Saturday, February 13, 2016

When Bernie Voted Against Ted Kennedy's Immigration Reform Bill

There are those who believe Bernie is not just another politician, he's rather some kind of Saint. Let me just say: in my mind being 'another politician' is not a curse word. 

But it is in the mouth of Bernie and his supporters. So he is held to be the one man of such pure and incorruptible motives that just elect him and all our political struggles will be over. Bernie is obviously a politician but he poises as a sort of immaculate politician. 

In an early piece today, we noted that he's being asked for answers on some of his donors by the FEC and this is not the first time either.

My problem with Bernie is this Holier Than Thou Immaculate poise. It's very scary to see this bought into. There are good and bad, better and worse politicians, but there are no Saints. Not in this world. 

On the question of immigration reform, Bernie certainly has shown himself to be 'just another politician. 

He claims that the reason he voted against Ted Kennedy's immigration reform along with the other Republicans and against Hillary, Obama, and most Democrats was his deep concern about the guest worker program. He worried that the guest workers would be treated like chattel slaves. 

But in 2007 he was given a quite different rationale for just saying no to immigration reform. 

"In Thursday night's debate, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders briefly exchanged words over his vote against the 2007 comprehensive immigration reform bill that John McCain and Ted Kennedy wrote and that both Clinton and Barack Obama supported, while Sanders and most Republicans plus some Democrats were opposed. Sanders cited as his motive opposition to the bill's guest worker provisions, which he said were bad because a Southern Poverty Law Center investigation had likened conditions in existing agricultural guest worker programs to slavery."

"It's interesting to compare this with what he said about the bill at the time on Lou Dobbs's show. Dobbs, for those who've forgotten, was a business news broadcaster who refashioned himself as a somewhat Trump-esque anti-immigration, anti–trade deal populist in the mid-aughts."

"Yes, the very fact that this was what he said to Lou Dobbs, doesn't bode well as like Yglesias notes, Dobbs was always rabidly anti immigration."

"If you watch the interview you'll see that Sanders isn't particularly interested in working conditions for guest workers and he's also not narrowly focused on the H2 programs the SPLC report was about — he also talks about H1 programs for skilled workers that, whatever their flaws, are clearly not slavery."

"Dobbs is opposed to the whole idea of "amnesty," which Sanders was not, but Sanders also doesn't argue with Dobbs about it. Sanders doesn't really say anything about the costs and benefits to immigrants themselves — whether that's people who've been living illegally in the United States or potential future guest workers — one way or another. His focus is on the idea that "what happens in Congress is to a very significant degree dictated by big-money interests" and that "I don't know why we need millions of people to be coming into this country as guest workers who will work for lower wages than American workers and drive wages down even lower than they are now."

And that is his true issue with immigration reform. This is what he had said to Ezra Klein earlier in the year: that low wage immigrants depress American wages.

This remains an issue-he believes that guest workers depress the wages of American workers-something that most economists don't agree with.

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