Obama's Katrina

A mostly political Weblog.
June 30 2008 6:46 PM

Obama's Katrina

Plus: Does McCain want a convention fight?

(Continued from Page 34)

Note to Sen. Obama: Please stop explaining! ... 6:43 P.M. link

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"Forget 'Comprehensive.' Just Give Us the Amnesty!"--Senate Version-- Senator Dianne Feinstein's quickie last minute amnesty sneak play--tacking a 5-year amnesty for 1.5 million agricultural workers onto the Iraq supplemental--has been approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee. ... Full Senate vote expected next  week. ...

Note that this isn't what I've called a "semi-amnesty." It's not that "semi". What illegal ag workers have to do to get the 5-year legalization appears to be minimal--no learning English, or paying back taxes, etc. Just a $250 "fine." ... I don't know whether there is a serious threat of Feinstein's bill passing, or if she's just trying to show big farmers and Hispanic groups that she's trying. Or to see if the other side's  machine guns are  still working. ... Best to assume it's a serious threat. ... Bush would surely sign the bill if it passes. ... Other than that,  comments on the House's earlier sneak play apply to the Senate's version.:

a)Bad for McCain, right? Just when he's papered over his split with the right on immigration, this would reopen the wound. Maybe that's the Dems point. ...

b) Bad for Rahm Emanuel's swing-district Democratic first-termers who campaigned on tough-on-illegal-immigration platforms, no? If it ever comes to a vote, will they reveal to their electorates that it was all just a pose? ...

c) But not an unclever strategy, if you are a pro-legalization Congressperson and want to strike while Hispandering Season is at its height. ...

d) Presumably McCain is now honor bound to oppose this, having pledged to push legalization only after "widespread consensus that our borders are secure." (If he sticks to his word, it might actually wind uphelping him in November, you'd think.)

e) Can you pass a big bill like this in a presidential election year? Well, welfare reform passed in 1996. The key difference? Welfare reform was overwhelming popular, virtually across the board. The fight was largely over who could claim credit for it. Congressmen weren't worried that someone might run an ad accusing them of making welfare recipients go to work.

f) Is this a tacit admission by the legalization caucus that a semi-amnesty might not be as easy to pass in the next president's first two years than you might think (given that all three contenders are formally pro-legalization). ...

g) Or is this an expression of fear that local get-tough enforcement measures, in states like Oklahoma and Arizona, might already be having a surprising effect (at encouraging emigration

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P.S.: Is there a clearer way to signal to potential new illegals, now in Mexico and Central America, that they should come on over--because if they make it across the border and work for a couple of years, their employers will have the lobbying muscle to get them legalized? ... Note also that the House version of the quickie last-minute amnesty was designed to hitch a ride on Rep. Shuler's popular border security bill (the SAVE Act). There's no such immigration-related locomotive for Feinstein's bill...

P.P.S.: Feinstein's website features a pathetically unimpressive trio of ag horror stories, including the now-familiar Bush appointee  who stopped growing tomatoes in order to plant corn, and Steve Scaroni:

Steve Scaroni couldn't find enough workers to work at his lettuce processing plant in California. So he moved the plant to Guanajuato, Mexico to get the labor force that he needed. He now has 2,000 acres in Mexico and 500 employees. He exports to the United States about 2 million pounds of lettuce a week.

Is it crazy to ask why the Scaroni horror story is horrifying? We still get the lettuce. Mexican workers still get the jobs (which, according to Feinstein, were jobs Americans weren't willing to do anyway). Mexico builds its economy, and we don't have to create a group of disenfranchised second-class residents. Nor do we open the borders to workers who can then compete, not just in ag jobs but in all sorts of other jobs that unskilled, hard-pressed Americans will do.

Seems like a sensible deal. If this is really an "emergency situation" requiring a last-minute sneak addition to a must-pass Iraq war bill, you'd think Feinstein would be able to come up with more gripping examples. Some crops rotting, maybe? Wilting a little around the edges? Losing their traditional succulence?  Have the Farm Bureau put an intern on it. ...

More: From Malkin, Askew. ... 5:48 P.M. link

TODAY IN SLATE

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