Conservative commentators Laura Ingraham and George Will can usually be counted on to agree on most issues, but on “Fox News Sunday,” the two sparred over immigration reform, an issue threatening to rip apart the uneasy alliance between the traditional and libertarian wings of the Republican Party.
Fox host Chris Wallace began the discussion — which also included AP reporter Julie Pace and liberal commentator Juan Williams — by noting that Republican leadership seems to be rethinking the wisdom of partnering with President Obama on comprehensive immigration reform. Many conservative bulwarks — including the Wall Street Journal — argued that avoiding immigration reform would hurt the economy and make the GOP appear unwelcoming to minorities.
“The Wall Street Journal attacked, in that editorial, talk radio and the people rising up against this, and John Boehner cowering,” Ingraham began. “As far as I can tell, the Wall Street Journal is on the side of Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Barack Obama, Pat Leahy and La Raza. Talk radio, for the most part, is on the side of, yes, Heritage, probably other Tea Party-type groups, most Republican senators and congressmen and I think the lion’s share of the American people.”
“So I’m gonna frame that editorial from the Wall Street Journal. I think they should put down their dog-eared copy of ‘The Fountainhead,’ and actually live in the real world where people’s wages are falling,” she said, taking a subtle swipe at libertarian Republicans infatuated with the Ayn Rand novel. She went on to note the “middle ground on immigration is enforcement,” bemoaning a lack of border control and laws that allow illegal immigrants to receive special benefits.
Will claimed that Ingraham’s points are moot due to the country’s particular “need” for immigration reform.
“The welfare state NEEDS its workforce replenished,” he argued. “As the elderly retire, ten thousand baby boomers become eligible every day for Social Security and Medicare. Second, there’s an intense global competition for human capital, and we’re losing out on that. Third, to immigrate is to make an entrepreneurial act. It’s to uproot yourself and perhaps your family and take a risk, and those are the kinds of people –”
At that point, Ingraham felt compelled to interrupt:
INGRAHAM: Do we care about American workers at all? And their jobs, and their wages and their dreams?
WILL: Laura, you’re the one who’s arguing the AFL-CIO argument, which is —
INGRAHAM: They’re for it!
WILL: No, but they’re for it with so many caveats they nullify it.
INGRAHAM: But why have borders?
WILL: You’re arguing the zero-sum game —
WILL: When, in the lives of our children and grandchildren, there are 500 million Americans, they’re all going to be working! Because we’re gonna have economic dynamism, aided by immigration!
INGRAHAM: So the argument, though, leads to, ‘Why have borders at all?’ Why have a border if it’s just about people as widgets, who come in and are workers without really a concern about assimilation, without concern about how it affects people in middle America. I mean, a lot of people who are in favor of [immigration reform] don’t send their kids to public schools, are not affected by illegal immigration at all.
But I would submit that there are people who are watching this show right now who are screaming at the top of their lungs saying, ‘Who is Washington is representing my interests?’ The labor shortage argument that Paul Ryan is making, that we have an impending labor shortage — I think, transparently, it is ridiculous to most people, today. We don’t have participation in the workforce as it is!
WILL: It’s not a shortage. It’s growth we want!
Ingraham later added that, “There’s no will to enforce the border, there is no faith in this administration to do it, and the Republican elites and the Democratic elites agree, and the people are revolting across this country.”
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