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Rick Moran


May 24, 2013 - 12:16 am

“Yes we can!” chanted visitors to the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing room when the final vote on comprehensive immigration reform of 13-5 was announced on Monday night.

Actually, we’d rather not.

Forget the particulars of the bill, which are, indeed, bad enough. It is the notion that a large dollop of American society can successfully be “reformed” by the stroke of a pen, with little consequence to this and future generations, that makes “comprehensive” legislation a symbol of bad and imprudent governance.

How bad and imprudent? The law of unintended consequences figures mightily into any comprehensive reform that seeks to predict what a particular situation will be like 5 or 10 years down the road. Anyone who doubts that need only look at Obamacare to realize that almost everything on which the administration sold comprehensive health care reform is falling apart. Also, most of the benefits promised not only will never be realized, but the bill will have created exactly the opposite of the effects intended. Costs of insurance will skyrocket, far fewer people will sign up for insurance via the exchanges than was imagined, and the legislation will have almost doubled in anticipated costs by 2020.

And yet, here we go again. “Comprehensive” immigration reform will hit the Senate floor, and the immigration system, groaning under the 800 pages already written with some promised amendments to come, could be entirely undone by the time the House and Senate are through with their “historic” reformation.

What is the impulse that drives politicians to eschew the common-sense idea of incrementalism — taking on problems piecemeal with carefully considered legislation dealing with one aspect of the question at a time?

Back in December, Jonathan Chait, writing in New York magazine, gave the classic liberal response to the idea of incrementalism as he skewered Senator Marco Rubio ‘s preferred approach to immigration reform:

On immigration, meanwhile, Rubio is carefully positioning himself to oppose any potential deal. He is not coming out and immediately throwing his body in front of the legislative train. Rather, he pleads that we must not try to do everything at once and should instead try to reform immigration “step by step.” Of course, “step by step” is exactly the catchphrase Republicans used to oppose health-care reform. It’s a way of associating yourself with the broadly popular goal of reform while giving yourself cover to oppose any particular bill that has a chance to pass. You’re not against reform, you’re against this reform. It’s too much, too fast.

What Chait failed to add was that incrementalism isn’t dramatic enough or historic enough. There’s no such thing as “too much, too fast.” At heart, liberals like Chait and Obama are drama queens because, let’s face it, it’s so boring to have to get in the trenches and do the scut work of democracy by carefully considering legislation and its consequences before moving on and facing the next challenge. You don’t make history that way, by George, and what’s the point of winning elections if you can’t go down in the history books?

An exaggeration, to be sure, because what the president and many Democrats will say is that it is good, simple, practical politics to wrap everything up in one gigantic package and try to ram it through Congress. It’s just easier to fix big problems this way and the incremental approach would never work because some of what they want would never pass unless there were sweeteners added to buy the votes of politicians not inclined to go along.

But should it be “easier” to try and reform one-sixth of the U.S. economy? Shouldn’t that be extraordinarily hard to accomplish? As hard as Democrats think it was to pass Obamacare — and it didn’t have to be that hard with their huge majority in the House and a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate — it evidently wasn’t hard enough. We will be living with the unintended consequences of the Affordable Care Act for many years to come unless it is repealed.

The fact that we don’t know what those exact consequences will be is reason enough to drop the idea of comprehensive reform of anything. The New America Foundation’s Michael Lind, writing in the Washington Post in 2010:

The second reason comprehensive reform is problematic is that it assumes an ability to foresee problems and fix them in advance — a skill not necessarily found among mere mortals. The longer the time horizon, the greater the hubris of those who claim to be solving problems not just for today but for generations to come.

This overconfidence spans the political spectrum. For example, both liberal environmentalists and conservative deficit hawks rely on sophisticated models to predict dire threats decades away, whether a catastrophic rise in the Earth’s temperature or unsustainable entitlement spending. In each case, even slight changes in the variables can make the remote future look either scary or benign. But when scholarship gives way to advocacy, possible problems generations out are often presented as all-but-certain disasters — avoidable only by immediate action.

The way to avoid this trap is by embracing the lost civic virtue of prudence. Jefferson wisely said, “The same prudence which in private life would forbid our paying our own money for unexplained projects, forbids it in the dispensation of the public moneys.” Jefferson was well aware that imprudence in the use of public monies led to unintended consequences — the bane of good governance. When an exasperated Nancy Pelosi told a reporter in a response to a question of what exactly was in the ACA that “we have to pass the bill so you can find out what is in it,” the speaker of the House was not making idle chatter. She was dead serious, and to this day we still haven’t grasped the enormity of what Congress has wrought in “reforming” health insurance and the health care industry.

