July 14, 2014


Obama pays price for inaction on immigration law (MICHAEL BARONE, JULY 13, 2014 , DC Examiner)

But it wasn't only Republicans who failed to pass such a bill. House Democrats didn't pass one either in 2009 or 2010, when they had a bigger majority than Republicans have had in 80 years.

House Democrats' priorities were the stimulus package, Obamacare and cap-and-trade legislation to address supposed global warming. They passed all three despite negative polling -- and even though cap-and-trade had no chance in the Senate.

In the short run Barack Obama paid no political price for the Democrats' decision to sidestep immigration. The only time he got pressed on the issue was a grilling by Univision's Jorge Ramos in September 2012. Obama carried 71 percent of Hispanic votes in November.

But he missed the chance to pass comprehensive immigration reform--on which, unlike the stimulus, Obamacare and cap-and-trade, he might have had significant Republican support--by his own choice.

Republicans' Failure to Pass Immigration Reform Has Cost Us $900 Billion (Brian Beutler, 7/14/14, Nrew Republic)

[O]ne need only look back to the Senate's comprehensive immigration reform bill, which Republicans helped design and pass just over a year ago.

The process of building wide stakeholder support for the bill required many complex tradeoffs and compromises, but the key partisan compromise was very straightforward: a "surge" of resources, including thousands of new border patrol agents and hundres of miles of fencing, to shore up the border for Republicans in exchange for a legal process by which 11 million unauthorized immigrants could earn citizenship.

This swap was mostly necessary because political realities stood in the way of either measure becoming law without the other. Republicans couldn't pass a border security bill on their own, and Democrats couldn't pass an amnesty provision on their own. Together, the votes materialized. But the provisions are also linked fiscally.

After all, the Republican half of the deal isn't free. The Congressional Budget Office estimated (PDF) that it would cost $22 billion over ten years. That's a tiny fraction of the overall federal budget, but it's more than five times what the White House thinks is required to address the acute migrant crisis. Those resources could probably be restructured and even increased, if Republicans decided to fulfill their promise and pass an immigration bill in the House. And unlike the $4 billion in spending they now oppose, those resources would be lasting.

They would also be paid for. Much more than paid for, actually. That's because the Democratic half of the deal is a big deficit reducer. By bringing the eleven million out of the shadows and into the labor force, government revenues would increase significantly. Some of those revenues would flow right back into the same community of eleven million in the form of social spending (think Medicaid, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and so on). More still would go to the border. But the rest (almost $200 billion in the first decade, and another $700 billion in the second) would be headroom in the budget for other priorities, whether they be infrastructure spending, education, or deficit reduction. 

Posted by at July 14, 2014 3:42 PM

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