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March 07, 2016
Morning Jolt
... with Jim Geraghty

Farewell, Nancy Reagan. Those of us who grew up in the 1980s had no idea how good we had it.

Guess Which Presidential Candidate Is a Big Fan of EB-5 Visas?

Remember the EB-5 immigration program? Congress created the EB-5 program in 1990 to stimulate investment by foreign investors. To qualify, a foreigner must invest at least $1 million, or $500,000 in either a rural area or an area with high unemployment. The investment must “create or preserve at least 10 full-time jobs for qualifying U.S. workers within two years.” The government makes 10,000 EB-5 visas available each year, with 3,000 administered through Regional Centers, government-approved organizations that aim to help economic growth in a particular area.

A few years back, three out of every four visa recipients come from China; now the figure is closer to 85 percent.

The program came up as a potential scandal in Virginia’s gubernatorial race in 2013, because for a while Virginia state authorities asked if Terry McAuliffe’s latest investment idea was a disguised “visa-for-sale” scheme:

Even if the company has investors “lined up”, I maintain serious concerns about the establishment of an EB-5 center in general, and most specifically based on this company. Not only based on (lack of) management expertise, (lack of) market preparation, etc. but also still can’t get my head around this being anything other than a visa-for-sale scheme with potential national security implications that we have no way to confirm or discount. . . . This “feels” like a national political play instead of a Virginia economic development opportunity. I am not willing to stake Virginia’s reputation on this at this juncture.

Guess who’s using the Eb-5 immigration program to fund his own development projects?

Trump Bay Street is a 50-story luxury rental apartment building being built by Kushner Companies, whose chief executive officer, Jared Kushner, is married to Trump’s daughter Ivanka. It will have an outdoor pool, indoor golf simulator and sweeping views of Lower Manhattan; it adjoins an existing high rise condo, Trump Plaza Residence. The firm that was hired to seek investors, US Immigration Fund, is run by Florida developer Nicholas Mastroianni, who announced a partnership last year with a Trump golf course in Jupiter, Florida.

The Government Accountability Office, the investigative branch of Congress, found last year in a general report about the EB-5 program that many applications contained a high risk of fraud, and discovered cases of counterfeit documentation. State Department officials told the GAO that there is “no reliable method to verify the source of the funds of petitioners.”

Giresi of US Immigration Fund says his firm uses “very stringent compliance programs” with a “great amount of due diligence” to look into the background of prospective investors, including hiring private investigators.

Senator Charles Grassley, a Republican who is chairman of the judiciary committee, last month cited a memo from Homeland Security saying that EB-5 visa holders do not clear the same hurdles as other immigrants, like proof of education and work qualifications. Senator Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, said at the hearing that while he has supported EB-5 over the years, “If the program is to continue, it must be reformed.”

But don’t worry, immigration hawks. There’s no way Trump is conning you. He means everything he says to you -- he’s just offering a line, spin, and empty promises to everyone else.

A Rare March Story about North Carolina That Isn’t About College Basketball

North Carolina holds its presidential primary March 15. Polling indicates Trump enjoys a modest lead, although all of the polling still includes Ben Carson.

Republicans in the state are . . . if not quite panicking, seeing a potential wipeout ahead:

But the poll also found, in a hypothetical matchup with Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, that Trump would lose North Carolina -- a key battleground state -- 47 percent to 41 percent, if the general election were held now.

If that’s the story in November, Gov. Pat McCrory’s re-election bid could be imperiled, said Jennifer Duffy, senior editor at the Washington-based Cook Political Report.

Even without Trump at the top of the GOP ticket, Duffy said Republican McCrory’s battle with Democrat Roy Cooper, now the state’s attorney general, is already shaping up to be possibly the closest gubernatorial race in the country.

 “If Trump hurts a little bit, that hurts McCrory a lot,” said Duffy, who specializes in analyzing races for governor and U.S. Senate. “How much can (Trump) lose (North Carolina) by and a down-ballot person still survive? Even two points can be a problem.”

