The lame duck session of Congress should be focusing on the nation’s core business – passing a budget and deciding whether our tax rates will stay where they are beginning in January or increase for some or all of us. However, the Democrats seem focused instead on more peripheral matters that are of special interest to their special interest constituencies – namely the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” (for the gay component of the Democratic base) and enactment of the “DREAM Act” (for the Hispanic component).
Before the election, the Democrats included both of these left-liberal agenda items in a proposed Defense Appropriations bill. The bill failed. Now, the Dems have decided to push both as stand-alone legislation.
To get the ball rolling on reconsideration of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a two-day hearing on December 2 and 3 regarding the Pentagon’s report on the impact of repealing the policy. To accommodate the Democrats, Defense Secretary Gates moved up the report’s release date by a day, to Nov. 30. This gives committee members an additional day to review the report. However, a two or three-day review period is still insufficient when the issue is changing basic military policy. So is a two-day hearing.
Fortunately, it seems unlikely that don’t ask, don’t tell will be repealed. Lindsey Graham, a pretty good vote counter, told Chris Wallace today that he doesn’t believe “there’s anywhere near the votes to repeal DADT on the Republican side.” Graham predicted that “in the lame-duck session DADT isn’t going anywhere.”
The Dream Act probably won’t go anywhere either. In all likelihood, Harry Reid is pushing the legislation not because he thinks it will pass but rather as a thank you to the Hispanic voters who helped re-elect him, and because he wants to keep Hispanic voters stoked up with anti-Republican sentiment.
Republicans should oblige Reid. There are, in my view, individuals encompassed by the DREAM Act for whom a good case for citizenship can be made. But, as David Frum shows, the DREAM Act paints with too broad of a brush and would almost certainly become the vehicle for fraud and abuse. Moreover, the Act would likely act as a magnet for future illegal immigration. In Frum’s words:
DREAM stands as an ongoing invitation, forever and ever. DREAM’s benefits extend not only to people who happen NOW to be illegally present inside the United States. DREAM’s benefits will be extended to all those who may enter illegally in future. DREAM’s message goes forth to Indonesia, to Egypt, to India, to China, to anywhere where teenagers find $7 an hour more attractive than $7 a day: come now and come early. Don’t waste your time acquiring an education before you arrive. We’ll subsidize your education right here in America.
The Democrats’ decision to put repeal of don’t ask, don’t tell and the DREAM Act on the front-burner of the lame duck session provides a timely reminder of how grateful we should be that their power in the new Congress will be so markedly diminished.