Even in the best of times few people look forward to July and August here in Arizona. The annual monsoon adds enough humidity to the heat load to drive most folks indoors, as though it were Minneapolis in January.
But this year Arizonans have more to worry about than dehydration. Our state is under social and economic pressure, emanating from far-off places but landing in the center of our lives. We face two aggressive problems, both advancing: the drug cartels in Mexico, and the tax cartel in Washington, D.C.
Both are determined and sophisticated; it’s hard to say which is more treacherous. For those lying awake along our southern border, “Killing Pablo” — the title of an important book on America’s last go-round with narco-terror types and active US engagement in Medellin, Colombia to take down Pablo Escobar and his cocaine cartel in the mid-90’s — has to be the top priority. For all those looking for work and fighting to stay afloat or sustain a business, the Obama-Pelosi tax cartel presents the more clear and present danger.
Obama says he just wants to spread the wealth around, and the Mexican drug lords just want to spread the dope around. Rank them as you will; they are the twin threats bearing down on our beautiful and promising state as it fights to secure its border and its future.
The Obama Justice Department’s suit against Arizona’s recently enacted illegal immigration law will enter history as a sordid act, at best. Last week’s decision by a Clinton appointee enjoining much of the law is full of holes, and regardless of how the courts ultimately rule on the question of preemption, there is something wrong with an administration that attacks a state in federal court when it ought to be attacking the narco-terrorists and broken border that endanger the citizens of that state, including its Hispanic citizens.
This is no longer a matter of the desperate braving the desert to slip across and seek work. Many of the people caught here or landing on the beaches of San Diego County (there have been numerous such landings lately of which the American people have heard almost nothing) have criminal records in the US or elsewhere. And not all those captured have been from Mexico; some are from terror-exporting nations. Arizona ranchers have been finding Korans and prayer rugs in the virtual sea of garbage that the human and drug trafficking activity has left rotting in the Sonoran desert. Amid the teeming criminal activity to our south, no one really knows to what extent Pablo is running with Muhammad, or soon will be. What’s worse, no one knows whether Janet Napolitano wants to know.
In 2008, the pre-Obama DOJ reported that the cartels had then established presence in nearly 200 American cities, and posed “the most pervasive organizational threat to the United States.” More than two years on, in our part of the world “drug war” is no longer a politician’s puffed-up metaphor. The drug lords in Mexico continue to gain power and control in that nation, as the Mexican military has tried and failed to break them. Soon 25,000 people will have died in the Mexican “La Violencia,” the name Colombians gave their own narco-nightmare the last decade. The cartels are armed with sophisticated weapons and equipment, and are capable of observing American law enforcement along the border as well as the law enforcement that observes them. If this were going on along the east coast of America, does anyone think that Washington would be quite so cavalier, let alone bring suit against the state that tried to do something about it?
President Obama needs to make a pronounced public commitment to breaking Mexico’s drug cartels, through whatever means necessary. With his preemption suit he has told Arizona to back off and let him solve the problem; very well, Mr. President, solve it. This is a serious national security issue and it requires a serious response. If the cartels continue to gain control in Mexico the problem will further deteriorate; the suffering on both sides of the border will grow far greater; and Arizona will again seek its own measures.
Far greater too will be Arizona’s economic challenges if the massive tax bomb currently wired in Washington is actually detonated next year. If anyone ever wondered what would happen with a leftist president and a liberal Democrat Congress running the country, now you know: massive increases in spending and deficits and the promise of massive new tax burdens to pay for it all.
Here is my promise to the people of Arizona and America: the first piece of legislation I will introduce will be for what we will call the 20/15 solution. This bill will first freeze all executive branch and congressional pay increases. Then, every year that non-defense spending is not reduced by at least 20 percent, executive and congressional pay, including staff, will be cut by 15 percent. So it’s simple: either the deficit goes down or their salaries go down. It’s up to them.
Nancy Pelosi is currently making $223,500 so for her that would mean a $33,525 cut the first year, if by some unhappy chance she remains as Speaker of the House. The president makes $400,000, so he’s looking at a $60,000 cut if he refuses to do his job; top staffers make anywhere from $125,000 to $180,000, so the senior players are looking at an initial cut up to $27,000. If necessary we could build in some additional “progressivity,” ensuring the “rich” among Washington’s political elite will take the biggest percentage reductions in salary. The Democrats in Washington would have to love that, wouldn’t they?
After long years of failure to control federal spending, it’s time we took a different, straightforward approach. If spending isn’t cut, the salaries of those responsible will be. The 20/15 solution will bring the budget to balance by 2015. We can count on that.
Arizonans are not so demanding. We ask for the rule of law and we are given a cynical lawsuit. The people seek jobs and economic opportunity and they’re handed massive government growth and tax increases instead. Barack Obama wanted to bring change to America; come November, the American people may well bring it to him.
Ben Quayle, 33, is a lawyer and small businessman running for Congress in Arizona’s 3rd District.