Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III will say anything to stop immigration reform.
At USA Today, Sen. Sessions (R-AL) desperately tried to tie immigration reform to the growing concern over income inequality. He argues — again — that reform is bad for American workers and the US economy. Sessions and his anti-immigrant restrictionist friends had their say in the Senate last year, when that chamber held a series of hearings and markups before passing S. 744 with a 68-32 supermajority (and without Sessions). But apparently he continues to try and weigh in on the debate, reportedly by convening strategy sessions with House members and periodically publishing diatribes such as today’s.
But frankly, it is laughable that Sessions would try to paint himself as any kind of defender of American workers. No one in their right mind would believe Sessions cares at all about income equality. The Senator seems to be forgetting that he is a public official with a voting record that completely belies everything he claims to be about re: immigration reform. In his op-ed, Sessions claims that he’s trying to protect the middle class against the plutocratic tyranny that would be immigration reform. But let’s see:
- In February 2012, Sessions voted no on ending a filibuster that was preventing the extension of the payroll tax cut. Without the extension, working families faced a $1000 tax increase.
- Sessions voted no on the American Jobs Act, which would have created jobs by investing in infrastructure repair.
- Sessions voted no on the Buffet rule, which would have raised taxes on the rich in order to cut the deficit.
- During the last few sessions of Congress, he voted against the Middle Class Tax Cut Act, the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act, the Paycheck Fairness Act, Wall Street Reform, The Unemployment Compensation Extension Act, and twice against the Stop the Student Loan Interest Rate Hike Act.
- Sessions has spent his career crusading against food stamps, suggesting that opposition to cutting them is “immoral” and mocking those why rely on the program by asking “why don’t we just pay for your clothes?”
- During the recent 2014 negotiations for unemployment benefits, Sessions — as he has in the past — opposed an extension.
So how, exactly, does Sen. Sessions get to claim the mantle for being a champion of American workers?
Ezra Klein, formerly of the Washington Post, really said it best last year:
[Sessions’] record shows no consistent opposition to bills that primarily benefit business owners or the wealthy, or that empower labor to wrest more economic gains from capital. It shows no sustained interest in the fortunes of the least fortunate. And Sessions has rejected policies that would help the unemployed get work and fought policies that would ease the pain of unemployment.
Sessions has framed his opposition to immigration reform in the terms of progressive populism. But the rest of his record isn’t that of a progressive populist. And the simple fact is that if Sessions wants to help low-wage, unskilled workers, there are certainly more direct ways to do it than current and future immigrants…
But Sessions doesn’t want to do any of that. He just wants to kill immigration reform. It’s almost as if his opposition to the bill isn’t really about poor Americans at all.