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Three Billionaires Are Definitely the Best Arbiters of What 318 Million Americans Want



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Or so thought said plutocrats’ communications advisers and the editors of the New York Times. Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, and Sheldon Adelson have an op-ed in the Times today in support of comprehensive immigration reform along the lines of the Senate’s Gang of Eight bill.

“The three of us vary in our politics and would differ also in our preferences about the details of an immigration reform bill,” they argue. I’m not sure just how much that is the case: All three are more or less economic centrists with liberal views on social issues.

And where they disagree on immigration policy isn’t clear. They cite just three policy changes they’d like to see: more green cards for foreign graduates of American universities in certain fields; an expansion and reform of the fraud-ridden EB-5 “immigrant investor” program that offers permanent residency to people who invest a certain amount in the U.S.; and a path to citizenship for immigrants in the U.S. illegally.

“You don’t have to agree on everything in order to cooperate on matters about which you are reasonably close to agreement,” they write. “It’s time that this brand of thinking finds its way to Washington.” Isn’t it possible that brand of thinking does exist in Washington, but that politicians and Americans are not, in fact, reasonably close to agreement on whether illegal immigrants should get a path to citizenship? And that’s the only major policy change in the Gang of Eight bill that they mention — left undiscussed and undefended are the huge increase in legal immigration it would allow, the bill’s large new guest-worker programs, and its limited effectiveness in reducing illegal immigration. All of those, too, are issues on which the American people are not reasonably close to supportive agreement — they’re not too far from agreeing in opposition, actually.

Which is why it’s odd that Adelson, Buffett, and Gates think they’ll get their way if Congress listens more closely to its constituents — who generally oppose higher immigration, lax border enforcement, etc. “It’s time for 535 of America’s citizens to remember what they owe to the 318 million who employ them,” they write. Senator Jeff Sessions has the right answer:

It is clear that three of the richest billionaires in the world have no clue what Congress ‘owe[s] to the 318 million who employ them’. We owe them our loyalty, our compassion, our devotion. It is precisely because of our duty to the working people of this country that we must stop legislation that would import tens of millions of lower-wage workers to replace them.

Terms used in the Times op-ed: investor, manager, talented graduate, legislator. Not used: worker.



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