As a nation of tinkerers and problem solvers, some can’t resist comprehensive reform because its allure is in the illusion that any problem can be cured if we are bold enough, or have enough courage (or throw enough money at it). What we fail to realize is that solving some problems creates others. The last immigration reform that was passed in 1986 amnestied 3 million illegal aliens and slapped penalties on businesses that knowingly hired illegals. What was never foreseen was that in the intervening 27 years, the number of illegals would triple, crossing the border without documentation would be virtually decriminalized in many places, and businesses would continue to hire illegals because enforcement was lax.

And now, once again, we are ready to pass a slew of provisions to “solve” the problem of immigration that address so many different questions that the overall effect of the legislation on the future of America has become a crap shoot. The idea of incrementally addressing what needs to be fixed by proposing legislation separately to deal with border security, guest workers, streamlining the visa process, and even a “path to citizenship” for those already here illegally will not be attempted largely because adherence to the concept of prudence — once the hallmark of the American constitutional system — has been abandoned in favor of showy, headline-grabbing, history-making law.

When will we ever learn?

Rick Moran is PJ Media's Chicago editor and Blog editor at The American Thinker. He is also host of the"RINO Hour of Power" on Blog Talk Radio. His own blog is Right Wing Nut House.

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Top Rated Comments   
Sure, let's just eradicate our southern border altogether, print up a couple hundred million SNAP cards (with section 8 housing vouchers attached for the sake of streamlining the process) and LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL!! (How do you say let the good times roll in Spanish?) Guess I'll have to get me a copy of Rosetta Stone and learn our new national language!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (39)
All Comments   (39)
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Eliminate the IRS. A flat tax now...the sooner the better (and much, much more fair!) No further action on Immigration without absolute border security FIRST!
Excuse me...I have to go and take a good "comprehensive"!!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
There is no end to the hubris of the elected politician. They know it all and they can accomplish anything regardless of issue and it will be perfect everytime.
Yeah right....
WE do not need immigration reform -- we only need border security and this is not a hard issue. We already have good immigration laws we merely need to set the quotas and do not let anyone come across the border without papers.
Of the 12 million who are already here and are undocumented. This is not a problem either. If they have a job and are self supporting, give them a green card and let them stay, they are taxpayers. Start them on the road to citizenship some ten years from now.
Those who have started a business, same story, they are taxpayers.
Those who have no job and are living on some form of taxpayer money, send them back from whence they came and wish them God Speed.
But the issue that has caused this problem is still the same. We do not have any form of border security. Our border is no better than a sieve and a very course one at that. This is the problem, it is Border Security, that is the issue. Everything is based on people walking across the border without papers.
The democrats conned Reagan into amnesty and said they would secure the border immediately, of course the democrats did what they do best - they lied, just like we all said they were doing. Reagan was a trusting fool and he learned but too late.
Now the democrats are once again trying to feed us this same load of CR#P again. The and answer is not NO, but HELL NO. SECURE THE BORDER NOW AND THEN WE WILL TALK ABOUT SOME FORM OF AMNESTY.
Do not make deals with democraps for all you get is cr#p on your face.....
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
A false excuse: " Citizens cant find jobs because they arent looking" sorry but you are very wrong. The issue is: both citizens and illegals can do the job and very willing to do the job, but the illegals will be hired only! why? because the illegals accept lower wages since they do not pay taxes and they send the money to their home country where the cost of living is so low and what he/she earns here is more than enough for the family back home, however a low wage wont be sufficient for us and our families because we pay taxes and the cost of living is high in the States, if these illegal (or legal) immigrants did not compete with us the employers would have no choice but to pay us fair wages. It is not a rocket science to understand, just see how importing foreign folks is unjust to the citizenry
I urge every American to send messages to these lawmakers, send clear messages through all available communications to them that this is NOT what the American people want, please do not sell us out. Now new illegal will do the job the illegal amnesty worker won't do, and the cycle will continue for ever, we had several amnesties for illegal immigrants before but the problem of the illegal immigration just got worse after each amnesty, it does not make sense to let more immigrants (legal or illegal) in while the citizens are jobless period. Do not sell out your fellow Americans please
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
These idiots know that we had several amnesties for illegal immigrants before but the problem of the illegal immigration just got worse after each amnesty.
An amnesty now will encourage even more illegals to come to America because they know that they will eventually get another amnesty and a path to citizenship, so a new illegal will do the job the illegal amnesty worker won't do, and the cycle will continue for ever a the expense of our economy. CALL YOUR SENATORS
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
We see such nonsense only in America, other countries DEPORT illegal aliens. In most countries, gaining citizenship is next to impossible, even for legal aliens. Almost all other countries require you to remain in the country LEGALLY for at least 10-15 years to just apply for citizenship. No excuses our dear lawmakers because millions of immigrants are a huge burden on the economy, our tax money and American jobs are taken by foreigners while our fellow citizens are jobless and that is very strange.
In many countries (even in western Europe) there is no automatic citizenship at birth, both parents must be citizens (some countries require only one parent must be a citizen), why not in America too?, this is one of the major incentives that make these illegals aliens come and remain in the USA, they want to have at least one kid born here so he/she can bring as many as possible of his relatives to the States through our lax family reunion laws, then these immigrants will be on our welfare for years, a huge burden on our economy if you could imagine their numbers, millions every year .. So even the automatic citizenship at birth is a major issue
Call your representative
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
When you have a wound first you stop the bleeding (secure the borders), then you clean off the impurities (deport the illegals), if you do not do both steps, the bleeding wont stop and the wound will never heal and you will have complications that may lead to your death. CALL YOUR SENATORS
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
20 million legal Americans unemployed or underemployed. A poor jobs report less than a week ago. States buckling under the pressure of paying the bills for services for illegals and these clowns want to hand amnesty out and add 11 or more million to the job market.
Sadly the only people who don’t have any representation anymore are US Citizens. I guess these clowns won’t be happy until they bring the country into complete ruin. The illegal immigration problem will grow,
wages will continue to be depressed and the quality of life will continue to fall (for US Citizens at least). I
wonder what these clowns will say once the states start falling like dominos into bankruptcy. Of course this also tells the people who have been trying to come in legally to kiss off. I will be surprised if America lasts another 50 years. CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVE
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
CALL YOUR SENATORS Quote" Illegals do not pay income tax in many cases because they're paid under the table. Their income levels are such that if they were legalized, they would still not pay income taxes and in fact would probably receive earned income tax credits and other benefits.

