Plucking the pluckers.

A mostly political Weblog.
June 18 2007 8:14 AM

Plucking the Pluckers

Do liberals still care about low-wage workers?

(Continued from Page 16)

2, Cynical voting: In this approach, Republicans who didn't like the overall bill would vote for a Democratic amendment, even though they didn't support the amendment, cynically knowing it would poison the bill for many of its Republican supporters. The problem that the cynical Republicans would have to justify their vote. You wouldn't think that would be a big obstacle, but it seems to be. The bill's opponents could have joined the Dems in phasing out the guest worker program, for example--allegedly a killer. But they didn't--not enough of them anyway. It lost by one vote. (If Sen. DeMint had cynically supported Dorgan's amendment, for example, it would have passed.) The trick here would seem to be devising an amendment that Republicans could at least plausibly claim to non-cynically support.

The best of these amendments would play on the division between business-oriented conservatives, who hate regulations and taxes on employers, and social conservatives with less economic concerns. One example might be reader R.M.'s suggestion for an amendment to make employers pay for any English classes that would enable a legalized illegal to get his or her Z-visa. Also: mandated paid hours off to attend those classes! Also: a special tax to pay for border security on any business that employs a Z-visa holder! The more expensive to employers, the better.

That's the most promising tack I've heard. But I doubt it will work either. Pro-business Republicans will figure they can get it taken out in conference, or that they can vote against the bill when it comes back to them. If the bill doesn't pass, I suspect it will simply be because too many senators decide there's too much heat and they'd rather not deal with it. ...

Tell me if I've got all this wrong. ...

Update: Kate O'Beirne's sources think the bill is still on track. ... And be sure you make it to the last paragraphs of this Politico piece. ... 5:30 P.M. link

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I agree with the piece and with the arguments against the piece! Conor Friedersdorf criticizes my LAT piece (on the similarities between Bush's Iraq and immigration gambles) for failing to mention that

the Bush Administration sold the Iraq War dishonestly, and now it is selling "comprehensive immigration reform" dishonestly.

Criticism correct. I didn't want readers to think they had to believe that "Bush Lied" about Iraq to be alarmed by his immigration plan. And you don't have to believe that! But it's fun to see staunch conservative Iraq War supporters suddenly realize in retrospect that the BS media operation  Bush is using to sell his immigration project is the same BS media operation he used to sell the war. ...

Ezra Klein, meanwhile, has this reaction:

I'm a little puzzled, though, on why enforcement is so impossible. You can't drop migration to nothing, to be sure, but the utter pessimism as to its reduction strikes me as peculiar. It's also vaguely beside the point. If nothing can be done to lessen illegal immigration, than you just have to decide if you want more of the immigrants to be legal.

I don't think enforcement is impossible. (That's the WSJ!) What I doubt is that an effective enforcement system--both employer checks and actual physical barriers--can be put in place before the border is hit by a wave of new illegals attracted by the Bush plan's legalization provisions. That's what I mean when I say the Bush plan requires a "chain of events happening on cue." They won't happen on cue--just as the training of the Iraqi police hasn't happened on cue. Which is why we need to put the enforcement in place, and make sure it works, before we attract a new wave of illegals by declaring a semi-amnesty.** I should have made this central point more clearly. ...