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November 24, 2014

A COUPLE OF IDEAS FOR THE GOP IN RESPONDING TO OBAMA’S IMMIGRATION INITIATIVE: These would be embarrassing for Obama to veto, popular with the public, and a good idea anyway.

First, a much stricter prevailing-wage law for H1B visas, with big damages designed to make plaintiffs’ attorneys zero in on this area. You can import foreign help if you want, but you have to pay those Indian or Chinese software engineers the prevailing wage for American software engineers in Silicon Valley, rather than paying the pittance most companies pay now. (In one case, a Silicon Valley firm was paying $1.21 an hour.) There has been a lot of cheating on H1 visas, and this should help. The tech companies’ excuse for hiring immigrants is that they can’t find enough qualified Americans, not that they just want to pay sweatshop wages, though that excuse is bogus. Companies also draw out the H1B application process to keep workers under their thumbs and away from competitors, something called “handcuffing.” Maybe shortening the fuse on the application process there would be a good idea, too, or — again — creating damages that trial lawyers can exploit. (Most GOP types reflexively hate trial lawyers, but, like Kurt Schlichter, I think it’s better to have them working for you than against you). For more fun, make CEO’s and HR heads personally responsible for violations, a la Sarbanes-Oxley. . . .

Tech companies will hate this, but I don’t see any downside for Republicans in siding with employees against the super-wealthy of Silicon Valley. It might even split off some tech-industry support, dividing the Silicon Valley worker bees from the oligarchs. I have Democratic friends who work there and this is a really big issue among them. And who could be against paying a “living wage?” For added fun, have some hearings where fatcat Silicon Valley oligarchs are grilled about worker exploitation.

Second, a tax on remittances to Mexico and other countries from which we get a lot of illegal immigrants. Make it equal to the tax bracket of the average working American. Since they’re not paying taxes, it’s only fair for them to chip in while they’re earning money here. 25% sounds like a good number. And how can Obama veto a tax? Make him.