Odd things are happening in politics these days — and that is not at all a bad thing.
In a column published over Valentine’s Day weekend, George Will issued a stern warning to his fellow conservatives: Support immigration reform or live with the consequence of slow economic growth. In supporting broad-ranging immigration reform in the name of a faster-growing economy, Will said it was time to put aside the Obama-bashing and focus on what really matters, which is providing entrepreneurial opportunities for a group of immigrants who have the ability to contribute to a new century of American prosperity.
He scoffed at massive border protection expenses and mass deportations as viable solutions, citing an Economist article that remarked how the ultimate consequence of the Sept. 11 attacks was the forced return of Mexican house painters in order to make sure a group of mostly Saudis did not strike again.
At about the same time that the ink was drying on Will’s column, U.S. Rep. Lois Capps of Santa Barbara joined Democratic colleagues from Silicon Valley and Sonoma County to co-sponsor big changes to income limits under the Affordable Care Act. Under the proposed Fair Access to Health Care bill, Covered California subsidies would extend to families earning up to $122,403 in Santa Barbara County or $109,856 in San Luis Obispo County. Currently, a family of four making up to $94,200 qualifies for premium tax credits, and that figure doesn’t adjust to account for the broad differences in cost of living around the country.
It came as a bit of a shock to read that three stalwart members of the Democratic caucus were conceding that health reform has flaws big enough to require a congressional fix. But what is encouraging is that these representatives are willing to look at major reforms.
One of the biggest benefits of enacting the proposed fixes would be to allow budding technology entrepreneurs to quit their jobs and start new businesses while still being able to afford health coverage for their families. For the tech-heavy Tri-Counties, that could be a real bonus.
Over the past decade, we’ve seen the economy and jobs take a back seat to partisan politics. Movement on immigration reform and fixing the Affordable Care Act are perhaps the political version of the “green shoots” that former Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke talked about in the early stages of economic recovery. Let’s hope such initiatives continue to grow.