Saturday, March 17 , 2018, 6:28 am | Fair 49º


Mark Cromer: Another Teachable Moment

The health-care debate foreshadows the drive for immigration reform

Judging by the populist upheaval that is shaking his administration’s still mercurial plan to overhaul the health-care system, President Barack Obama’s vow to push for so-called “immigration reform” is almost certain to meet an even bigger firestorm of resistance from middle America.

Mark Cromer
Mark Cromer

After all, selling a mass amnesty for as many as 25 million illegal immigrants during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression doesn’t quite have the same appeal to Americans as reducing the skyrocketing costs of medical care and ensuring treatment.

Thus the administration’s missteps in shepherding through health-care reform have become, in the parlance of the new Left: “a teachable moment.” Now, what might they learn from this health-care debacle?

Lesson No. 1: Don’t try to pass an initiative that you don’t have the votes in the bag for. Obama’s announcement this month at the feeble “Three Amigos” summit in Mexico that immigration reform would be put off until next year means one thing — he knows he doesn’t have the votes. Health-care reform has seriously bled his support among middle-class independent voters and he doesn’t want to risk further hemorrhaging by pushing immigration reform now.

Lesson No. 2: Better to have Congress vote first and explain (or apologize) later than it is to have Congress consult with the American people before voting on a massive, complex bill that will fundamentally alter life for citizens.

Obama understands this instinctively, which is why he pushed hard for Congress to pass a health-care bill before its August recess, rightly fearing what legislators would face once they returned to their home districts. But his momentum on Capitol Hill stalled and he’s been playing defense — and a lackluster one at that — since the moment Congress adjourned for summer.

Thus Obama and his congressional cortege will do everything they can to prevent their coming drive for immigration reform from facing hostile crowds outside the Beltway and turning into a replay of the battle over health care.

Accordingly, immigration reform legislation will likely be introduced early in the next congressional session, and its proponents will be primed to run a blitz to rapidly advance it downfield.

To that end, there will be some similarities in the core messaging that Obama and his allies will use to try to pass a mass amnesty, such as insisting that immigration reform is critical to saving the economy and — in a tip of the hat to George Orwell — will in fact create jobs for American workers.

And like his pitch for a radical makeover of the health-care system, Obama will insist that our immigration system is hopelessly “broken” and unless comprehensive reform is passed right this instant, America will face devastating consequences.

There are some differences Obama can look forward to when immigration reform is taken up in Congress.

Unlike the forces now arrayed against his health-care reform, virtually all of the corporate big guns are on Obama’s side in the fight to dissolve the United States’ sovereign rule of law under a tidal wave of illegal immigration. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a host of ancillary business groups are ready to pour millions of dollars into ensuring their agenda of flooding the job market with cheap “labor capital” remains sacrosanct in the Beltway.

Working alongside those corporate shills will be the full range of Latino interest groups determined to go all out for the amnesty they see as central to the expansion of their ethnic power base. Operatives from the National Council of La Raza will again fan out across the airwaves to serve as the Obama administration’s frontline surrogates ready to scream “racism” at opponents of amnesty — all while Obama keeps a straight face as he decries the “divisive” language of Republicans.

Whether or not the immigration reform bill comes in at 1,500 dense pages that are drafted in the arcane language of lawyers looking for billable hours, it’s a safe bet that the final draft of the bill that’s voted on won’t be revealed until the last possible moment, allowing lawmakers to tell constituents their concerns are being “worked out” — right up to the vote.

The ultimate fate of Obama’s campaign pledge to secure the single largest mass amnesty in the history of nation states is as uncertain today as the prognosis of his drive to remake America’s health-care system.

But one thing is certain; by putting immigration reform off until next year, Obama has assigned it to a Congress that faces re-election even as millions of jobless and underemployed Americans continue to seek work in a battered economy.

Faced with that diagnosis, immigration reform won’t just need major surgery to survive, but a miracle.

— Mark Cromer is a senior writing fellow at Californians for Population Stabilization.

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