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In defending his immigration reform bill, President Bush is fighting back against conservatives with a fervor that he doesn’t usually display when liberals criticize him on, oh, just about anything. He claims that people who oppose the bill “don’t want to do what’s right for America.” That is, the bill is unquestionably right for America, and opposition to it displays a desire to harm America.
It’s not just the President, of course. His first pick for Labor Secretary, Linda Chavez, tells us what this debate is really about:
Some people just don’t like Mexicans — or anyone else from south of the border. They think Latinos are freeloaders and welfare cheats who are too lazy to learn English. They think Latinos have too many babies, and that Latino kids will dumb down our schools. They think Latinos are dirty, diseased, indolent and more prone to criminal behavior. They think Latinos are just too different from us ever to become real Americans.
No amount of hard, empirical evidence to the contrary, and no amount of reasoned argument or appeals to decency and fairness, will convince this small group of Americans — fewer than 10 percent of the general population, at most — otherwise. Unfortunately, among this group is a fair number of Republican members of Congress, almost all influential conservative talk radio hosts, some cable news anchors — most prominently, Lou Dobbs — and a handful of public policy “experts” at organizations such as the Center for Immigration Studies, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, NumbersUSA, in addition to fringe groups like the Minuteman Project.
Stripped bare, this is what the current debate on immigration reform is all about.
Granted, she claims that no more than 10% of Americans are racist. But then she seems to say that every public figure who opposes the bill falls within this small group of people. So I guess she’s not calling me a racist. Just easily influenced by racists.
Peggy Noonan, in an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal, lists some of President Bush’s allies on the bill, and their opinions of those who question its wisdom:
Sen. Lindsey Graham has said, “We’re gonna tell the bigots to shut up.” On Fox last weekend he vowed to “push back.” Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff suggested opponents would prefer illegal immigrants be killed; Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez said those who oppose the bill want “mass deportation.” Former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson said those who oppose the bill are “anti-immigrant” and suggested they suffer from “rage” and “national chauvinism.”
Noonan then tries to figure out why President Bush & Co. are pushing so hard for the bill:
They are trying to lay down markers for history. Having lost the support of most of the country, they are looking to another horizon. The story they would like written in the future is this: Faced with the gathering forces of ethnocentric darkness, a hardy and heroic crew stood firm and held high a candle in the wind. It will make a good chapter. Would that it were true!
I have a different theory, and it may be completely nuts, but here it is.
After the 2004 election, what was the number-one item on the president’s agenda? Social Security reform. The fact that the system–a Ponzi scheme that would be illegal if it weren’t publicly administered–is destined for collapse didn’t seem to bother Democrats, and the Republicans Bush should have been able to rely upon–most notably the perfidious Arlen Specter–ducked for cover. Editorials from the leading newspapers condemned his privatization “scheme” and the debate was thus framed and lost before it had begun.
But the problem is still here.
An article titled, “Rules ‘Hiding’ Trillions in Debt” recently appeared in USA Today. A few quotes:
The federal government recorded a $1.3 trillion loss last year — far more than the official $248 billion deficit — when corporate-style accounting standards are used, a USA TODAY analysis shows.
The loss reflects a continued deterioration in the finances of Social Security and government retirement programs for civil servants and military personnel. The loss — equal to $11,434 per household — is more than Americans paid in income taxes in 2006.
Modern accounting requires that corporations, state governments and local governments count expenses immediately when a transaction occurs, even if the payment will be made later.
The federal government does not follow the rule, so promises for Social Security and Medicare don’t show up when the government reports its financial condition.
Bottom line: Taxpayers are now on the hook for a record $59.1 trillion in liabilities, a 2.3% increase from 2006. That amount is equal to $516,348 for every U.S. household. By comparison, U.S. households owe an average of $112,043 for mortgages, car loans, credit cards and all other debt combined.
This hidden debt is the amount taxpayers would have to pay immediately to cover government’s financial obligations. Like a mortgage, it will cost more to repay the debt over time. Every U.S. household would have to pay about $31,000 a year to do so in 75 years.
The longer we take to address this problem, the worse it will get.
Is it possible that President Bush is taking a page out of the playbooks of European countries, whose runaway welfare states demand an ever-increasing population to stave off collapse?