Sounds like the summer of 2007 all over again. Replace "bailout for Wall Street" with "amnesty for illegal immigrants," and here we go again.
As the pervasive rot of corruption that has spread throughout the nation’s financial institutions finally began to pay its brutal dividend, the president and Congress again turned to the same page in the dog-eared playbook they used in their failed bid to pass the most massive amnesty in the history of nations. And they called the same play: throwing a hail Mary pass while telling the country they had no choice.
Last summer, the word was that Americans had to accept amnesty as the only solution to the problem of the tens of millions of illegal immigrants already here. This autumn, the same crew insists that Americans really have no choice but to buy up the worthless loans Wall Street grew fat selling.
Last summer, it was a free pass to 12 million illegal immigrants; this autumn it is forking over more than $700 billion – and in both cases the numbers are pure Washington window dressing for crises far more expensive. Detailed estimates indicate the number of illegal immigrants in the United States today could be more than twice as large as the official government figure of 12 million. And the $700 billion price tag to the bailout? A Treasury spokesman, speaking to Forbes magazine, actually admitted: "It’s not based on any data point. We just wanted to choose a really large number." Mr. Bush isn’t so much a president these days as he is a waiter: laying the outrageous tabs for government failures on the taxpayers’ table without even asking if we enjoyed the meal. The next time he addresses the nation he should put on an apron and tell us an 18 percent gratuity has been added to the bill for our convenience.
Once again it fell to a bulwark of Republicans in the House, assisted by nearly 100 Democrats who bolted from their leadership, to stop this epic bailout in its tracks – at least temporarily – in much the same way they killed last year’s frenzied drive for amnesty.
The bitter blowback of absolute disgust by the American people fueled the dissidents in Congress, causing them to again look nervously over their shoulders back to their home districts and even from the Potomac they could see the silhouettes of pitchforks in the glowing torchlight.
But the similarities between the feverish demand for amnesty and the bailout go far beyond how the president and the Congress responded to the crisis. It exposes their willingness to allow a crisis to grow in front of them as they idle away precious opportunities until the storm breaks in a devastating landfall across the nation.
Illegal immigration was already a problem spiraling out of control when President Bush was sworn into office in January 2001. Yet for six consecutive years following the September 11 terrorist attacks, Mr. Bush and Congress have watched passively as the southern border has been overwhelmed by violent chaos amid a mass exodus of economic refugees from Mexico and Latin America.
As more than 1 million illegal immigrants poured across the southern border every year, the president and Congress brazenly surrendered control of our frontier for one reason: the short-term profit of business.
Thus, Mr. Bush and Congress have steadfastly looked the other way as businesses jacked up profits by harnessing a massive, cheap and exploitable labor pool of illegal immigrants; one that drove wages down for working Americans. The safeguards to ensure that businesses abide by labor and immigration laws were effectively ignored.
Yet, just as the corruption in the mortgage meltdown stretches from lenders deep into a large segment of Americans that knowingly bought homes they couldn’t afford, it isn’t just business that profits from illegal immigration.
Americans looking for cheaper gardeners, nannies and handymen embraced illegal-immigrant labor, like many of them did the hustle of subprime mortgages and "quick and easy" credit lines. Contractors cut citizens out of the homebuilding market to boost their own profits, and many homeowners in turn cut citizens out of home-maintenance jobs to get a better deal.
The price tag of illegal immigration for working Americans has been equally devastating. Taxpayers are covering tens of billions of dollars annually for illegal immigrants’ health care, education and a host of other social services. Billions more in tax dollars are spent each year on incarcerating illegal immigrants.
The fundamental similarities in the federal government’s response to the meltdown of the financial markets and the continuing debacle of illegal immigration reveals this nation’s bipartisan leadership is at best incompetent in handling the critical challenges facing America.
At worst they are accomplices to these disasters, ominous as that idea is. And if the outcome were not intentional, letting it happen in spite of all the warning signs is inexcusable – something to consider in these very grave times.
Mark Cromer is a senior writing fellow for Californians for Population Stabilization.