The GOP's immigration tussle
By Jonah Goldberg
Published: Friday, June 28, 2013, 8:57 p.m.
I don't know how Democrats do it.
The immigration reform proposal is tearing the Republican Party to pieces. Poor Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., once the golden boy of the tea party and the conservative movement, is being treated like a guy who wants to leave a gang but must submit to a group beating first.
But Rubio is simply the latest javelin catcher in the right's immigration Olympiad. Attention soon will shift to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. House conservatives are poised to block out the sun with arrows aimed at him if he moves the bill without a majority of GOP support.
While the GOP increasingly looks like the fight scene in the movie “Anchorman,” the Democrats under New York Sen. Charles Schumer's leadership look like Snow White's dwarfs, whistling while they work.
The most vocal critic on the left has been independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who plausibly argues that the bill will disproportionately hurt the unskilled and undereducated poor.
Sanders' support was bought with a $1.5 billion youth jobs program buried in the new 1,190-page revised bill.
One reason the Democrats are having an easy time is that their stakeholders can cut deals and the constituencies will go along. Organized labor will get its carve-outs from the Democrats, as will business groups eager to work on a bipartisan basis.
Contrary to popular perception, the GOP is the far more populist and grassroots party these days, and the troops are not in a mood to follow orders.
Democrats are usually the ones decrying the pernicious global trends hampering prosperity for the working poor and middle class. And yet, their biggest priority is a bill that will accelerate those trends.
Last week, when the Congressional Budget Office issued a report that the immigration bill would increase gross national product per capita by 0.2 percent and slightly reduce the deficit in 20 years, Democrats hailed it as a vindication.
It fell to Republicans to note that the same CBO report assumed the legislation would reduce immigration by a mere 25 percent and would very modestly reduce average wages in the first decade.
Polling shows that there's a huge amount of consensus about what to do on immigration. If people here illegally meet strict requirements — pay back taxes, a fine, etc. — support for a path to citizenship is high, even among Republicans. Without those requirements, it plummets.
The same goes for border security. Convince people that this is a one-time thing and not a replay of the amnesty under Ronald Reagan, and most conservatives are eager to put this issue behind us.
The hitch is that the right is just not in a trusting mood. Conservatives feel, with ample justification, that Washington, including the GOP, has been betraying them — by accident or on purpose — for too long.
I can understand that completely. What baffles me is why rank-and-file Democrats don't feel the same way.
Jonah Goldberg is the author of “The Tyranny of Clichés,” now on sale in paperback.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Fleury, Crosby lead Penguins to victory over Sharks at Consol
- Kovacevic: Keeping faith in Letang is simple
- Steelers rookie RB Bell gets respect from teammates, foes alike
- Penguins notebook: Injury keeps Malkin out against Sharks
- Steelers lineman Adams gets 2nd chance to start
- Steelers notebook: Woodley practices but unsure where he’ll play
- White Oak man jailed for exposure, intimidation issues
- South Side man qualifies for ‘biggest fantasy football event ever’ this weekend in Vegas
- Mon Valley to benefit from conservation grants
- County takes lead on Monsour demolition
- Clairton students receive care packages