympathy for those wishing our politics could be more genteel, where both sides could come together to work things out for the common good. But we live in a different time, and our the rising partisanship in the Democratic Party is a necessary, pragmatic and I believe virtuous response to the circumstances we face today at the dawn of the 21st century.

3. A new 21st century politics is emerging. As NDN and its affiliate NPI have been saying for some time, new governing challenges, new ways of communication and a changing American people are rapidly creating a new politics unfamiliar to those of us who grew up in 20th century American politics. Political success in the future will derive from a leader’s mastery not just of a compelling and effective governing agenda, but of “new 21st century tools” to get one’s message out more effectively and the engagement of vital new citizens who are yearning to be part of – and ultimately will change – our politics.

4. Senator Lieberman should end his re-election bid. There are many reasons he should bring his campaign to an end, but in this entry I site one above all - performance. From the beginning of this race the Senator has seemed to be conducting a campaign for a different era, a different conversation and a different time. Given his stature, losing a Democratic Primary to an unknown opponent is a political failure of great magnitude. I have offered my advice and my critique of what has been a terrible campaign on this blog for the past several weeks. Given the scale of the mistakes he has made so far, and how out of touch with the state he has become, why should anyone believe he will figure out to do something seldom done in history – win as an independent after losing a primary?

It is time, my good friend. Senator Lieberman, it is time. Time to end this part of your remarkable career with dignity, grace and honor. You had a great run, made a great contribution, and done a lot of good. But it is time to move on.

Update

Given the interest on this issue, i wanted to point to some previous blogs during the Primary campaign. I wrote about Senator Lieberman's three main missteps last week, and earlier in the month had offered my advice on his campaign. I also posted some comments on a perceptive article by Ruth Marcus. I hope this helps understand where I am coming from on this. Simon.

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