Politics

07.09.13

"Kill the Bill"

It's designed to get attention when the two long-time editors of the two most important conservative opinion journals co-byline a piece, which I don't recall ever seeing them do. So, Bill Kristol and Rich Lowry, editors respectively of The Weekly Standard and The National Review, here's your attention!

They decided to join heads a column they call Kill the Bill." I think you know what bill I mean. They have various substanative beefs--the bill has loopholes, it "doesn't solve the illegal immigration problem" (newsflash: neither does it prove or disprove the existence of God), it admits too many low-skilled workers.

These aren't crazy objections, but they're the kind of run-of-the-mill objections that can be made about any big congressional bill. They get sorted out in conference, or fixed next time, or they just linger until the next generation comes along and gets a better idea about how to fix the problem. Legislating is as imperfect as anything else in this world.

But now we get to their political argument, which is what they and we really care about:

The Republicans eager to back the bill are doing so out of political panic. “I think Republicans realize the implications for the future of the Republican party in America if we don’t get this issue behind us,” John McCain says. This is silly. Are we supposed to believe that Republican Senate candidates running in states such as Arkansas, North Carolina, Iowa, Virginia, and Montana will be hurt if the party doesn’t embrace Chuck Schumer’s immigration bill?

If Republicans take the Senate and hold the House in 2014, they will be in a much better position to pass a sensible immigration bill. At the presidential level in 2016, it would be better if Republicans won more Hispanic voters than they have in the past—but it’s most important that the party perform better among working-class and younger voters concerned about economic opportunity and upward mobility. Passing this unworkable, ramshackle bill is counterproductive or irrelevant to that task.  

It's actually not at all inconceivable that in some of the states named, yes, in elections in the near future, Republican Senate candidates could indeed be harmed by a growing Latino vote energized to vote against them and for the Democrat. The fastest-growing metropolitan Latino populations in America, for example? Charlotte and Raleigh.

I like the way they allude to "working-class and younger voters." They had the sense not to be so crass as to put the modifier "white" in front of those nouns, because that would have eaten up all the discussion oxygen, but we all know by simple process of elimination that that's what they really mean.

Finally, they are quite casual about the notion of whether the GOP needs to pass anything. Sure, if our side takes the Senate, maybe, they write, or maybe the House can pass some incremental things, although why bother since the Senate won't accept incremental in this case. Well, fine with me. If they want to keep getting 27 percent--at best; this debate is being followed fiercely in US-Latino media, and if the R's kill it, memory will be strong and long, and if anything the GOP share of the Latino vote will decrease--of a vote that's going to increase by 2 percentage points every presidential election, that's fine with me.