I am not so naïve to think that because Trump mouthed words in favor of infrastructure spending, that infrastructure proposals coming out of a Democratic House are likely to become laws. Even if they don’t get passed, however, hearings about areas of possible infrastructure improvement might further the education of both Congress and the country so that someday we can make progress on these issues. But my despair about the unlikelihood of passage is not total. After all, recently Trump signed laws passed by Congress with bipartisan support aimed at attacking our opioid crisis, an area, as with infrastructure, where Trump had made promises. And again with bipartisan support, Congress passed and the President signed criminal justice reform legislation.

My more cynical or, I believe realistic, side may believe that the opioid laws got enacted only because they do not require much federal spending (and my prophetic side says that the laws will have limited effect because not enough money is being allocated for addiction treatment.) And the criminal justice package, although receiving a fair amount of hype, was in reality only a modest reform, but still these laws did get enacted.

I won’t be shocked if increased infrastructure spending is resisted by Republicans who say that the federal deficit is too high, who will again care about this issue when faced with Democratic initiative. If so, the Democrats will have been handed a political tool. They can explain again the real effects of the Republican tax cuts; how that legislation primarily helped the rich and corporations; and how it is now being used to prevent programs that help the country. The hypocrisy of Trump and the Republicans on deficits might become more apparent.

While infrastructure bills may be good politically, the most important reason for them, however, is that an improved infrastructure would be good for the country. Country before politics. What a quaint idea.

Improving infrastructure will cost money, but a law legalizing the status of Dreamers will not. President Trump’s administration rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, but he said that the rescission came because Obama’s executive actions creating DACA were unconstitutional. Trump maintained that legislation should be enacted for the non-citizens who were brought here as children. He stated that he wanted to “work out something” for the Dreamers. “We don’t want to hurt those kids. We love the Dreamers.” Democrats, take note.

Some prominent Republicans have supported legislation for the Dreamers, but it has not passed. Part of the reason is that Trump has often bundled it with his desire for a border wall. House Democrats should hold hearings that will create sympathy for Dreamers and show that legalizing their status is good for the economy. Maybe they can then pass a Dreamers act untethered from the wall and other initiatives.  The Senate Republicans may again attach a border wall funding bill to this, but their willingness to play politics with the issue should be apparent if facing a Dreamers act stripped clean of anything else. Bring sympathetic Dreamers from Florida, Texas, Arizona, Ohio and elsewhere and let Republicans explain why border wall funding or some other issue should prevent such desirable Americans being removed from legal limbo. This would be good politics, but the most important reason to do this is that resolving this issue is good for the country. Moreover, the president has claimed that he favors a resolution. Work it!

(Concluded January 7)

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