I caught up with Grover Norquist, the head of Americans for Tax Reform, over the phone this afternoon. As usual, he did not disappoint.
According to Norquist, business groups, ranging from high-tech to farming to construction are all aggressively backing comprehensive immigration reform this time around, and that is making a huge difference. “The modern Republican Party has had a sea change,” Norquist averred, ” because the business community has come down with both feet very strong.”
In the old days, Norquist insisted, “a couple of loud mouths like [former Rep.] Tom Tancredo made a lot of noise,” and seemed to speak for all conservatives — but those days are over.
“This will move very quickly, very fast,” he predicted, noting that opinions on this issue have shifted more intensely than “any shift on gay marriage.”
Regarding the anxiously awaited immigration report from the Heritage Foundation, Norquist was quick to criticize Heritage’s 2007 study which used static analysis to score the likely economic impact of immigration reform. “When [Heritage vice president for research] Burt Pines was there, you couldn’t have gotten it out the door,” he said.
Lastly, Norquist was quick to paint opponents of immigration reform as the new fringe. He said conservatives see “Rubio, Rand Paul, Jeb Bush, and Reagan in one place — and Pat Buchanan in another.”