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If Nobody’s Happy, it Must Be a Good Deal

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We all criticize politicians for being too partisan, so it’s important to recognize their efforts when they find a way to compromise on an important issue. As Jeralyn talked about yesterday, Gov. Bill Owens finally called the much-threatened special session to address illegal immigration, although it came after a compromise measure that didn’t make anybody very happy. As the Rocky Mountain News reports:

Dick Lamm’s phone rang about 5 a.m. Wednesday. It was KHOW-AM radio show host Peter Boyles, berating him live on the air. “What are you doing?” Boyles demanded, according to Lamm. Boyles was among a chorus of critics accusing Lamm of betraying the anti-illegal immigration movement by making a back-door deal with the group’s foes a day earlier… …[Governor Bill Owens] told Lamm on Tuesday that he was not pleased, Lamm said. Owens said the three were “undercutting what he was trying to do,” Lamm said. Lamm theorizes Owens wanted to use the ballot initiative as leverage to force Democratic lawmakers to pass a larger set of bills. “The governor is under a lot of pressure from the Republican Party. Nothing is going well for the Republican party except the immigration issue,” Lamm said. Owens said he just wants to give voters a say on Initiative 55. “Over 40,000 Coloradans signed the petition and now feel disenfranchised,” he said. He has pointed out that the three leaders of the compromise plan are Democrats. Romanoff said that anger over the Lamm/Peña deal was expected. “If we’re going to hold out for making everyone happy, we’re going to be here until hell freezes or Washington acts,” he said.

Romanoff makes a very salient point, because if real movement is going to be made on the issue of illegal immigration, it’s going to take a proposal that nobody is completely happy with. The art of compromise, as the saying goes, is when a deal is made that both sides are a little disappointed with (okay, so I butchered the saying, but you get the point). The agreed-upon measure would discourage employers from hiring illegal immigrants by prohibiting them from claiming wages of $600 or more paid to illegal workers as a tax deduction; require a 6 percent state income tax to be withheld from an illegal immigrant’s wages when an IRS form 1099 has been filed; and require that state and local government agencies verify the immigration status of adults applying for certain taxpayer-provided benefits. Is it the best plan that could have been formed? Maybe not, but it’s a start, and it’s good to see that both sides can work together to find something agreeable in the middle.

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