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Republican Political Suicide Over Immigration Reform

David Brooks warns that failing to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill “could be a tragedy for the country and political suicide for Republicans.”

Conservatives say they want economic growth. The Senate immigration bill is the biggest pro-growth item on the agenda today. Based on estimates from the Congressional Budget Office, the Senate bill would increase the gross domestic product by 3.3 percent by 2023 and by 5.4 percent by 2033. A separate study by the American Action Forum found that it would increase per capita income by $1,700 after 10 years.

Conservatives say they want to bring down debt. According to government estimates, the Senate bill would reduce federal deficits by up to $850 billion over the next 20 years. The Senate bill reduces the 75-year Social Security fund shortfall by half-a-trillion dollars.

Conservatives say they want to reduce illegal immigration. The Senate bill spends huge amounts of money to secure the border. According to the C.B.O., the bill would reduce illegal immigration by somewhere between 33 percent to 50 percent. True, it would not totally eliminate illegal immigration, but it would do a lot better than current law, which reduces illegal immigration by 0 percent.

Conservatives say they want to avoid a European-style demographic collapse. But without more immigrants, and the higher fertility rates they bring, that is exactly what the U.S. faces. Plus, this bill radically increases the number of high-skilled immigrants. It takes millions of long-term resident families out of the shadows so they can lead more mainstream lives.

These are all gigantic benefits. They are like Himalayan peaks compared with the foothill-size complaints conservatives are lodging.

Brooks discusses the objections at length and finds them wanting and closes with a warning: “Whether this bill passes or not, this country is heading toward a multiethnic future. Republicans can either shape that future in a conservative direction or, as I’ve tried to argue, they can become the receding roar of a white America that is never coming back.”

Quite so.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. It’s not political suicide for any given Republican politician, though. As has been pointed out, every Republican member of Congress either thinks like Michelle Bachmann, or is afraid of losing a primary to someone who thinks like Michelle Bachmann.

    Sure, the long-term incentives of the party overall are to climb down from the spot they’re in today, of allowing Fox News- and Southern Strategy-style resentment to determine 100% of their policy and rhetoric. But the incentives of every Republican politician and commentator are to stay in the good graces of the movement. It’s better for your pocketbook to be Jim DeMint than Dick Lugar.

    Everyone in the GOP is behaving perfectly rationally.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 31 Thumb down 0

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    According to the C.B.O., the bill would reduce illegal immigration by somewhere between 33 percent to 50 percent. True, it would not totally eliminate illegal immigration, but it would do a lot better than current law, which reduces illegal immigration by 0 percent.

    which reduces illegal immigration by 0 percent.?????????? WTF is that supposed to even mean? This is why I can not stand to read Brooks any more. A phrase too cut by half, consisting of absolute nonsensical BS in support of an otherwise well argued piece. He just does not know when to STFU.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @reflectionephemeral:

    Everyone in the GOP is behaving perfectly rationally.

    First time I ever heard someone say that irrationality was rational, but in this case, it’s true. Ladies and gentlemen? I give you today’s GOP.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  4. PJ says:

    There’s a future for the GOP, it’s called apartheid.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  5. edmondo says:

    …political suicide for Republicans

    and then they voted to shut down the suicide prevention hotlines.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  6. James Joyner says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Yeah, I know what he’s trying to say but it’s silly when analyzed. Obviously, current law serves as an impediment to illegal immigration but not enough of one. Brooks is taking the amount of immigration not stopped by the current law–as his baseline.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  7. Barfour says:

    I think immigration reform will eventually be passed and it is still likely that it will be this year. The potential damage that Republicans will face if they block immigration reform is too big. I know that Republicans have done many dumb things in recent year, in fact some of us don’t remember the last time Republicans did something smart, but surely they are not going to cause big long term damage to their party, right?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  8. Ben says:

    @reflectionephemeral:

    It’s not political suicide for any given Republican politician, though. As has been pointed out, every Republican member of Congress either thinks like Michelle Bachmann, or is afraid of losing a primary to someone who thinks like Michelle Bachmann.

