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A Pause in Austerity and H-1B Visas


Do I see rats leaving a sinking ship?

The Center for American Progress, a pillar of the Democratic establishment in Washington is walking away from the broad negotiations aimed at reaching a “grand bargain,” the pursuit of a deficit-reduction deal that has dominated the political agenda since mid-2010 [Huffington Post].

The timing of this US announcement is soon after the International Monetary Fund admits that it was wrong about Greek debt which was the model for justifying austerity in order to bail out reckless investments by European banks.  Yet, the fears of “systemic contagion” across Europe sound a lot like the goal of former US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner “foaming the runway” for US banks with a government bailout after our mortgage crash.  Will the change of heart on the US “grand bargain” persuade leading Democrats like US Senator Patty Murray to stop worshiping Larry Summers and stop the proposed cuts to Social Security and Medicare?  Are there any Democrats in the US Congress that have clearly and loudly opposed cuts to Social Security and Medicare?  Some leading Democrats are even voting down Food Stamps!

Another slight of hand on jobs:  Marco Rubio might change his mind on “a path to citizenship.”  So, immigration reform was never really about helping hard-working Mexicans, nor about Dream Act Youth going to college, nor about uniting gay couples.  The veils are falling.  Instead, immigration reform was always about creating a tsunami of H-1B visas.

This influx of additional workers comes when the National Institutes of Health (NIH) are planning for serious losses in funding.  The linked article indicates that the NIH might not itself lose jobs, but you can expect serious problems at research universities that rely on federal funding.  I won’t defend the details of those numbers.  For example, the funds/number of grants looks rather high, and maybe our country should better consider the science job market when awarding grants that depend on hiring graduate students and Post-Docs.

Maybe the Democrats in the US Congress view these H-1B visas as “tools” for President Obama’s budget cuts.  When Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker first mentioned his proposed cuts to schools and municipalities, he promised “tools.”  He gave them new laws to help the local leaders undercut unions so the schools and municipalities could better live within their newly reduced budgets.  Maybe the Democrats in the US Congress (and President Obama) view all these H-1B visas as tools to help faculty at research universities better live within the increasingly severe budget cuts.  H-1B visas depress wages, promote a more coercive workplace, and facilitate age discrimination.  The “tools” for local governments also took money out of local economies.  The H-1B visas will discourage US students, especially the good students.  The image of a bad job market will take long to recover if the job market changes.

At least science students are now receiving a consistent message in that the federal sequester greatly reduces the opportunities to train in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), and the proposed tsunami of H-1B visas at the same time makes it clear that the US Congress (especially Democrats) and corporations only want the cheapest labor possible.  So the truly “best and brightest” are directed to other careers.  They may avoid the age discrimination promoted by H-1B visas.

I was heartened to watch this video clip where Cenk Uygur questions whether Democrats really, truly feel pressure from the Left in the same way at Republicans feel from the corporate funded Tea Party.

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