Demise of the ‘Grand Bargain’

Just days after shelving the high-stakes immigration reform bill, today the Senate takes up a no-confidence vote on Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez. Democrats are fine with it failing; they just need to get the Republicans on the record defending Gonzalez for future use in campaign commercials. We’re not getting anywhere on substance but you can sure take the political temperature of Congress these days and it’s clearly so hot they can’t do their jobs. What’s on for tomorrow? President Bush will attend the GOP Senate lunch and implore his fellow Republicans to forge ahead with the immigration package they rejected. They will listen, hot under the collar, but the reception could be chilly.

With the death of the “grand bargain” on immigration, Washington observers are mourning the death of bipartisanship. But bipartisanship is alive and well — both parties, working in concert to torpedo the bill, hated it equally. The grassroots, not the lobbyists, spoke loud and clear and the voice of the opposition was much noisier than those advocating reform.

Yes, the atmosphere is still partisan on Capitol Hill, and too politically volatile for compromise. Democrats who just won Republican seats last fall are scrambling to keep them. Republicans who just lost them are scrambling to get them back. Until there is a new president, and a new season of true bipartisan goodwill, both sides have too much to lose. In his first months in office President Bush enjoyed the cooperation of Democrats on education reform, and even some on tax cuts, and it is possible the next president will convince the Congress to pass an immigration compromise that looks much the same as the one both parties now love to hate.

The Sopranos and the Senate

Watching the final episode of “The Sopranos” last night was kind of like watching the downfall of the immigration bill in the Senate. It is as if David Chase was studying Harry Reid’s every move.

Great anticipation followed by a dull end.  When is the movie coming out?

Ted Kennedy is like Tony Soprano. Lots of charisma but a little on the heavy side. He is barking orders but he can’t finish the job of winning his battle without the help of the feds (George Bush, in this case).

Talk of a sequel is already starting when it comes to immigration. Democrats say that they will bring it back if there is an agreement on the number of amendments that Republicans bring up. Kind of like the agreement reached by the New Jersey and New York crews, to the ultimate downfall of Phil Leotardo.

Tom Tancredo is kind of like Phil. All this attention is getting to his head. He loves to bash immigrants so much he has decided to run for president.

Republicans Should Pass Immigration Bill

If the Bush bill on immigration does not pass in 2007, the Clinton immigration bill will pass in 2009. In other words, if the Republican president does not get credit for liberating millions of Hispanics from illegal status, a future Democratic president will. The consequences of a defeat of the immigration bill at Republican hands will be as profound among Hispanic voters as Goldwater’s opposition to the Civil Rights Bill of 1964 was among black voters. Hispanics increasingly want to vote Republican. Republicans should not drive them into the arms of Democrats by rejecting this bill.

More Thoughts on the ‘Grand Bargain’ Immigration Mess

Reading the lead editorial from The Washington Post this morning, I was struck by the overt admission that current immigration “reform” efforts underway on the Hill will create a new class of illegal immigrants — and this in an editorial that advocates for passage of the immigration bill!  “The Senate is ensuring that over time it will create a new class of hopeless and mired illegal immigrants,” the Post opines. Are you kidding me?

I can’t imagine anything more irresponsible than to openly advocate for passage of legislation that even supporters believe will bring more, rather than fewer, illegal immigrants to the United States. I believe America’s greatest strength is our diversity. At the same time, I can’t fathom creating a new system that not only rewards those who have broken the law in the past to get here but will also encourage more illegal immigration. Unbelievable.

Schwarzenegger says immigration bill could send jobs 'offshore'

Here we go again. Just when President Bush and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) thought every crazy, right-wing wacko had gone hoarse screaming about the incomprehensive immigration bill, yet another Republican chimes in to express concerns over the specifics of the bill. Except this Republican is anything but right-wing. In fact, he’s about as liberal as they come. And he’s related to Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), one of the bill’s authors.

That’s right, rabidly moderate California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger sent a letter today to Senate leaders Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) expressing reservations with the bipartisan immigration bill that fails to ensure an adequate number of work visas for highly skilled workers and went so far as to imply the immigration bill could result in the unintended consequence of outsourcing labor to foreign markets.

