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Hullabaloo


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

 
Scott Walker Neocon.  Neoconfederate, that is.

by digby

I wrote a little bit about Scott Walker's startling comments about curbing legal immigration for Salon this morning.  Among other things, I pointed out this:
It’s hard not to fall down laughing (or lose your lunch) over the most notorious union buster in America waxing on about protecting American jobs, but he’s the last person to understand the irony of his comments. But by taking a position against legal immigration, he’s just placed himself to the right of Ted Cruz on this issue. He’s out in Ben Carson land. Not to mention that he’s obliterated the last tattered shreds of a conservative argument to appeal to Hispanic and other ethnic groups: the idea that illegal immigration is unfair to legal immigrants who’ve been “waiting in line” to come to this country. Walker wants to close down the line altogether. Only the most hardcore neo-Confederates like Sessions want to go that far.

Igor Bobic in the Huffington Post explained the possible reasoning:
By aligning himself with an immigration hawk like Sessions, Walker may be hoping to placate conservatives wary over his previous support for a pathway to citizenship for many undocumented immigrants. Walker’s strategy is somewhat reminiscent of then-Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who, faced with similar questions over his devotion to the conservative cause in 2011, memorably tacked far right of his GOP rivals by endorsing ‘self-deportation.’ Yet not even Romney, who lost the Latino vote to Obama by more than 40 percentage points in November 2012, supported curbing legal immigration, a concept at the core of what it means to be American.
A bunch of Republican senators were appalled when they heard about this. (They can count votes …) Talking Points Memo got them on the record:

Arizona Senator John McCain: “I think most statistics show that they fill part of the workforce that are much needed. We have, and I’m a living example of, the aging population. We need these people in the workforce legally.

Utah Senator Orrin Hatch: “I basically think that’s poppycock. We know that when we graduate PhDs and master’s degrees and engineers, we don’t have enough of any of those. … The fact is you can always point to some negatives, but the positives are that we need an awful lot more STEM [science, technology, engineering, and mathematics] people. … Frankly a lot of us are for legal immigration and for solving this problem.

Ohio Senator Rob Portman: “We want legal immigration. … As a party we’ve always embraced immigrants coming here legally, following the rules. And it’s enriched our country immeasurably. It’s who we are. It’s the fabric of our success.”

Senate Republican Conference Chair John Thune: “I think if you talk to businesses in this country, they need workers. We have a workforce issue in this country and I know in my home state of South Dakota where the unemployment rate is 2.3 percent, they can’t find workers. So having a robust legal immigration process helps us fill jobs that otherwise wouldn’t be getting filled.”

But recall that Walker said explicitly that he’s working with Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions on this issue. And Jeff Sessions had a lot to say about this in his “IMMIGRATION HANDBOOK FOR THE NEW REPUBLICAN MAJORITY” dated January 2015. It’s a fascinating document and well worth reading. It is the perfect example of right-wing populism at its most traditionally xenophobic.

He sets forth an argument that income inequality is not a result of the tax structure or the concentrated power of wealth but rather the result of immigrants stealing the jobs of natural born Americans:
The last four decades have witnessed the following: a period of record, uncontrolled immigration to the United States; a dramatic rise in the number of persons receiving welfare; and a steep erosion in middle class wages.

But the only “immigration reforms” discussed in Washington are those pushed by interest groups who want to remove what few immigration controls are left in order to expand the record labor supply even further.

The principal economic dilemma of our time is the very large number of people who either are not working at all, or not earning a wage great enough to be financially independent. The surplus of available labor is compounded by the loss of manufacturing jobs due to global competition and reduced demand for workers due to automation. What sense does it make to continue legally importing millions of low-wage workers to fill jobs while sustaining millions of current residents on welfare?
He put it into philosophical and historical perspective:
We need make no apology in rejecting an extreme policy of sustained mass immigration, which the public repudiates and which the best economic evidence tells us undermines wage growth and economic mobility. Here again, the dialect operates in reverse: the “hardliners” are those who refuse even the most modest immigration controls on the heels of four decades of large-scale immigration flows (both legal and illegal), and increased pressures on working families.

Conservativism is by its nature at odds with the extreme, the untested, the ahistorical. The last large-scale flow of legal immigration (from approximately 1880–1920) was followed by a sustained slowdown that allowed wages to rise, assimilation to occur, and the middle class to emerge.
This is heady stuff for the base of the GOP. It’s very much the essence of the kind of right-wing populism we’ve seen in the past and there’s been interest in this idea within the party for a very long time. The usurpation of Eric Cantor was arguably the first shot across the bow of the Republican leadership on this issue for 2016. There’s little doubt that base agitation over immigration was one of the animating issues that led to his demise. If you listen to talk radio, the tone is still nearly hysterical. So there’s an audience for this message.
There's more at the link.  Once again I'm stunned at how impressed everyone is with Scott Walker. Unless he some kind of diabolical genius who's 15 moves ahead, he just seems to step in it over and over again.  But the question is, if the media love him does it even matter?

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