Election 2016 Immigration

The Milquetoast That Is Jeb Bush

After years of waiting in the wings and pretending to be a voice of moderation who should not be associated with the machinations of the Tea Party, Jeb Bush has revealed that he is positively Romney-esque in his willingness to compromise his beliefs by the hour, and by the audience, to pivot into a nomination.

Benjy Sarlin of TPM has the highlights from Bush’s new book wherein he came out against a path to citizenship for immigrants.

On why providing healthcare to the naturalized citizens who are the children of immigrants is a terrible thing:

“This is why the Obama administration’s attempt to coerce states to adopt a major Medicaid expansion as part of its national health-care program had the effect of inflaming anti-immigration sentiment,” he and co-author Clint Bolick write. “Although the administration assured the states that illegal immigrants would not be eligible for Medicaid benefits, their children who are born in the United States are eligible because they are citizens. Moreover, if illegal immigrants are offered a path to citizenship or permanent legal residency, eventually they will become eligible as well. Fortunately the US Supreme Court struck down the Medicaid expansion by a 7-2 vote as unduly coercive and therefore contrary to constitutional principles of federalism. The proposal should not be resurrected.”

On relegating immigrants to a permanent second class status:

“Permanent residency in this context, however, should not lead to citizenship,” Bush writes. “It is absolutely vital to the integrity of our immigration system that actions have consequences — in this case, that those who violated the laws can remain but cannot obtain the cherished fruits of citizenship.”

And even though a significant portion of the book is centered around explaining why we should deal with immigration by sweeping it under the rug again, he attacks Romney for blundering on the issue:

“By sharply criticizing Texas governor Rick Perry for his in-state tutition program for certain children of illegal immigrants, and by making his leading immigration adviser a prominent proponent of ‘self-deportation,’ Mitt Romney moved so far to the right on immigration issues that it proved all but impossible for him to appeal to Hispanic voters in the general election,” they write. “However little or much anti-immigration rhetoric counts in Republican primaries, it surely succeeds in alienating Hispanic voters come the general election.”

Jeb Bush apparently wants to have his cake and eat it too, because while he concedes that the Republican party does have a problem with Hispanic voters and while he does entertain the idea of doing something about it, what he is proposing is to either codify the status quo into law or, in the case of healthcare, take a giant step backwards.

Attempting to straddle this highwire where you’re both for and against fixing our immigration system will open Bush up to a load of criticism from both the Left and the Right, and what was Romney’s weakness (standing for everything, and nothing) will be Bush’s weakness.

Bush, by the way, has evidently already pivoted on a path to citizenship less than 24 hours after the release of his book.