Schwarzenegger warns:

Jeb Bush and Mehlman Salsa Around Illegal Immigration

Proving just how inept the White House is at communicating its message on illegal immigration is this bizarre talking point out of a Wall Street Journal op-ed today, penned by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and former Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman:

“Hispanics are also the fastest growing segment of our population. Salsa outsells ketchup and tacos outsell hot dogs. One out of eight people under 35 in Nebraska is Hispanic.”

I’m not exactly sure what the salsa vs. ketchup argument is supposed to prove. I’m a white woman (full disclosure: over the age of 35 and not living in Nebraska) who eats more salsa than ketchup. And I’ve probably consumed more tacos this year than hot dogs. So what’s the point?

Here’s something for Mehlman and Bush to chew on: If you put Velveeta cheese and a jar of salsa in a bowl and microwave it, you get chili con queso dip. Makes you think, doesn’t it? 

McCain's Immigration Position Will Cost Him with GOP

The conservative right is in full fury opposing the deal cooked up by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) for immigration reform. The full impact of the storm is likely to be felt by McCain as he offers himself as a candidate for the GOP nomination. The deal, of course, is good precisely because it pleases nobody. The right hates the idea that 12 million people who came here illegally can stay and work. The Hispanics hate that they have to pay $5,000 each, can't become citizens until they return to their country of origin, and cannot bring their famlies in. The left hates that the border fence and increased guards are prerequisites for the bill's implementation. The Democrats hate that the 12 million illegals won't be able to vote for a decade more. The Republicans hate that they will be able to vote eventually.

It’s a deal only a congressional insider could love. But Bush, Kennedy, Kyl, Graham and the other Senate supporters don't have to run in Republican primaries. McCain does, and he will not be lightly forgiven his apostasy in crafting this hodgepodge. Remember in evaluating this bill that a camel is a horse designed by a committee.

On Immigration Bill, Give Credit Where It’s Due

Immigration. Complicated isn’t the half of it; 380 pages and counting. Anyone can demagogue this baby.

I have to say, however, that I have great admiration for the senators from both sides of the aisle who have worked tirelessly, day in and day out, to craft a bill that goes to the heart of what the legislative process should be all about.

At the risk of pulling a “I remember the good old days” line, I have certain nostalgic feelings for my tenure as a young staff aide in the Senate in the ’70s and as a page in the mid-1960s. I remember the intense back-and-forth of civil rights bills, the compromises, the arm-twisting by Lyndon Johnson and Hubert Humphrey; I remember working on legislation growing out of Frank Church’s Intelligence Committee investigations on domestic surveillance; the Panama Canal Treaties; environmental legislation that changed the country.

GOP Should Back Immigration Compromise

The Republican Party can decide whether it lives or dies by whether or not it blocks the immigration compromise from passing this year. If the GOP prevents it from going through and a Democratic president pushes it through a Democratic Congress in 2009, the GOP will suffer as much among Hispanic voters as it did among black voters after Barry Goldwater crusaded agianst the Civil Rights Bill in his 1964 election campaign. Until Goldwater did that, blacks usually voted Republican. Kennedy won over about 60 percent of them when he called Coretta Scott King while her husband was in jail. But LBJ got the 90 percent of the black vote that has since become his party's expected share as a direct result of Goldwater's campaign.

If the Republican Party passes this bill while a GOP president can still sign it and take partisan credit for it, it will have a very good chance of winning the Latino vote in the future. If not, the party will be ground under the demographic changes in America just as the Labor Party was in the early years of the 20th century.

The Marketplace

The marketplace works in strange ways.

The marketplace works in the American economy to create a vociferous demand for both cheap labor and highly skilled labor.

Cheap labor continues to flow across the border because the marketplace needs the labor to get done. From picking oranges to working in chicken-plucking factories, the labor needs to get done cheaply.

There are not enough American workers who are willing to do the job. If there were no jobs for these unskilled laborers, who come from Central America, Eastern Europe and all parts of Asia, it is highly unlikely that they would come here in such numbers.

The marketplace has overwhelmed the laws that govern this nation, making those laws largely irrelevant. That is why the Senate and the president have attempted to change the laws governing unskilled labor and immigration.