Does the Donald Trump boomlet reflect widespread agreement among Republican voters with his views on immigration in their rawest, ugliest form? Or does it reflect something else that no one has been able to put a finger on yet?
Recently, presidential candidate Donald Trump called for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. He said Mexico is quote, “sending people that have lots of problems…they’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” Setting aside how Trump worded his comments, do you think he’s basically right on this or not?
Seventy percent of Republicans said Yes, versus only 27 percent who said No. Americans overall said Trump is wrong by 53-44; independents said the same by 61-36.
As I’ve argued, the GOP’s problem with Latino voters goes a lot deeper than Trump’s rhetoric. That problem is rooted in the fundamental underlying difference between the two parties’ views on immigration. Most Democrats believe the 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country have something positive to contribute, while most Republican lawmakers either don’t believe that or cannot accept legalization under any circumstances, because it would reward lawbreaking.
The new Fox finding perhaps comports generally with that. But this shouldn’t be taken too far. Other numbers from the Fox poll cast doubt on the idea that GOP voters are in the grip of unrelenting xenophobia. Large chunks of Republican voters agree that legal immigrants bring some positives to the country, such as new ideas and entrepreneurial spirit. This is in line with the view expressed by some GOP pollsters that Republican primary voters can be won over on immigration: their initial instinct is to lash out at the idea of legalization but they change their views when they are led through the moral and practical complexities of the problem. I like to think this is true. Indeed, I believe the instinct of many conservatives against rewarding lawbreaking should be engaged seriously, even if I disagree with it.
Still, how to explain the Trump boomlet? One GOP operative suggests an explanation for what’s motivating Trump’s supporters. “They seem to be galvanized by a notion that Washington is hopelessly corrupt – and you need somebody who is completely outside of the process to go in there and shake things up,” this operative says. “For a lot of these folks, I think immigration speaks more broadly to a federal government that’s not doing its job as effectively as they think it should be or could be.”
Perhaps. Alternatively, it could just be name-recognition, or something else still. As it happens, there is one way this question might be settled. Many Republicans expect an epic showdown between Trump and Jeb Bush on immigration, perhaps at the coming GOP debate. It’s possible that Jeb, who has challenged Republicans to accept that the 11 million are more than mere criminals, may try to call out Trump’s views for what they are before a high profile audience. If so, the reaction from GOP voters across the country will tell us a lot.
* AIPAC GEARS UP TO BLOCK IRAN DEAL: Ron Kampeas reports that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee is ramping up an aggressive campaign to lobby members of Congress to oppose the Iran deal. Their first-line targets:
Caught in the middle are the 28 Jewish lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate. Jewish lawmakers usually are AIPAC’s first avenue of access when they take on a major initiative. Yet the lawmakers, all but one of whom caucus with Democrats, also have been under pressure by the administration to back the deal.
As I’ve reported, progressive groups are also gearing up a multi-million-dollar pro-deal campaign. The White House only needs to hold one-third of one chamber.
* WHITE HOUSE PUSHES DEMS ON IRAN: Paul Kane has an interesting look at the lobbying effort the White House has mounted to persuade Dems not to abandon the Iran deal. Note this, about Joe Biden’s role:
His ties to the Senate are legendary, but his connection to House Democrats is possibly even stronger. Over the last seven years Biden has tended to dozens of fundraisers for rank-and-file Democrats and made campaign stops in their districts….Of the 188 House Democrats, [Nancy] Pelosi will need to persuade about 145 of them to vote with the president on the Iran deal.
And 150 House Dems have signed a letter supporting diplomacy, which suggests the votes may already be there in the lower chamber to sustain Obama’s veto of a GOP disapproval measure.
* HILLARY ROLLS OUT ‘PROFIT SHARING’ MEASURE: Clinton fills in her economic agenda, proposing a measure to encourage corporations to share profits with workers:
The “rising incomes, sharing profits” tax credit Mrs. Clinton is proposing would give companies a two-year tax credit equivalent to 15 percent of profits distributed to employees, to be capped at 10 percent of wages. The credits would cost an estimated $10 billion to $20 billion over 10 years and would be paid for by closing corporate tax loopholes.
This is one of a number of Dem-aligned proposals to influence corporate behavior (another is reform of taxation of executive compensation) to combat stagnating wages and soaring inequality.
* WHAT’S REALLY DRIVING HILLARY’S ECONOMIC AGENDA: Paul Krugman argues that Clinton’s economic speech this week reflects an “intellectual revolution” among economists who have learned that government intervention in the economy does not necessarily cause the individual hand of the market to smite down jobs.
Meanwhile, all indications are that the GOP candidates remain wedded to the dogma that the way to combat stagnating wages, opportunity and mobility is to get government out of the way. Behold the contours of the great 2016 argument over the economy taking shape.
* AND COULD TRUMP’S DREAMS OF A MEXICAN WALL BE REALIZED? Jerry Markon talks to experts and discovers that walling off illegal immigration from Mexico, as Trump has vowed to do, might not be that easy:
Any wall-building effort would encounter…some of the same difficulties that bedeviled the federal government as it spent more than $7 billion to build fencing that now extends along one-third of the border. The obstacles include environmental and engineering problems; fights with ranchers and others who don’t want to give up their land; and the huge topographical challenges of the border, which runs through remote desert in Arizona to rugged mountains in New Mexico and, for two-thirds of its length, along rivers.
Wait, so policy problems are often complicated? Trump’s vow to charge Mexico $25,000 to $100,000 (the rate varies, apparently) per illegal immigrant might also prove hard to pull off.