Senator Grassley vs. The Wall Street Journal's H-1B Boosterism
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Sen. Grassley and the Wall Street Journal had an interesting debate earlier this month. The imbroglio erupted soon after Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) tried to amend the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations bill with a $3,500 visa fee increase for H-1B visas. [Senate Bill Could Triple H-1B Visa Fees Paid By Employers October 24, 2007 ]The Wall Street Journal strongly criticized the two senators, and even went as far as calling them "liberal protectionists."[The Grassley Visa Tax, WSJ, November 2, 2007;]

Grassley didn't take the WSJ attack lying down. He fired back at the WSJ with a letter to the editor six days later. In it, he said that the WSJ's cavalier attitude was a "smack in the face to the American worker." Grassley's letter was quite unprecedented and it was quite a shock that the WSJ published it. [Investing in America, Making Things Worse, WSJ, November 8, 2007]

The $3,500 fee was to be used to fund a scholarship program for U.S. students pursuing tech and science-related degrees. However well intentioned, the senators were trying to solve a problem that never existed in the first place. The two senators are stuck in the paradigm that there is a shortage of science and technology students when we are actually producing more graduates than the market is creating jobs. Having said that, I still enjoyed seeing the amendment because it stuck a finger in the eyes of the cheap labor lobby. A fee of $3,500 is nothing compared to the wages employers save by hiring H-1Bs, but that didn't stop the corporate shills at the WSJ from screaming bloody murder. They would probably complain if the visa fee was raised by one cent.

This story could have been an epic confrontation but instead had an anti-climatic ending. Soon after Grassley's op-ed was published the Senate axed the amendment,[Congress Axes Amendment To Triple H-1B Visa Fees ,, November 7, 2007 ] and the controversy died It's Business as usual in the Journal and in the Senate!

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