Valdosta Daily Times


February 2, 2014

The Business of Legislation

Issues that could affect the economy this year


VALDOSTA — Immigration

Immigration reform has the distinction of being an issue that politicians of all stripes acknowledge needs to be addressed. It’s not a question of yes or no, but rather how?

Republicans favor increased border security and a piecemeal approach to reform. For their part, Democrats seek an overhaul of the whole system, offering a path to citizenship for workers.

“Sort of the beauty about legislation is, particularly comprehensive legislation like, for example, the Farm Bill, not everyone gets what they want, but everyone gets something.”

But with both sides so far apart on both implementation and outcome of immigration reform, the odds of a compromise are slim.

“There’s not enough payoff for Republicans to look at immigration reform as anything but negative to them in the long term.”

A lack of any reform would leave things where they are now. In recent years, some agribusinesses have had trouble harvesting crops due to a shortage of laborers.

“That would do one of two things. You’d either increase agriculture prices here because there’s not enough supply, or it would increase imports into the U.S.”

Debt Ceiling

The last few years have seen an ever-escalating debt-ceiling standoff, culminating in a 16-day government shutdown this past October. While some Republican senators and House members have reinforced their stances that debt-ceiling raises should come with conditions, Yehl doesn’t see it going to the extent of a shutdown.

“I think they’re going to go to the brink again, once or twice, but I don’t think they’re going to, as they say, pull the trigger. For one, this is an election year. I don’t see them going all that far down the road, but I do think there will be some gamesmanship on the debt ceiling.

“The realization is today that we are in a global economy. The United States is still a pretty big player. ... If there’s some thought that the United States isn’t going to pay its debts ... (the system) is going to be impacted and not in a positive way. When one of your largest economies decides it’s

going to default on its debts, that’s not a real confidence booster.”

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