Chamber of Commerce Gives Stark Ultimatum to GOP

Tom Donohue, President of the US Chamber of Commerce, has given an ultimatum to the Republican party; pass immigration reform or don't bother fielding a candidate for 2016.

Earth to Mr. Donohue: The most recent Pew survey of the most important issues facing the country places immigration reform in 16th place -- just behind "reducing the influence of lobbyists" and just ahead of "Dealing with moral breakdown."

And a Pew/USA Today poll released just a few days ago shows immigration reform finishing dead last as an issue that matters most in 2014. It received 6% of the vote compared to the economy and health care at 27% and 21% respectively.

The American people don't care about immigration reform. It's an inside the Beltway issue being pushed by the business community that wants millions more low wage, low skilled workers.

Donohue's threats are empty:

Tom Donohue, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, predicted that Congress would pass immigration legislation this year and said Republicans shouldn’t bother to field a presidential candidate in 2016 if they don’t.

His comments echo warnings from others, including high-profile Republicans, that the GOP cannot win if it does not improve its showing with the fast-growing Latino electorate, and cannot do that without approving an immigration package. The Senate passed a bipartisan bill last summer but it has languished in the GOP-controlled House ever since.

“If the Republicans don’t do it, they shouldn’t bother to run a candidate in 2016,” Mr. Donohue said at an event Monday on infrastructure issues. “Think about that. Think about who the voters are. I just did that to get everybody’s attention.” (His comments are at about the one hour mark on this C-Span video.

Some House Republicans have said they want to pass immigration legislation, including legal status and the chance for citizenship for those in the U.S. illegally. But many in the House are loathe to take on an issue the divides the party during an election year.

Mr. Donohue tried to knock down one popular notion that Congress can still tackle the issue next year, ahead of the 2016 election. “We’re absolutely crazy if we don’t take advantage of having passed an immigration bill out of the Senate because going back and doing it again might be harder,” he said.

Many Republicans recognize a need for some immigration reform. Guest workers, visa reforms, even a modified DREAM Act would pass the House. Reasonable people may disagree about immigration reform but the Senate bill that so enamors Mr. Donohue is far from reasonable. The chamber president is starting to sound like Obama when he was trying to get Democrats to pass Obamacare. "We've come this far, let's finish it," was the president's message. Look what that got us.

There's a very good reason why the GOP is so obstreperous when it comes to immigration reform; the Senate bill stinks. There is a huge divide between the House and the Senate regarding what constitutes "immigration reform" and many Republicans -- even those who support some kind of reform -- don't trust House Republicans to resist Senate Democrats on the issues of path to citizenship and border security, to name two.

Donohue resorted to wild exaggeration to try and hammer his point home:

Beyond politics, he said stalling on immigration will have economic ramifications. He said immigrants are needed for all sorts of jobs, including health care. “If you don’t do it (pass immigration), you’re going to go to the nursing home and pick up your mother-in-law and bring her home,” he said.

Utter nonsense, and Donohue knows it. If the nursing home is short staff, maybe they'll have to raise wages to attract workers. Of course, Donohue and the rest of his Business Roundtable friends want new immigrants so they can keep wages low.

And that's the whole reason for this tirade. It isn't about improving the GOP's position with Hispanics. Republicans will get zero credit for helping to pass it and even if Latinos were grateful, how many votes would switch?

This is about Chamber of Commerce members being able to hire ultra-low paid foreign workers -- people who will take any job at any wage.

Republicans must find a way to attract more Hispanics to the party, but they're not going to do it pandering to immigration activists. Convincing Hispanics that Republican policies are ultimately better for them as Americans is what needs to be done, not some fake "outreach" that will legalize millions of people who snuck in through the back door.