    Sure, the long-term incentives of the party overall are to climb down from the spot they’re in today, of allowing Fox News- and Southern Strategy-style resentment to determine 100% of their policy and rhetoric. But the incentives of every Republican politician and commentator are to stay in the good graces of the movement. It’s better for your pocketbook to be Jim DeMint than Dick Lugar.

    Everyone in the GOP is behaving perfectly rationally.

    It’s basically a political tragedy of the commons. Each individual actor is doing what is rational in their own self-interest, but taken in the aggregate, it will be extremely destructive.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 0

  9. legion says:

    As @reflectionephemeral points out, this isn’t suicide for any particular Republican who has to go back & explain himself to his constituents – just the party at a national level. You wanna see Republicans cutting their noses off to spite their own faces en masse, though? The House just passed forward the farm funding bill with no food stamp funding. It’s one thing to go back to your white, well-to-do (or even not so well-to-do) district and say “I’m trying to protect our borders!” It’s another thing altogether to go back and say “I took food off your plate!”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  10. becca says:

    @legion: What would one expect from the party that would lash Sweet Nell to the tracks when her poor widowed mother fell behind on her rent?

    Snidely Whiplash got nuttin’ on today’s GOP.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  11. Caj says:

    That light bulb moment that Republicans had when they lost again to President Obama didn’t last very long! They lost due to their alienation of Latino’s, gays & women rights. Yet here they are doing the exact same thing all over again. Stupid is as stupid does. They can forget retaking the White House anytime soon! Who would want to belong to a party that is so entrenched in stupidity?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  12. Grumpy says:

    If it passes- there will be no GOP, at least not as a viable political party..

    You can look forward to either a new party that will instantly grab 40% of the GOP base and/or a much larger rate of conservatives sitting out the next election–

    The 1986 Immigration bill was supposed to be the forever fix

    Then the the 1996 Law was supposed fix everything — forever

    But by 2006 the politicians said we needed another fix–

    We don’t need to fix the immigration laws – we need to fix the politicians – and demand impeachment of any President who fails to live up to his obligation under Article II Section 3 and Article IV Section 4 of the Constitution -

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  13. bill says:

    i thought Hispanics were “white”? like it matters anyway. the biggest hurdle is just how much “aid” we need to give people who are fleeing some 3rd or4rth world hellhole to better themselves. remember, the more aid we give them more aid they’ll need- and prices increase when the gov’t. throws money at them.
    why can’t our career unemployed just take jobs that the immigrants will do? it’s a rhetorical question that needs no answering so don’t bother.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  14. @OzarkHillbilly:

    I think he was using “rational” in the economic sense, which is quite differnt than the normal usage of the word.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  15. Barry says:

    @Barfour: “The potential damage that Republicans will face if they block immigration reform is too big. ”

    Where for most GOP politicians, ‘potential’ means ‘in a decade or so, after I’ve amassed hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars’.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  16. Barry says:

    @legion: ” It’s another thing altogether to go back and say “I took food off your plate!” ”

    If you’re on food stamps and vote Republican, then they figure that you’ll vote Republican no matter what.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  17. al-Ameda says:

    @Barry:

    If you’re on food stamps and vote Republican, then they figure that you’ll vote Republican no matter what.

    Yes, that’s the 47% that Mitt Romney was talking about.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  18. Sam Malone says:

    Republicans are irrelevant.
    There’s this immigration f’ up.
    And then there is their farm bill that doles out money to big ag-biz and screws the poorest amongst us.
    So what do they stand for? The farm bill is way left of any Democrat.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  19. legion says:

    @Barry: that is entirely correct. And also, sadly, true.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  20. superdestroyer says:

    How does it really hurt the Republicans to slow down the creation of millions of additional automatic Democratic Party voters. There is a reason that every host on MSNBC is saying that the Republicans should support comprehensive immigration reform. It will be a disaster for the Republican Party and will quickly turn the U.S. into a one party state. Putting 10 million plus illegal immigrants on the fast track to citizenship while doubling legal immigration and increasing H1B visas will lower the quality of life of many Republican voters.

    If anyone want to see how badly the cheap labor Republicans are doing is that none of them can give a single reason why middle class whites should support amnesty, open borders, and higher levels of immigration.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0