Speaker Ryan Defends His H-2B Pink-Slip Plan For Up To 200,000 Blue-Collar Voters

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

House Speaker Paul Ryan is still downplaying his controversial H-2B legislation, which will pink-slip up to 200,000 more blue-collar Americans during the 2016 election year.

“There’s one provision that I think has been so misconstrued… which is the H-2B visa program,” he told radio-host Hugh Hewitt Dec. 21.

He’s still low-balling the program, which his 2016 omnibus legislation quadruples in size, up from 66,000 foreign workers a year, up to a maximum of 264,000 foreign workers per year. “This is a very small provision that was passed in the Homeland Security Appropriations bill last July,” he told Hewitt.

“According to the Congressional Budget Office, it would result in less than 10,000 temporary workers coming to America next year,” he told radio host Bill Bennett Dec. 22.

Press aides to Ryan have not released the CBO report that claims his legislation will only bring in 10,000 foreign workers.

“Speaker Ryan is simply wrong,” responded immigration lawyer John Miano.

“This is a typical lobbyist-written provision designed to obscure what it is doing,” he said. “It is a maximum theoretical quadrupling of H-2B workers but the way it is written it is unlikely that the number could actually reach that high. However, it is a minimum doubling of the number of those workers… it is much higher than [what] Speaker Ryan claimed,” hr told Breitbart News.

Ryan is blaming the media for the resulting uproar, which will likely continue into 2016, even though the GOP’s base has repeatedly shown in public opinion polls — and in its backing for Donald Trump — that the vast majority of voters oppose the high-immigration/low-wage strategy preferred by the GOP’s business donors.

“There has been so much hyperbole about this one provision pinging around the Internet, but that’s the problem with omnibus appropriations,” Ryan told Bennett. “Big legislation leads to lots of confusion, lots of misinformation. It doesn’t quadruple the [H-2B] program,” he said.

Ryan is also passing the buck back to the committee, even though he ran the 2016 omnibus negotiations and delegated most authority to the appropriations committees. The H-2B legislation ” received unanimous Republican votes in the committee. It’s been sitting out there in the light of day since July,” he told Hewitt.

“It’s a one-year provision. It’s a very small provision, which was passed in the Appropriations Committee in July, with unanimous Republican votes,” he told Bennett.

Ryan, who describes himself as a free-market advocate, has repeatedly justified the H-2B program which allows employers to hire cheap labor outside the United States for work lasting up to 10 months in the United States. The program puts U.S. workers at a huge competitive disadvantage against guest-workers, because the Americans need higher wages to pay the higher cost of living and of raising children in the United States.

The H-2B program also allows companies to cut the wages paid to full-time American workers who supervise the migrant workers at landscaping jobs, at resorts, hotels, and other workplaces.

Ryan justified the cheap-labor program to Hewitt, saying;

For those industries that have work shortages like certain industries that are seasonal, seafood processing in Chesapeake Bay, seafood processing industry in Maine, the tourism industry in northern states or the nursing industry in northern states. These are businesses last year that couldn’t find American workers, and wanted to bring the returning workers who are seasonal back so that their businesses didn’t shut down.

He repeated the same claim on Bennett’s radio show. “The reason that this was passed, is because there was some seasonal surge jobs that they can’t find local workers to fill, like the seafood packaging industry in Chesapeake Bay,” he said.

In fact, wages for American blue-collar workers have been flat for decades, amid a high annual inflow of foreign workers. Each year, roughly 4 million Americans turn 18, and face wage-cutting workplace competition from roughly 1 million new migrants and 700,000 temporary workers. In 2013, President Barack Obama brought in 2 million new foreign workers, causing wages to flatline and the stock-market to spike.

Ryan  supports the H-2B program and has backed the “any willing worker” proposals to let U.S. employers hire foreign workers if U.S. workers decline to take jobs at the lower wages offered by employers. In 2013 and 2014, he covertly worked to push through an amnesty-and-cheap-labor “immigration reform bill” until GOP Majority Leader Rep. Eric. Cantor lost his primary in June 2014.

Ryan is still insisting that the GOP won a partial victory in the 2016 omnibus dispute.

When you see the dust settled, when you see that the misinformation leveled with the facts, we got the oil export ban, we got the military what they needed … we got our pro-life riders. We got a lot of good conservative wins—not nearly as many as we wanted—but we got some good conservative wins, and we’re going to pick up and start where we left off next year to keep going.

Democrats, however, claimed total victory in the funding battle. “They wanted big oil so much that they give away the store,” Democratic leader Nancy Ms. Pelosi said repeatedly. “I feel almost jubilant about what is in this appropriations bill,” she added.



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