In his Boston Magazine profile of Sen. Kelly Ayotte, David Bernstein captured Ayotte’s struggle to placate a conservative base and a moderate electorate:
You can think of Kelly Ayotte as a kind of mutant political science experiment—a living test of whether the species Republicanus senatorialis can exist outside the confines of its natural habitats, namely the hard-core conservative states in the South and Midwest. Caught between New Hampshire’s craggy independents and its insurgent conservatives, Ayotte has spent the past year swerving between positions that curry the favor of left and right. She joined hard-right conservatives by opposing a popular gun control measure. She split with them by supporting immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship. In November she voted in favor of gay-rights legislation—the Employment Non-Discrimination Act—while at the same time helping to block highly qualified judicial appointments because of the nominees’ alleged pro-choice stance on abortion.
Ayotte’s latest strategy to split the ideological baby is to join Democrats in a vote to end debate only to then find a reason to oppose the underlying legislation.
She voted for cloture on legislation to expand gun background checks before ultimately opposing the bill. And this week, she voted to end debate on the bill to extend unemployment benefits — only to then throw a wrench in the works.
Ayotte joined Republicans in insisting on additional spending cuts to pay for the extension — and proposed an amendment to make the children of undocumented immigrants ineligible for a critical tax credit. “Many of these children do not even live in the United States or may not even exist,” claimed Ayotte. ThinkProgress corrects the record:
This talking point isn’t new; despite shaky evidence, Republicans have repeatedly used the Child Tax Credit fraud myth to try to shut down this lifeline to mixed-status families. In reality, about 4 million U.S.-born children depend on the Child Tax Credit. Because the credit is meant to keep children out of dire poverty, the immigration status of the parent is considered irrelevant under current law.
Of course, in order to claim this tax credit, undocumented immigrants must pay federal taxes in the first place. Though they cannot reap most of the benefits their tax dollars fund, undocumented families pay about $13 billion a year in payroll taxes, not to mention roughly $10.6 billion in state and local taxes. As undocumented parents are often stuck in the lowest-paid and most-exploited jobs, paying these taxes can be crippling without the refundable Child Tax Credit.
According to the National Council of La Raza, sealing off this credit from undocumented immigrants could endanger about $1,800 in a typical family’s annual income, a sum that could make all the difference to a community disproportionately plagued by poverty, hunger, and health issues.