A couple of quick things because I’m about to run out the door. I’m not close enough to the process to know all the details of what’s plausible here, but John assumes a phased compromise would have to mean stripping amnesty out of the Senate bill and working from that. Why couldn’t it mean adding a guest-worker provision onto the House bill, as well as the targets that would trigger it? (My understanding is that, per Mark Krikorian’s earlier post, the restrictionists’ restrictionist, Tom Tancredo, has a bill with a phased-in guest-worker program). As for leaving the illegals who are already here, one of the benchmarks could be that that illegal population has to be estimated to be declining.
When it comes to analogies to the crime bill, this gets tangled. But there’s no doubt the difficulty getting a bill passed and the internal divisions over it hurt the Democrats. At the end of the day, John is right that they were also hurt by passing a bill that was a bad bill (I doubt my strategist, who doesn’t deserve the scorn heaped on him by John, would debate that, but my post was based on a relatively brief conversation with him that didn’t take account of every permutation of 1994). My view is that on immigration no bill would be bad, a bad bill would be worse, and a decent enforcement-first compromise would be better than both.
Finally, the circumstances in which there is no bill would matter. If Democrats felt compelled to filibuster and kill an enforcement-heavy compromise bill,that could be the best thing to happen to Republicans politically all year.