Sarah Palin sure is having fun with her anti-immigration-reform crusade. Earlier this month, the politician-turned-pundit smacked Jeb Bush for ostensibly dissing the fertility of white women. Now, with the Senate poised to pass a hard-won compromise immigration bill, she has taken to Facebook to tee off on Sen. Marco Rubio and all the other elitist, amnesty-peddling “crony capitalists” plotting to screw over decent, hardworking Americans.
“Holes in the Border as Big as the Holes in Their Amnesty Bill” is the title of Palin’s long Sunday post, which radiates every bit of the self-righteous reverse snobbery and misleading hyperbole we have come to expect from politics’ folksiest demagogue.
“[T]his pandering, rewarding-the-rule-breakers, still-no-border-security, special-interests-ridden, 24-lb disaster of a bill is not supported by informed Americans,” Palin asserts of the Senate bill. Fear not! Mama Grizzly is here to enlighten the ignorant. She derides passages of the bill as “economic insanity” and warns of a coming deficit disaster driven by millions of amnesty-grabbing illegals gaining access to welfare benefits and other entitlements. Despite her fear and loathing of all things Washington, Palin goes so far as to cite the findings of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office’s analysis of the legislation: “According to the CBO, the bill won’t stop illegal immigration, but it will drive down wages for average hardworking Americans. These would be the same blue-collar working class voters of every ethnicity who chose to sit home in 2012 instead of turning out to vote in the swing states we needed to carry in order to stop Barack Obama’s promised ‘fundamental transformation’ of America.”
Well, not exactly. Even setting aside Palin’s bizarre implication that Obama won reelection because an ethnic rainbow of pro-Romney working-class voters decided to sit this one out, the CBO’s scoring of S.744 was, in fact, largely positive. The agency forecasts that the bill would reduce average wages .1 percent in its first decade, but raise them .5 percent in its second. And even the initial dip, the agency stresses, does “not necessarily imply that current U.S. residents would be worse off, on average, under the legislation than they would be under current law.” Why? “As noted,” the CBO explains, “the additional people who would become residents under the legislation would earn lower wages, on average, than other residents, which would pull down the average wage and per capita GNP.” In other words, new immigrants would be the ones earning below the average wage. More broadly, and contradicting Palin’s prediction of economic apocalypse, the CBO estimates that the bill would both “boost economic output” and cut federal deficits by around $180 billion in the first decade and $700 billion in the next.
It’s hardly surprising to see Palin elbowing her way out front on this issue. Her forte has long been a kind of easy, content-free populism aimed squarely at the lizard brain of the GOP base. Whatever the Senate decides this week, Rubio et al. should anticipate more swipes from Palin—whose Facebook rallying cry urged concerned Americans to “Join the mama grizzlies who are rearing up tirelessly to swat away false claims that amnesty is a good thing”—at least up through next year’s midterm elections. “And 2014 is just around the corner,” she noted ominously in closing.
Because, clearly, this wasn’t already rocky enough terrain for the GOP.