January 21, 2014

MICKEY KAUS: The Coming GOP Amnesty Sellout Push.

The coming weeks will see the formal start of the GOP House leadership’s attempt to sneak an immigration amnesty through the Republican caucus and into law. We don’t know the exact details of the proposals, but we know enough. . . .

It takes some chutzpah for Boehner to make his amnesty push now, given the sour jobs news, falling measured support for amnesty, and the need for party unity in the coming midterm elections. You’d think the employment news alone–almost 3 unemployed Americans for every available job–would cause savvy lobbyists to postpone any attempt to push for a massive addition to the unskilled and skilled workforce. (The Senate’s bill would add about 6 million extra immigrant workers by 2023 – in addition to the current illegals who’d be legalized.) Maybe that could fly in a boom. But now?

Democrats used to push for tighter labor markets–they’re the best proven way to lower poverty, boost wages and curb income inequality. Today, the job of pointing that out has fallen to Republican Jeff Sessions, who has been fighting the battle Democras like Byron Dorgan and Barbara Jordan used to fight. Do we want to give less skilled Americans millions of new competitors, inevitably bidding down wages at the bottom? (“Did they repeal the law of supply and demand and not tell me about it?” asks Jim Cramer.) The groups most marginally connected to the labor market–e.g, teenage African Americans–would be the biggest losers. Democrats used to understand this.

It’s a sellout. That’s a term I don’t use lightly. Certainly there are plenty of idealistic, principled advocates of “comprehensive immigration reform” — including true believers in open borders, advocates of immigrants’ rights, and ethnic champions. Even the employers who are providing the financial muscle behind the amnesty push may sincerely think spoiled American workers just aren’t cutting it anymore, that the economy needs better, cheaper, hungrier immigrants — heaven forbid responsible corporatist roundtablers should have to actually train those spoiled Americans.

But why are the politicians abandoning the economic interests of the country’s basic laborers, and the strong anti-amnesty convictions of their own constituents (in the case of most Republicans), and doing it at such an objectively inauspicious time? It’s hard to deny that cash is doing much of the swaying here. “[A]ll the money is on the side of pushing it,” one pro-amnesty Democratic Congressman boasted–money in the form not only of direct campaign contributions, as promised by Mark Zuckerberg ($50 million) and the Chamber of Commerce, but also future consulting contracts and lobbying positions for those who echo the line that Republicans just have to do this to remain viable.

Actually, I don’t think they can remain viable if they do. It’s (another) big push in the direction of a massive base-walkaway from the GOP, and quite possibly the formation of a third party.