Monday, July 8, 2013

Wednesday Thoughts

At NRO, I offer some thoughts about the House GOP's strategy for immigration reform.  The caucus is due to meet on Wednesday to discuss this issue.  Here are a couple of the points I make:
The Senate legislation won’t “fix” the nation’s immigration system. Like Reagan’s 1986 amnesty, it provides legalization before enforcement. It is larded with loopholes for executive discretion and abuse. It creates huge new government programs (such as the Bureau of Immigration and Labor Market Research) to oversee the economy. Its guest-worker programs undermine market principles and will put new pressures on the middle class. It will not end illegal immigration.
A House “compromise” bill that keeps most of these features would be a very small improvement over the Senate bill. Any plan offering legalization first would basically be saying “In Barack Obama We Trust,” at a time when Americans, in the recent string of scandals, are otherwise running up against new reasons not to.
The Senate bill fixates on “border security,” but border security is not the only point at issue for illegal immigration. Enforcement within the U.S. is crucial; currently, about 40 percent of illegal immigrants are visa-overstayers, a percentage that could grow under the Senate bill because of its increase in the number of temporary visas offered each year. Despite the promises of its supporters, the bill will not end illegal immigration, and it might not even make much of a dent or reduce it at all. The Congressional Budget Office’s most optimistic estimate is that the bill, after all the extra billions that the Corker-Hoeven amendment would send to the border, would cut illegal immigration by a third to a half. That reduced flow could still lead, the CBO implies, to over 7.5 million illegal immigrants in the United States by 2023. That fails the standards professed by Senator Rubio and Senator Schumer. And that number assumes that the promises of enforcement will actually be somewhat realized. There is a very good chance that various provisions — from the fence to the Border Patrol “surge” to E-Verify — could also be put off (witness the Obama administration’s recent decisions to postpone key parts of the health-care law).
Money isn’t everything. Some very large donors may be pushing “comprehensive” immigration reform, but all the money in the world won’t necessarily carry to victory a party without a solid governing philosophy. For a political party, victory at the polls is far more important than vacuuming up donor dollars. Recent electoral history is littered with candidates — from Meg Whitman to Linda McMahon to Rudy Giuliani — who spent big bucks for minimal electoral success. While President Obama significantly outraised Senator John McCain in 2008, this time around Mitt Romney — when individual candidate totals, party funds, and super-PAC spending are accounted for — probably spent about as much as President Obama did. Yet with all those extra hundreds of millions in spending, Governor Romney barely won more votes than Senator McCain and improved on McCain’s share of the popular vote by less than two points and won back two states. And this modest improvement was in an environment much less favorable to Obama than in 2008, which was one of the worst electoral scenarios for the GOP within recent memory.
Lacking a message that addressed some of the central concerns of the economic middle, Republicans struggled with the working and middle classes in 2012. That contributed to the defeat of their presidential nominee and many of their congressional contenders. A Republican candidate can raise a billion dollars in 2016, but without a forward-looking economic policy, conservatives should look forward to more disappointment on November 8, 2016. With its likely downward pressure on wages and economic opportunity for those at the economic middle and margins, the Senate bill could prove a stumbling block for a message of popular economic uplift.
Read the rest here.

No comments:

Post a Comment