This puts Rubio in a political box.
The recent revelation that under existing IRS policy, lower-income, illegal workers would be eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit, providing them larger tax refunds than they had withheld from their paychecks, effectively ends the debate over whether the legislation will increase the government dependency class. It will.
And, it is becoming increasingly obvious that Rubio realizes that he has been set up to be the fall guy for legislation that started out with good intentions but falls far short of achieving a viable solution to the illegal immigration problem.
While a vast majority of the public is unaware of the minutia of the legislation today, Rubio’s real problem is that when his hoped-for presidential run occurs, the effects of the legislation would at least partially be felt.
The bill’s stamp of approval for providing government assistance to those here illegally will be a major issue in Republican primaries, and the voters will blame Rubio.
For this reason, passage of the Gang of Eight legislation is Rubio’s worst-case political scenario.
If it becomes law, how can Rubio credibly call for balanced budgets and cutting the size and scope of government when his bill dramatically expanded the nation’s social welfare spending?
How does Rubio decry the continued inflow of illegal immigrants if the current bill passes, when he would own the failure to capture the moment in time when real border security measures could have be enacted?
Rubio can salvage the situation and still be the hero in this debate, but it will be tough. By walking away from the Gang of Eight legislation, he would force Democrats to make a choice: either pass legislation that truly secures America’s borders and protects our nation’s treasury while providing a common-sense, achievable way for people who want to become legal citizens to achieve that dream, or play politics on the issue.
If done thoughtfully, Rubio could be the lynchpin for creating balanced immigration reform but only if he has the courage to step away from the current bill. If he does, he may just earn all that talk about him being a future presidential contender.