Even in House Judiciary, Jobs

By December 28, 2010Briefly Legal, Economy, Taxation

Hugh Hewitt interviews incoming House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) on the committee’s priorities in the 112th Congress. The committee has jurisdiction over immigration, which takes up much of the conversation. Still, jobs will be the focus, Smith says:

LS: I…we’ll have to see. Again, that, like the other issues you’ve mentioned, that’ll be sometime in the future. The priority is going to be on job creation. And let me come back to that for a minute.

HH: Please.

LS: Because you had this entire flurry of bills that were passed in the waning days of this lame duck session. And not a single bill was passed, after all that flurry of activity, after all those days of voting, after all the posturing by the Democrats, not a single bill that was passed is actually going to create new jobs. And I think the American people wanted us to create jobs, they want us to rein in government spending, address deficit reduction, get our economy under control where it’s growing again. And so all the hearings that we have on the Judiciary Committee, and the immigration subcommittee is just one of my five subcommittees, but every single subcommittee is going to be having hearings and oversight on creating jobs. And that’s why we’ll have an oversight. For instance, on the immigration subcommittee, on e-verify. And that’s the system whereby employers can very quickly in a few seconds determine whether it’s likely somebody who has applied for a job is legal in the country or not. That’s why we’re going to have a hearing about the Obama administration’s almost abandoned worksite enforcement. It’s down 70% in the last two years as far as the efforts by the administration to actually make sure that illegal workers are not working in the United States, and that we save and protect those jobs for American citizens. So anything that has to do with jobs that we can save or create for American citizens, and for legal immigrants alike, that will be our focus on the Judiciary Committee.

We get what the Congressman is talking about: The high-profile issues of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the 9/11 Zadroga Health and Compensation Act, and the START agreement with Russia were not jobs bills. The Senate failed to act on the Miscellaenous Trade Benefits legislation, a proven jobs creator.

But the tax package, which prevented higher taxes hammering employers, and the reauthorization of the AMERICA Competes Act and its R&D and educational provisions, will do much to improve the climate for employment. The lameduck session of Congress did do some good.

Not every worthy piece of legislation has to deal with jobs, and at times, invoking “jobs, jobs, jobs” starts to look strained, no matter how popular the political theme is.

If the economy is the priority, the best thing the House Judiciary Committee could do would be to ensure the rule of law and prevent any worsening of the damaged and expensive civil justice system that burdens employers. Chairman-elect Smith’s emphasis on oversight hearings fits right in with those goals.

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