Morning Action: Conservatives, Big Business Diverge on Immigration

IMMIGRATION.  On Fox Business Network’s “Lou Dobbs Tonight”, Senior Contributor Genevieve Wood discussed big business moving in the opposite direction to conservatives on immigration Wednesday night:

MINIMUM WAGE.  The Congressional Budget Office chief says the CBO wage report is consistent with current economic thinking (sub. req’d):

The head of the Congressional Budget Office rebuffed criticism of the agency’s report that raising the minimum wage would result in job losses, saying the analysis was “completely consistent with the latest thinking in the economic profession.”

CBO Director Douglas W. Elmendorf stressed in a breakfast meeting with reporters on Wednesday there is “substantial uncertainty” surrounding CBO’s central estimate that a net 500,000 jobs would be lost by 2016 if the federal minimum wage is raised from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour.

But Elmendorf also said the main connection CBO made between the wage floor and employment among low-income workers is widely accepted in economic circles. “A balanced reading of a set of research studies in this area led us to conclude that an increase in the minimum wage would probably have a small negative effect on employment,” Elmendorf told reporters at a Christian Science Monitor-sponsored breakfast.

The impact CBO estimates would cost jobs for 0.3 percent of the workforce, though the report says actual job losses could range from a very slight reduction in employment to about 1 million jobs.

The Heritage Foundation states:

In his State of the Union Address, President Obama told Congress to “give America a raise.” But as the job forecasts are revealing, he might as well have told them to “kill some American jobs.”

TAX OVERHAUL.  House Ways and Means Chairman Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI) is apparently determined to pass an overhaul of the nation’s tax code by the end of the 113th Congress (sub. req’d):

On Wednesday, the Michigan Republican told GOP members of the committee that he would, next week, release a “comprehensive discussion draft” of a tax code rewrite, one that would make the tax code “simpler and fairer for families and employers, and . . . strengthen our economy — meaning higher wages and more take home pay for the American worker.”

“It is time to make a choice,” said Camp in his email to colleagues, obtained by CQ Roll Call. “We can choose to have a real discussion about what tax reform can mean for American families and employers or we can choose to cower to special interests and maintain the status quo. Clearly, I choose the former.”

Though Camp’s decision to unveil his draft legislation marks a turning point for proponents of overhauling the tax code on both sides of the aisle, the political odds remain stacked against him.

UKRAINE.  Violence and protests in Ukraine have added to pressure in Congress for sanctions against Ukraine (sub. req’d):

Bipartisan support is building in Congress for sanctions against Ukraine, but it is less clear how much of a role Capitol Hill would play in enacting new ones.

Deadly, raging violence in Kiev protests this week has led to stepped up calls for sanctions from lawmakers, and condemnations of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. It coincides with the Obama administration putting pressure on Yanukovych Wednesday to end the violence and contemplating how to apply that pressure.

President Barack Obama condemned the violence “in the strongest terms” while in Mexico on Wednesday, noting that the administration held the Ukrainian government primarily responsible and said the military should not get involved, while also cautioning protestors to remain peaceful.

PATENT LAWS.  The White House is planning to push forward on curbing frivolous patent infringement lawsuits as senators continue work on legislation (sub. req’d):

Aides and outside interest groups have held a series of policy briefings in recent weeks to understand the details of a variety of Senate proposals, which are the subject of a major lobbying campaign from business interests ranging from software developers to the pharmaceutical industry.

A Senate Democratic aide said Judiciary Committee members “have work to do finding common ground on the more-controversial provisions” that are in play, particularly House-backed language that would make significant changes to civil litigation procedures related to patent lawsuits.

With proponents hoping that a patent litigation overhaul will be one of the few major bills to emerge from a politically divided Congress this year, the White House is keeping up the pressure.

The administration last June unveiled a package of executive actions and legislative recommendations designed to combat the rising problem of “patent trolls,” and President Barack Obama said in his Jan. 28 State of the Union address that Congress should “pass a patent reform bill that allows our businesses to stay focused on innovation, not costly, needless litigation.”

 

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