Top presidential aide Valerie Jarrett told reporters Friday that Virginia GOP candidate Dave Brat is wrong when he says the business-backed push for increased immigration is crony capitalism, and that Rupert Murdoch is right to call for more foreign workers.
“No, no, no, I mean our analysis shows that immigration reform would be terrific for the economy, would grow jobs, would bring people out of the shadows,” she told The Daily Caller at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.
But her criticism of Brat was accompanied by effusive praise for Rupert Murdoch, the head of News Corp., and for other business leaders who are pushing for the Senate immigration rewrite, which would provide them with cheaper workers and more customers.
On June 18, Murdoch used an op-ed in his Wall Street Journal to call for passage of a law allowing companies to hire an unlimited number of foreign professionals in place of Americans.
On June 17, Jarrett and Murdoch met for dinner at the three-star Blue Duck Tavern.
“I had a very enjoyable dinner with Rupert, and he made it clear that he would like to try to help galvanize the business community support [for the Senate bill] … not just through private [conversation] but through public action,” Jarrett told the reporters.
“I was very heartened by Rupert Murdoch’s passionate interest in immigration reform,” she said. “He understands from a business perspective how important immigration reform will be to our economy, and our conversation was really reflected in the op-ed he published in the Wall Street Journal.”
The bill would double the inflow of guest workers and legal immigrants to roughly four million per year for a decade. That’s roughly equal to the number of Americans who turn 18 each year.
Between 2000 and 2013, the government accepted 10 million guest workers and 13 million immigrants.
As the labor supply rose during this period, Americans’ wages stalled. In 2012, employees’ share of the nation’s annual income dropped to the lowest level in 63 years, while companies’ share reached an after-tax, 85-year record level. Amid higher profits, the stock market rose to record heights, and nearly all the wealth generated since the 2008 was gained by the top 1 percent.
Numerous polls show that the push for amnesty and more guest workers is unpopular. That unpopularity was highlighted June 10 when Dave Brat — a college professor with $200,000 in donations —- ousted Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor in a GOP primary.
Brat won 55 percent of the vote, partly by slamming Cantor’s on-and-off support for a bill that would boost the flow of guest workers and provide an amnesty younger illegal immigrants. “I will fight to end crony capitalist programs that benefit the rich and powerful,” Brat said in his victory speech, where he described amnesty as “big business gets the cheap labor and the American people pay the tab.”
Despite Cantor’s shocking defeat, Jarrett urged the GOP to back the bill.
“Sometimes decisions are tough, but it is time for Congress to step up and act now,” she said.
GOP leaders should be reassured by support from Murdoch, she said.
Before dinner with Murdoch, Jarrett said she had breakfast with top business leaders at the D.C.-based Business Roundtable lobby where they described their plans to lobby for the Senate’s immigration bill.
“The Business Roundtable was meeting in town, and I met with their executive committee over breakfast as well — so dinner with Rupert and breakfast with the Business Roundtable,” Jarrett said.
“They were all here and meeting with leadership on the Hill and impressing on them for the business imperative for acting now,” she said.
“There are a wide range of business leaders … who appreciate the importance of comprehensive immigration reform, and who full-throatedly support the bill that was passed by the Senate a year ago,” she said.
Economists generally agree that increased immigration will expand the economy, but will also drive down wages of Americans who have to compete against the foreign workers.
But Jarrett focused her arguments on the advantages for immigrants and for federal tax receipts.
If Congress passed the Senate’s immigration bill, the roughly 12 million illegal immigrants “will pay taxes, they will have employers who can no longer take advantage of them by paying them lower wags, they’ll have to come of the shadows — both the employers and the employees — and so immigration reform is resoundingly good for the economy,” she told the reporters at the breakfast.
“The immigration reform that the president would support is embodied in the Senate bill, which is the only bill that’s actually on the table concretely [and] is good for the economy,” she said.
She did not say if the immigration bill would be good for individual Americans.