GOP Leaders Stomp GOP Voters on Amnesty

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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Polls show the GOP’s base is overwhelmingly opposed to President Barack Obama’s amnesty, yet the GOP’s business-backed leadership ruthlessly stomped on GOP legislators who opposed funding the amnesty in the 2015 government budget.

“The allegiance that Republicans have in Washington is to [lobbyists on] K Street, to big business, and they don’t give a damn about their constituents,” said Brent Bozell, chairman of the ForAmerica advocacy network.

“Executive amnesty is what they were elected to stop… [but] they punted on first down,” said Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of Tea Party Patriots.

“Everybody is opposed to the amnesty, and they’re not willing to take the steps” to fight it, said Dan Holler, the communications director for Heritage Action for America. If the GOP leadership had stepped up to fight, “all of last week and this week would have been spent talking Obama’s amnesty and how it is hugely unpopular,” he said.

The budget was signed by Obama on Tuesday, Dec. 16, five days after GOP House Speaker John Boehner divided his caucus — and defeated 67 GOP conservatives —- to pass Obama’s budget, complete with funding for the amnesty.

The self-inflicted split has been downplayed by the establishment media, which backs Obama’s welcome for illegal immigrants. That alliance means that much of the media is also backing business lobbyists’ push to get cheap labor for farms, canneries, meat-packing plants, universities, professions and blue-chips firms.

Polls show most Americans and many Democrats oppose the Obama amnesty. The opposition is particularly strong among Republicans.

A Pew survey released Dec. 11 showed that 82 percent of Republicans oppose Obama’s plan, which was announced Nov. 20. Only 15 percent of Republicans approve of the plan. Strong opinions were even more lopsided, 71 percent very strongly against, 7 percent very strongly for.

A Fox News survey released Dec. 11 said 90 percent of Republicans opposed Obama “bypassing Congress to make [immigration enforcement] changes.” Only nine percent of Republicans endorsed the Obama bypass around the constitution.

In September, a Washington Post survey showed that 89 percent of Republicans disapproved of Obama’s immigration policies, while only six percent approved. Strong opinions were 79 strongly opposed, 1 percent strongly supportive.

Unless stopped, Obama’s amnesty will provide work-permits, government aid and a fast-track to the ballot-box for 5 million illegals, plus a get-out-of-repatriation card for seven million other foreigners illegally living and working in the United States.

Obama’s amnesty adds at least 5 million legal workers to a glutted labor market.

Four million young Americans join the work force each year, where they face competition for jobs from 10 million unemployed Americans, roughly 10 million Americans who have given up looking for work, plus 1 million extra legal immigrants per year, plus almost 1 million university-trained guest-workers, plus 400,000 blue-collar guest workers on short-term visas, plus a growing wave of new labor-saving technology.

Partly because of the surplus labor supply, Americans’ wages have been flat for decades, and the number of native-born Americans with jobs in 2014 is lower than the number who held jobs in 2000.

Before the election and the budget debate, GOP leaders repeatedly declared their determined opposition to the amnesty.

”We are going to fight the president tooth and nail if he continues down this path,” House Speaker John Boehner said Nov. 13. “This is the wrong way to govern. … Our goal here is to stop the president from violating his own oath of office and violating the constitution.”

Obama is “just throwing a barrel of kerosene on a fire if he signs an amnesty order,” GOP chairman Reince Priebus told reporters at a Nov. 7 breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. It would be a constitutional “nuclear threat,” he said.

Those statements matched the poll numbers.

A late August poll by TIPP for International Business Daily showed that only 10 percent of Republicans said Obama “should sidestep congress and act on his own using executive orders.” But 85 percent of Republicans said he should work with Congress.

A Nov. 22-23 poll of 1,000 likely voters by Rasmussen said that 75 percent of Republicans oppose “the president’s new plan that nearly five million illegal immigrants be allowed to remain in this country legally and apply for jobs.” Only 19 percent of Republicans agreed with Obama’s amnesty.

A Nov. 20-23 YouGov poll taken as Obama announced his Nov. 20 amnesty showed 81 percent GOP disapproval, and 13 percent approval of Obama’s policy. Strong opinions were even more lopsided — four percent of Republicans strongly supported the plan while 61 percent strongly opposed the plan.

But at the critical moment, the GOP leadership —House Speaker, Rep. John Boehner and Sen. Mitch McConnell — didn’t even try to stop the amnesty. Instead, they used their clout to push through a year-long 2015 budget that doesn’t include any language that bars spending for the amnesty.

One goal, top aides said, is fund the government so the GOP Congress can focus on passing a rewrite of the tax code and bills to boost the inflow of foreign workers.

The 2015 budget bill provides taxpayer funding for Obama’s immigration agency until late February — but doesn’t prevent the agency from spending the routine fees paid by immigrants to execute the amnesty for illegal immigrants.

GOP leaders know they can’t pass a bill stopping the use of fees until late 2015, because any new anti-fee bill can be filibustered by Democrats and vetoed by Obama. Aides have said that Obama’s top second-term legislative priority is a rewrite of immigration law.

In the Senate, McConnell and his leadership team didn’t fight for a funding ban, and voted against a “point of order” by Sen. Ted Cruz, who asked if the funding bill was unconstitutional because it does not have the spending ban.

Cruz and other Senators cited popular opposition to the amnesty, but senior GOP aides said the objectors were causing problems for the party.

But Boehner and McConnell fought hard to include several other measures that boost banks, Wall Street, healthcare companies and their own fundraising.

When Democrats complained about the Wall Street measures, GOP legislators complained about the failure to stop the amnesty, Boehner and McConnell allied with Obama to overcome bipartisan opposition to the funding bill.

By Dec. 14, 67 of the 229 GOP representatives and 18 of 42 GOP Senators voted against the amnesty budget.

But they were overcome by the alliance between the GOP leadership, business groups, Obama and Democratic leaders.

The leaders’ rush to betray the GOP’s conservative base has widened the party’s deep split between its business or corporatist wing, and its small-government, social-conservative, populist and Tea Party wings.

“In the month before the election, Republican candidates ran 10,000 TV ads on amnesty promising to stop amnesty,” Bozell said. But once they were safely back in Congress, they quickly accepted the amnesty. This “rank dishonesty,” he said, could cost them the enthusiasm and support they need “to keep the Senate majority in 2016 and to win the presidential election,” he said.

By betraying their anti-amnesty promises, they demonstrated disdain for their base, he said. “They were ‘Gruberizing’ their base… [and saying] the American people were stupid.”

Corporatism is king,” said Conn Carroll, editor of Townhall magazine. “Republican leaders want to cave on amnesty… [and] Republican leaders lie.”

“The House Leadership’s behavior is baffling,” Jenny Martin said.

In November, “Republicans all across the country ran hard on opposition to amnesty, and were rewarded with historic majorities by the American people… [so] it was doubly baffling to squander that kind of political capital,” she said.

The GOP leaders’ “hope is that members and voters and activists will forget all about it over the course of the holidays,” said Dan Holler, the communications director for Heritage Action for America.

“Conservatives won’t forget,” he said, adding that “I don’t see how this doesn’t turn into presidential primary issue.”

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