They DO collect unemployment and other benefits because they frequently steal real Americans' identities. They receive educational, medical and other benefits for which they do NOT pay. They drive up auto insurance rates because they don't often buy insurance, leaving the rest of us to pay higher premiums for uninsured motorist coverage. My agent told me that I'm paying several hundred dollars a year extra for my coverage simply for that reason. We have hospitals literally shutting down due to the volume of free care tehy must provide to illegals; Parkland Hospital in Texas estimated that 70% or more of the babies they deliver are illegals' anchor babies. We pay for that too.

The cost of illegals has already been documented (unlike the illegals themselves LOL). The average illegal costs us $17,000 per year EACH over what money they "contribute" to our economy and government. That's right - a family of five costs us almost $100,000 each year in stolen benefits and other expenses."
Contact the Congress directly, they do not read these comments
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Call your senators Every American should oppose the Senate Gang of Eight's amnesty proposal to legalize millions of illegal immigrants in a time of budget deficit crisis and high unemployment.

Combined with current laws, the legalization would be a pathway to massive new welfare expenditures, job competition, chain migration and more illegal immigration.

1. It would cost trillions of dollars in extra government spending on social services.

2. It would immediately put millions of illegal aliens in front of the employment line to hold or take U.S. jobs while 20 million Americans who want a full-time job can't find one.

3. It would allow amnestied aliens to begin endless chains of relatives to come and add further competition for jobs and government resources.

4. It would immediately legalize 11 million illegal aliens without requiring triggers that fully implement enforcement first. The previous seven amnesties between 1986 and 2000 had no enforcement triggers and served only to entice 11 million new illegal immigrants who now demand their own amnesty.
Join numbersusadotcom and demand your senator and rep VOTE AGAINST AMNESTY
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The American people have this question: we can try to understand your claim that you "can not" deport the illegal aliens, but why do you want (and insist) to reward them with citizenship after they broke our laws? a simple innocent question that we want the president and the lawmakers to answer.
Please do NOT reward the lawbreakers, send this message to your SENATORS
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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