House G.O.P. Open to Residency for Illegal Immigrants
House Republicans on Tuesday staked out what they cast as a middle-ground option in the debate over immigration
, pushing an approach that could include legal residency but not a path to citizenship — as their Democratic counterparts favor — for the 11 million illegal immigrants already in the country.
Now, it’s true that in being open to some sort of legal status, Republicans have moved a bit. But that’s only a reflection of how extreme their original position — that any sort of legal status of any kind constitutes unacceptable “amnesty” — really was. The current openness to legal status does not constitute “middle ground.” By any reasonable measure, their position remains marginal, while the Dem position squarely occupies that “middle ground.”
That’s because the Democratic position — one that, in fairness, is shared by GOP Senators like John McCain and Marco Rubio, but not the vast majority of Republicans in the House — is a compromise position, in the sense that it calls for a mix of what both sides want, i.e, beefed up enforcement on one side, and citizenship on the other. And the Dem vision calls for citizenship to be accompanied by penalties and conditions, too.
A new Post poll out this morning drives home that this is indeed the middle ground position. It finds that when Americans are asked whether they favor just a “path to citizenship for illegal immigrants,” a majority supports it, 55-41. Among moderates, the numbers are 53-43, and among independents they are 52-44. Heck, even 45 percent of conservatives, and 42 percent of Republicans, support this. But most Republicans, particularly in the House, are not ready to embrace it.
It’s true that the poll also finds overwhelming support for increasing border security. But again, increased security and enforcement is part of the Dem position. Indeed, under the Obama administration record numbers have been deported and billions have been spent on securing the border. And the Senate compromise crafted in part by Dems includes beefed up enforcement.
The two pillars that are absolutely necessary to any compromise on immigration reform are enforcement, and a path to citizenship with reasonable conditions. Only one party supports both of these. The other, judging by the state of opinion in the House of Representatives, simply doesn’t. And so, by definition, only one party is embracing the middle ground, while the other isn’t. McCain and Rubio, of course, are the exceptions to the rule. Indeed, it’s worth noting that when Republicans cast the Dem embrace of a path to citizenship as “extreme,” they are implicitly suggesting McCain and Rubio are extremists.
The mystifying thing is that this huge cut in spending is becoming more likely even as the CBO finds that the deficit is falling, making immediate austerity — and the damage it will do to the economy — even more unnecessary. Last quarter’s contraction shows us what dramatic reductions in spending will do. There’s no mystery or doubt here.
Eric Cantor’s Bold New Vision for America: No Medical Device Tax
Cantor did seem mindful of the need to articulate, at least rhetorically, a positive vision for government to play in people’s lives, which is not nothing.
The speech fits squarely within the rubric of reinvention sought by the GOP at the advent of President Barack Obama’s second term. The Virginia congressman offered generally familiar proposals, couched in the rhetoric of middle class advancement. This “softer” approach to policy-making squares with an emerging Republican consensus that the party does not necessarily need to change its policies so much as frame them in a way that is more relevant to middle class, minority, and women voters.
It does appear that GOP leaders have made an explicit decision not to change its policy agenda in any meaningful sense, except perhaps on immigration.
In recent weeks, Republican leaders such as Cantor have resembled nothing so much as laundry detergent salesmen, figuring if they can simply rebrand their product (High Efficiency 2x Ultra Stainlifter Clean Breeze Concentrated Fresh!) Americans will buy what they’re selling. Omitted from consideration is the possibility that consumers don’t like what’s in the bottle.
Cantor seems to realize that another “government is evil” speech is pointless — for all the assumptions about the “center-right nation,” he realizes that the American mainstream sees a role for a healthy public sector that promotes the general welfare. But the problem with this latest rebranding campaign is that Cantor wants to present a Republican agenda that will “benefit families across the nation,” but he can’t fill in the blanks. There’s a reason for this, which the right generally prefers not to admit: conservatism isn’t an effective governing philosophy when it comes to using government to make a positive material difference in the lives of working families.
Republicans see the need to make rhetorical concessions about government, which genuinely is an implicit concession that public opinion is not on their side when it comes to broad-strokes questions about its proper role and scope, a question they customarily treat as settled in their favor.
A Group Of Congressmen Have A Plan That Would Avert The Sequester, Reduce The Deficit, And Not Destroy The Economy
Also: See the chart captured by Business Insider, which neatly shows that Dems have conceded far more towards deficit reduction so far (over $1.5 trillion in spending cuts) than Republicans have (around $700 billion in revenue increases).