The fascination of the day is what the Republicans and Mitt Romney are going to do — actually DO, not just bloviate over and obfuscate — about immigration. The laissez-faire, Libertarian,what’s good for Bain Capital is good for America crowd are on the horns of a dilemma with this one.
Since President Obama went unilateral (at long last) with his decision to stop prosecuting children of “illegal” immigrants, Romney and his advisors have been flapping around like an invasive carp tossed up on the banks of the Rio Grande. To agree with Obama is … well, that’s not even conceivable. The GOP position since November ’08 is to never agree with Obama on anything and blame him for everything, including, as is always worth reminding, the multi-trillion debt run-up of the George W./Dick Cheney administration. Not to mention their inability to push sensible immigration reform past their troglodyte partisans, many of whom are eager to believe that wave after wave of brown-skinned types are pouring across our borders beheading patriotic ranchers and god knows, fornicating with livestock, instead of, you know, picking strawberries in the Central Valley.
The problem is exacerbated because immigration is an issue that actually requires discernible action. You really do have to do something. Immigration is an issue that delivers a lot of immediate, empirical feedback to the effected. This is in contrast to the central — and easily/constantly obfuscatable — tenet of modern conservatism which is that packing on more (and more) tax relief for “job creators” is the only way to restart the economy. With that one conservative partisans can argue ad nauseam that the current level of tax relief is never enough, that liberals are continuing to practice “class warfare” against the only productive members of society, that Barney Frank and Fannie Mae caused the Wall St. meltdown and that “out of control” government spending, requiring laying off thousands of middle class government workers is the only possible way to achieve fiscal balance and employment growth.
They can say all that because the average low information voter finds finance bewildering and is generally inclined to believe that all government — on every level — is inhabited by a bunch of hopeless screw ups.
But … immigration … either the government does something to rectify the problem, or it doesn’t. By stopping the prosecution of young people here because of their parents and opening a path toward citizenship, Obama is doing … something. Still not a lot, but something to alleviate a long, long-festering problem that wouldn’t have festered nearly so long if the modern GOP had any serious intention of, you know, running the government like business. In business you identify problems and solve them. In politics, which is, let’s be honest, is all the Republicans are ever doing these days, you play inane rhetorical games and create as much chaos as possible in hopes of gaining back full power … at which point you can double down your tax cut dreams for the “job creators”.
Another irony with the immigration issue is that the presence of so many “illegals”, (and I use quote marks to suggest that there is a qualitative difference between illegal immigration to do work no American wants to do, and homicidal rampaging), has been shown to be a modest net gain for the economy. This is due to significant gains for the “illegal” fruit pickers and leaf blowers AND the corporate farmers, ranchers, slaughterhouse operations that employ them. (Not so much for school districts and hospitals.)
Presumably a good chunk of those large-scale farm and livestock interests are sympathetic to other Republican policies — like more tax cuts. But as it is, even they aren’t getting relief from the GOP. Large scale employers remain as vulnerable to INS raids as ever, although they are hardly the key villain in the minds of Tea Party conservatives as the Guatemalan who shows up in Pueblo, Colorado with a pair of sandals and a sleeping bag.
In general, Mitt Romney has nothing constructive to offer on any issue you can mention. (The thought of someone as gelatinous as Romney making foreign policy decisions is truly frightening.) But where he can fake it by bewildering the cynical public about finance, job creation with economic double-speak, when it comes to immigration he has to come up with something that actually … does something.
Unless its tax relief for private equity wealth creators, “doing something” ain’t Mitt’s game.