On Sunday’s “Meet the Press,” Idaho Republican Rep. Raul Labrador and New York Times columnist David Brooks got into a tense back-and-forth over Republican opposition to the immigration reform bill that the Senate passed last month.
According to Brooks, GOP opposition was intellectually weak if one took into account the Congressional Budget Office’s calculations.
“You know, I’ve seen a lot of intellectually weak cases in this town,” Brooks said. “I’ve rarely seen as intellectually a weak case as the case against the Senate immigration bill. The Republicans say they want to reduce illegal immigration. The Congressional Budget Office says the Senate bill will reduce it by a third to half. They say they want economic growth. All the top conservative economists say it’ll produce economic growth. They say they want to reduce the debt. The CBO says it will reduce the debt. All the big major objectives the Republicans stand for, the Senate immigration bill will do. And so, the other things they’re talking about are secondary and tertiary issues. Whether we get 86 percent border protection or 90 percent — compared to the big things this bill does, they’re miniscule.”
Labrador responded to Brooks’ criticisms, pointing out that the Senate’s bill with its weaker border security mechanisms meant illegal immigration would still pose a problem.
“I’m sorry, what I just heard was totally ridiculous,” Labrador said. “If you listen to what the CBO said — they said that it’s going to be between one-third and 50 percent reduction in illegal immigration. That means that every five years we’re going to have to do another amnesty. What the American people want is a secure border. They understand there is going to be economic growth and I agree that there’s going to be economic growth when you have immigration reform. That is why I’m a big proponent of immigration reform. But for somebody to sit here on national TV and say that it is actually a weak argument for us to argue that we want something like 90-percent security — I think is beyond the pale.”
Brooks reacted, leading to a heated exchange between the two.
BROOKS: The CBO said it would reduce it by a third to 50 percent, and what I heard the congressman saying is he won’t support it unless it’s 100 percent because we’d have to go back and do a Reagan.”
LABRADOR: That’s not what I said. Don’t put words in my mouth.
BROOKS: Well, let me say, the current law produces x much illegal immigration. This law cuts it significantly. It’s better than the current law. Generally when something is better than what we got, generally you want to support that thing.