Stars. They’re not like you! Ryan Lizza’s New Yorker piece on the Gang of 8’s immigration efforts [behind paywall] contains a seemingly inflammatory quote from an unnamed aide to Marco Rubio:
“‘There are American workers who, for lack of a better term, can’t cut it,’ a Rubio aide told me. ‘There shouldn’t be a presumption that every American worker is a star performer. There are people who just can’t get it, can’t do it, don’t want to do it. And so you can’t obviously discuss that publicly.'”
It’s a bad enough quote that Gang-of-8 cheerleader Jonathan Chait was worried. “[T]here’s a reason nobody in politics ever says anything like this,” he noted, in a piece titled “The Gaffe That Threatens Immigration Reform.” In response, Team Rubio began “pushing back hard,” according to both Rich Lowry and Matt Lewis, insisting that
“the aide was describing some industries’ response to unions’ opposition to temp workers”
“Pushing back hard” turned out to have been a big mistake. In response, Lizza has released a partial transcript of his interview, showing that Rubio’s aide’s comments weren’t as bad as depicted. They were worse. Here’s an excerpt:
Ryan Lizza: Well, their argument is, what, that they have American workers for these jobs, they don’t need this program.
Rubio Aide 1: Yeah. I mean, one of the problems you have with this, “Oh there’s American workers who are unemployed.” There are American workers who, for lack of a better term, can’t cut it. There shouldn’t be a presumption that every American worker is a star performer. There are people who just can’t get it, can’t do it, don’t want to do it. [etc., etc.] ….
Rubio Aide 2: But the same is true for the high-skilled workers.
Rubio Aide 1: Yes, and the same is true across every sector, in government, in everything.
The aide wasn’t describing “industries’ response.” He was making his (or her) own response to the argument that “they have American workers for these jobs.” The response was, basically, that the unemployed Americans lining up for jobs aren’t “star” performers, so we shouldn’t expect employers to hire them. And the aide wasn’t talking of particular industries. He was talking about “every sector.”
Shorter Rubio aide: There’s a reason unemployed Americans are unemployed. They aren’t star performers. Screw ‘em. We’re bringing in workers from abroad!
This is what opponents of the Gang of 8 have been arguing is the philosophy behind its proposed giant increase in the immigrant work force. Good to have confirmation.
P.S.: Maybe Rubio flack Alex Conant will have a devastating response. Ball is in his court. Maybe Team Rubio wil throw an aide overboard. But if Chait was worried before, he should be panicking now. …