Thursday, February 22, 2018

Alexander Touts Tax Bill, Offers Proposals on Guns and Immigration

Senator Says Trump Could Be "Nixon-to-China" if he revived the 2013 "Gang of Eight" bipartisan immigration bill.

Posted By on Thu, Feb 22, 2018 at 12:03 PM

click to enlarge Sen. Alexander makes a point about the complicated nature pf a FAFSA form for student aid. - JB
  • JB
  • Sen. Alexander makes a point about the complicated nature pf a FAFSA form for student aid.
Though his primary stated purpose in two Memphis speeches this week was to tout what he believes are the advantages of the tax bill passed late last year, U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander devoted considerable time as well to prospects for legislation on other subjects.

Speaking to the East Memphis Rotary Club at the Racquet Club on Wednesday, Alexander issued a mock apology in advance to any member who might have heard him deliver essentially “the same speech” the previous night at the Economics Club of Memphis.

But, whatever was the case in his Tuesday night address to the Economics Club, the Senator seemed less inclined on Wednesday to elaborate on the already enacted tax legislation than to suggest approaches to the unresolved and still festering issues of gun violence and immigration.

Both in an interview previous to his talk to the Rotarians and in his speech itself, Alexander outlined a four-step approach to deal with the gun issue, still dominating public commentary and news reports after a troubled youth’s use of a legally acquired AR-15 automatic rifle to massacre 17 students at a high school in Parkland, Florida.

The Senator called for more and stronger background checks on the purchase of firearms, endorsed President Trump’s proposed executive order banning “bump stocks,” which transform semi-automatic weapons into rapid-firing de facto machine guns, expressed a need to increase the number of counselors in schools, and proposed a serious upgrading in the identification and treatment of individuals with mental health issues.

“It’s not an easy problem to solve,” he acknowledged.

On another difficult issue, Alexander said that President Trump “could be Nixon-to-China” on immigration if Trump chose to resuscitate the 2013 “Gang of Eight” bipartisan bill that handily passed the Senate but was never brought to the House floor.

That 2013 bill would, among other things, have provided a pathway to legal status for illegal immigrants while strengthening barriers to illegal entry on the nation’s southern border with Mexico and increasing the number of border control agents, imposed the E-Verify system to monitor employments, enacted DREAM Act provisions for children brought into the United States by illegal-alien parents, strengthened penalties for violation, enforced tax-collection measures on newcomers, and created a pathway to citizenship for selected immigrants.

Alexander cited the presumed stimulant effects of the new tax bill on business and industrial expansion and on what he saw as weage increases for workers. The Senator went so far as to express a disbelief that the bill’s enormous tax cuts would increase debt, expressing hope in an ongoing expansion rate of 3 percent in the Gross National Product.

On the health front, Alexander said he was sponsoring legislation designed to decrease health-insurance costs by as much as 20 percent for those Americans who are a poor fit, because of income factors or other circumstances, for advantages under the Affordable Care Act. And he held out hope for advances in medical care under the Twenty-First Century Cures Act passed in December.

Asked by a Rotarian about Russian interference with the American election process, Alexander commented briefly on his belief that Russia had indeed so tampered with our election and seemed to express confidence in ongoing investigations in the Senate and by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller.

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