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Dana Milbank at The Washington Post looks at how new Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint is shaping an immigration policy that undermines what has historically brought folks to America's shores:
“There’s a statement at the bottom of the Statue of Liberty,”  said the former Republican senator who just took over as chief of the powerful think tank. “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses . . . ” He and his colleagues then went on to outline their version of immigration reform: No poor and huddled need apply. [...]

If Republicans don’t find a way to deal with illegal immigrants in the country, they risk political oblivion as the swelling ranks of Latino voters turn against them. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) recognized this in reaching a bipartisan agreement to allow legalization — a proposal being denounced by the right.[...] “The only approach that can work at this point is to have a piece-by-piece approach to create a merit-based, selective, lawful immigration system,” he said.

Never mind the rest of that Lazarus inscription DeMint cited, the bit about accepting “the wretched refuse” and the “homeless, tempest-tossed.” Now they’ll need a diploma.

Here's The Washington Post editorial board on the flawed Heritage report claiming that immigration "newly legalized immigrants would cost $6.3 trillion more in benefits over their lifetime than they would pay in taxes":
There’s no question that granting the full range of government benefits to illegal immigrants — even if they become eligible for citizenship 13 or 15 years from now — will impose long-range fiscal costs. However, most economists say the costs of illegal immigration would be far outweighed by the benefits of legalization for overall economic activity,growth,business start-ups and labor market efficiency. [...]

Influential Republicans, including Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and former Mississippi governor Haley Barbour, rolled their eyes at the Heritage report with varying degrees of politeness. [...]

[L]awmakers should bear in mind that waves of previous immigrants — Irish, Italians, Jews, Germans and others — have been greeted by prophesies of doom. Still, the United States thrived — with the help of those same poorly paid, roughly educated newcomers whose integration triggered such derision.

Head below the fold for more on the Heritage Foundation's disastrous rollout.

Lisa Mascaro at The Los Angeles Times has a really great piece looking at Marco Rubio's hard sell of immigration reform to his party's base:

In many ways the future of the bill, which heads to committee this week, depends on the performance of this boyish-looking son of Cuban immigrants, this tea party favorite, who is uniquely positioned to spread the message.

"What we have right now is a legal immigration system that is broken," Rubio began, as diners pushed aside empty $125 surf and turf plates to listen.[...] Many of the people here illegally did not "jump the fence," he continued, but overstayed their visas. The bill, he explained, would fix this systemic flaw by tracking not just visa entries but exits. [..]

There was a quiet tension in the hall as Rubio stood on stage. The county GOP's banner hung behind him on red velvet curtains.

"It is not my fault, by the way," he said, cutting through the silence. "The decisions that led to that happening were made when I was in ninth grade."

And if Jennifer Rubin is attacking the "intellectual integrity" of the Heritage Foundation and immigration reform advocates...well...
If you listen to anti-immigration voices (and let’s be clear — the vast majority oppose an  increase in legal immigration), you’d think immigration is hugely unpopular with the base and will be enormously expensive. These are both false and so easily proved that you have to question the intellectual integrity of those parroting these talking points. [...]

The Heritage Foundation will be out shortly with a study that will preposterously claim that the Gang of 8 reform will cost more than $2 trillion. Understand that there are about 11 million people who may be legalized. Really — each one is going to cost the taxpayers about half a million bucks and contribute nothing? The Cato Institute has already come up with a detailed pre-rebuttal of Heritage’s work. And, ironically, even the Congressional Budget Office can figure out that with dynamic scoring of the type pioneered by Heritage (when it was an intellectual trailblazer for conservatives), the country and the Treasury come out ahead. Such are the perils of a once-respected think tank hiring a reactionary pol instead of a bona fide scholar to head its institution.

Pat Garofalo at US News:
Heritage analysts even freely admit that their estimate isn't of the gang of eight's specific proposal, but about some phantom comprehensive reform bill. Adding in one more level of absurdity, Heritage chose not to use so-called "dynamic scoring" when assessing the impact of immigration reform, even though most of the time it screams bloody murder when dynamic scoring is not used to figure out how much a bill might cost.

So Heritage is not really trying to figure out what immigration reform will actually do to the economy; it is just giving the right-wing base a number to wield as a cudgel. But this time, other conservatives, rather than progressives, are trying to show Heritage's politics-dressed-up-as-math for what it really is. Those of us on the other end of the political spectrum just get to sit back and watch.

Switching topics, Eugene Robinson looks at the argument that the U.S. should engage in a military intervention in Syria:
For all the armchair generals advocating U.S. military intervention in Syria, I have a few questions:

Is human suffering the reason for the United States to act? That is the noblest and most altruistic of motives, and the estimated 70,000 lives that have been lost in Syria constitute a tragedy. But is there a numerical benchmark that constitutes a trigger for intervention?

The editors at The Clarion-Ledger call for reinvesting in NASA and "shooting for the moon, Mars":
Since the shuttering of the shuttle program, it seems as if NASA has been without a true mission and that the U.S. had lost its sense of wonder and exploration. [...] we hope that NASA will once again return to the heavens of our own devices in a ship that is a worthy successor to the shuttle.

We hope that a new generation of children will one day stare fascinated at videos and photos of space exploration, talk about science fiction as fact, and dream of one day walking on the moon, or on an asteroid or — we hope within a generation — on Mars.

Humans are explorers, and Americans even more so. NASA represents that exploration, and we hope that Palazzo and others will rise to the challenge of changing dreams into realities by pushing forward a bold new agenda of space exploration and providing the financial resources to see it achieved.

Jonathan Bernstein highlights a study that confirms what a lot of folks in the game already know - TV ads don't have a massive impact on most high-profile races:
Granted, if it’s Bush/Gore 2000, every tiny bit could flip an election. But for normal presidential elections, in battleground states where both candidates have plenty of money to spend, what this basically means is that there’s no effect. Even if one side had far more ads it would make only a very small difference, and in the real world they just cancel each other out. [...]

So the less information there is otherwise, the more ads are likely to matter. The biggest piece of information for most of us is right there on the ballot: the party of the candidate (that’s sort of like knowing whether a restaurant serves Italian or Chinese; it’s enough in most cases, for most people, to make a decision, especially if it’s the only information we have). So in regular, partisan, general elections, we wouldn’t expect huge effects from ads; the more information available, the less the effect. In nonpartisan elections or primaries, or in general elections with very little other information, ads should be relatively more important.

So keep all of that in mind the next time you read news coverage of how important campaign ads are — or the next time you consider donating to a campaign. Money doesn’t dominate elections nearly as much as some of the news coverage would suggest — but in the right context, ads can still have very large effects.


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