The Corner

No Deal

Alas, the approach suggested by Rich’s high-flying Republican strategist is doomed. Sure, it might be enough to weaken the resolve of the House Republicans and embroil them in some sort of “compromise” that would allow everyone to claim the GOP was briefly united. (See my description of a parallel effort in today’s Chicago Sun-Times .) But it would be execrable public policy and worse electoral propaganda. Public policy first: This compromise would mean more than doubling legal immigration; adding to these additional legal immigrants a large number of new guestworkers; leaving the existing illegals in place (unless of course the compromise includes what Republican strategists customarily call “Gestapo” deportations); not removing some of the extraordinary depth-charge provisions that the immigration lawyers and Kennedy’s office have inserted into the bill (such as not allowing local police to report criminal aliens); and imposing enormous new responsibilities and new fiscal costs on a creaking government machine without making any real estimate in advance. (The White House’s cost estimates, by the way, have already been blown out of the water by the GAO whose own estimates have been shown to underestimate the problem by Heritage’s Robert Rector.) This bill is a minefield. It cannot be made good by simply dropping the amnesty provision. It needs to be critically examined line by line in advance of being passed into law–which is why enforcement first can only take the form of passing some version of the House bill now and leaving the rest to a second bill in the next Congress. Any other compromise would be simply irresponsible–and demonstrate yet again the fiscal irresponsibility of this administration. As for the electoral effects of such a compromise: it would achieve one clear result–it would mean that the House Republicans would then be firmly associated with all the execrable features of the compromise. Bush is already distrusted on immigration by the mass of right-leaning voters as poll questions on immigration show. In his television address Bush finally persuaded reluctant conservatives that he was an open-borders kind of guy. Joining House Republicans to him by the hip would merely spread that distrust to them. Of course I can quite see why someone close to the White House might find that not unwelcome.

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