A microcosm of the Republican civil war played out on Fox News Sunday when radio talk show host Laura Ingraham and columnist George Will went toe-to-toe over immigration reform.
Ingraham criticized the Wall Street Journal for calling out conservative talk radio for opposing reform:
“The Wall Street Journal attacked, in that editorial, talk radio and the people rising up against this, and John Boehner cowering,” Ingraham began. “As far as I can tell, the Wall Street Journal is on the side of Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Barack Obama, Pat Leahy and La Raza. Talk radio, for the most part, is on the side of, yes, Heritage, probably other Tea Party-type groups, most Republican senators and congressmen and I think the lion’s share of the American people.”
Will argued that the economy needed the influx of labor in order to grow:
“The welfare state NEEDS its workforce replenished,” he argued. “As the elderly retire, ten thousand baby boomers become eligible every day for Social Security and Medicare. Second, there’s an intense global competition for human capital, and we’re losing out on that. Third, to immigrate is to make an entrepreneurial act. It’s to uproot yourself and perhaps your family and take a risk, and those are the kinds of people –”
But Ingraham wasn’t buying it:
INGRAHAM: Do we care about American workers at all? And their jobs, and their wages and their dreams?
WILL: Laura, you’re the one who’s arguing the AFL-CIO argument, which is –
INGRAHAM: They’re for it!
WILL: No, but they’re for it with so many caveats they nullify it.
INGRAHAM: But why have borders?
WILL: You’re arguing the zero-sum game –
WILL: When, in the lives of our children and grandchildren, there are 500 million Americans, they’re all going to be working! Because we’re gonna have economic dynamism, aided by immigration!
NGRAHAM: So the argument, though, leads to, ‘Why have borders at all?’ Why have a border if it’s just about people as widgets, who come in and are workers without really a concern about assimilation, without concern about how it affects people in middle America. I mean, a lot of people who are in favor of [immigration reform] don’t send their kids to public schools, are not affected by illegal immigration at all.
But I would submit that there are people who are watching this show right now who are screaming at the top of their lungs saying, ‘Who is Washington is representing my interests?’ The labor shortage argument that Paul Ryan is making, that we have an impending labor shortage — I think, transparently, it is ridiculous to most people, today. We don’t have participation in the workforce as it is!
WILL: It’s not a shortage. It’s growth we want!
And so on. In an economy where few jobs are being created, inviting the kind of immigration Will is talking about is madness. At the same time, in less than a decade, there is going to be a serious shortage of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) workers. Unless there’s a miraculous turnaround at the high school level in students interested in pursuing careers in STEM professions, those workers are going to have to come from overseas. And right now, the procedures to invite them and get them to come here legally are cumbersome and unnecessarily complicated.
An interesting discussion, revealing in its base disagreements that are part of the GOP civil war. Watch the video on the next page.