For what it’s worth, some polls have Trump narrowly ahead of Hillary.

As Ed Morrissey observes in his new book, Going Red, North Carolina is one of Republican success stories, a state that was drifting purple and then Republicans learned, adapted, and won big:

Unlike some other states, turnout actually increased in North Carolina from 2008 to 2012 -- and, unlike in other high-turnout states, the voters’ enthusiasm didn’t translate into good news for Obama. In 2008, Obama had won North Carolina by less than 15,000 out of 4.31 million votes. Four years later, North Carolina cast 4.5 million votes in the presidential race, but the difference went mainly to the Republicans; Romney won almost 142,000 more votes than McCain had in the previous race, while Obama only added about 36,000 votes.

In addition to Governor McCrory and all major statewide offices, U.S. Sen. Richard Burr is up for reelection this year, as well has a U.S. House delegation that splits 10-3.

What kind of coattails would Donald Trump have?

We’re Doomed. So Stand for Your Principles.

Over in Roll Call, Alex Roarty writes:

As the GOP presidential primary season nears its halfway point, Trump’s Republican opponents increasingly say the only way to stop him from capturing the nomination -- and, in their eyes, dooming the party to civil war and an electoral wipe out -- is at a contested convention. But voters like Najvar are a potent reminder that even if anti-Trump forces win in Cleveland, they could lose the larger war this fall.

Block Trump from the nomination at the convention, and the former reality TV star’s supporters might feel so cheated that they refuse to vote for the Republican nominee in the general election. In a close race, even a small number defections could prove fatal.

Sure . . .but what exactly do you think #NeverTrump is? In that CNN poll that showed Trump way ahead among Republicans, 35 percent said they would “definitely not” support him and 13 percent said the would “probably not” support him. There’s a certain percentage of primary voters who will only vote for Trump; there’s a percentage that will never vote for Trump. There’s no way to square that circle.

Every vote has to be earned; if a Trump supporter thinks Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio won’t improve the country and won’t do anything for them, they’re free to stay home. You can’t make them vote for a candidate they don’t think is any good. But the reverse is true: if a Cruz or Rubio supporter thinks Trump is a dangerous, erratic demagogue serving no cause higher than his own ego, insisting Trump won the nomination fair and square -- with the help of overwhelming media coverage, as our Stephen Miller points out -- isn’t going to make them sign on for a foul-mouthed vindictive narcissist with no concepts of limitations on state power.

ADDENDA: Over the weekend, Saturday Night Live featured a fake “Racists for Trump” ad:

This is the same program that had Trump host the show a few months ago. Some might see this as a sign that the media will build up Trump and then destroy him. A little while back, I argued that the media is blind to the ways that they already partially insulated him from these attacks:

If Trump wins the nomination, we’re likely to see the national media turn on a dime and start talking about him in the harshest of tones: He’s a racist, he’s a demagogue, he’s a maniac, he’s uninformed. Except . . .  all of these powerful voices have already established Trump as a ubiquitous, delightfully unpredictable, fearless figure who can’t be ignored. If Trump is this repugnant, nasty racist, so undeserving of public office . . .  why is he hosting Saturday Night Live and joking around with Fallon and Colbert? If he’s so self-evidently unsuited for the presidency . . . why has the national media spent a full year dissecting his every move? If he’s such a vulgar embodiment of reality-television narcissism, why the soft-focus profiles of his lovely family? If his economic plans are so wildly unrealistic and reckless, why has the business media written those glowing profiles about his keen mind and eye for opportunities?


Delegate Math: A Trump Win Might Not Add Up
Donald Trump Can’t Stop Slandering American Warriors
At CPAC, Many Attendees Were Spooked by He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named
A Nuclear-Armed Trump?
Wishful Thinking Has Prevented Effective Threat Reduction in North Korea
Protect Them Both, Love Them Both
The Big Bang
By Roy M Griffis
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