Bad and good advice for the GOP on Latinos

Ted Cruz - wikipediaMay 2, 2013

By John Seiler

Obviously, the Republican Party needs to do more to attract Latino voters. But it’s getting bad advice from many quarters on what to do. I have some good advice at the end of the article

The latest bad advice is in The Atlantic on line by Gerald L. Cadava, “a professor of history at Northwestern University professor of history and author of the forthcoming ‘Standing on Common Ground: The Making of a Sunbelt Borderland.'”

His article is titled, “The GOP Doesn’t Need Hispanic Outreach — It Needs a Hispanic Takeover.” But Latinos currently are about 13 percent of the U.S. population. And about two-thirds of Latinos are Democratic. Which means Republicans are only about 7 percent Latino. So how can 7 percent take over 93 percent?

Cadava writes:

“The debate over an immigration-reform bill has given us a glimpse into the emerging war within the Republican Party. On one side are those sensitive to the party’s demographics problem, who support a compromise. On the other are those who continue to oppose any bill that includes tens of thousands of work visas and a pathway to citizenship for immigrants.”

Actually, the real situation, as I have written, is that the immigration bill is pages of governmentese. Nobody knows what’s really in it, especially the Gang of 8 authors, which include four Republican U.S. senators. If the senators produce a 10-page bill written in plain language, then the conversation could begin. Otherwise, it’s just rhetoric.

The professor writes:

“Since Mitt Romney’s defeat in November, Republicans have worried about how to woo Latino voters. In a postmortem analysis of the election, the RNC concluded that the Republican Party needed to be more “inclusive and welcoming.” Many conservatives looked nostalgically back to 2004, when more than 40 percent of Latinos voted for George W. Bush, compared to Romney’s 27 percent. They believe that Latinos are naturally conservative, and are sure to line up in the ‘R’ column if the party can just fix its image with them.”

Actually, Bush’s 40 percent in 2004 wasn’t all that great, and was a fluke anyway. It was the first general election after 9/11. He won a large number of Latinos in Texas, where he was governor; and in Florida, where his brother Jeb was governor, and where most Latinos were Cuban exiles who long had been part of the GOP’s anti-communist coalition. But Cuban-Americans now are moving toward the Democratic Party.

Cadava mentions Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. Let’s face it, Rubio is a lightweight. He’s not going to be nominated.

Cruz, on the other hand, is a serious presidential contender. He obviously would win his Lone Star State. And his appeal would extend to Latinos outside of Texas, especially in such “swing” states as Colorado and Ohio. But probably not near enough to win Democratic states with a lot of Latinos, especially New York, Illinois and California.

Real problem

The real problem for Republicans is one the professor doesn’t bring up: Although sometimes good at the local level, at the national level the party really isn’t all that attractive to anybody, in any group. And it hasn’t been since Reagan left office. That’s because it keeps sending out mixed messages.

The GOP’s basic message now is: “We want less government and lower taxes — except we don’t.” On Jan. 1, the Republican leadership in Congress, House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, brokered a tax increase deal with President Obama that hit middle-class families with a higher tax bill of $1,000 a year. They boosted the top income tax rate to 39 percent from 35 percent. Many Republicans in Congress now are backing an Internet tax, dividing their party.

And of course, Republicans controlling the House have not kept their pledge do repeal Obamacare, which now is digging in and destroying jobs.

Immigration policy

This is where immigration comes in. When President Reagan signed the last immigration reform bill in 1986, the economy was booming. That year he cut the top income tax rate from 50 percent to 28 percent — 11 points less than the percentage Boehner and McConnell agreed to four months ago. Reagan increased the economic pie so the slices were bigger for everyone, including immigrants.

By contrast, the economy has declined or stagnated for more than five years now. That means more people are struggling for ever-shrinking pieces of the pie. The national unemployment rate of 7.6 percent in March remains stubbornly high for this period in a “recovery.”

Republicans now are saying they’ll support immigration reform once it’s clear the system won’t be abused again, as after the 1986 reform, requiring an even bigger amnesty in the future. But giving amnesty now to 11 million illegal immigrants means more competition for scarce jobs — just as a new recession might hit. Economic growth was 0.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012; and 2.5 percent in the first quarter of 2013.

Reaganomics redux

If Republicans want to matter again, including to Latinos, they need to bring back the policies of the Reagan era.

First, enough with the tax increases! That’s what Democrats are for. (Yes, I know Reagan increased some taxes. But overall, everybody got tax cuts from him. The top income tax rate dropped from 70 percent to 28 percent.)

Second, Republicans running the House need to insist on cutting government programs, beginning with Obamacare. What if Obama shuts down the government? Declare it a national holiday of joy!

Third, Republicans should tie immigration reform to economic growth.  Say, unemployment would be below 5 percent and average incomes going up at least 2 percent a year. Make sure the pie is growing again before more slices are handed out.

Such a program would attract Latinos — and everybody else.



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