Morning Examiner: DeMint vs Rubio for the soul of the Republican Party

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Jim DeMintA battle has been brewing in the Republican Party for some time, long before President Obama was re-elected this past November. On one side is the big business Washington establishment represented by K Street lobbyists and the Chamber of Commerce. On the other side are populist, main street, grassroots conservatives represented by the Tea Party and Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint. Few issues divide the Republican Party more clearly along these lines than immigration reform. And this week, the battle just got ugly.

Grover Norquist, who took thousands of dollars from former-lobbyist and convicted fraudster Jack Abramoff, has long been an advocate of granting amnesty to the millions of illegal immigrants currently in the United States today. And National Review reports that Norquist has stepped up his amnesty campaign since Obama won four more years in the White House this November. Norquist is now hosting weekly Friday meetings with other Republican groups like the Chamber of Commerce that support importing cheap labor from other countries no matter how high the unemployment rate is. Using a curious set of analogies, Norquist recently told NR, “The idea of treating people as a liability — that more people coming in might go on welfare — that’s an argument against having babies, that’s an argument for car accidents, an argument for abortion.”

Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint, who opposes amnesty and earned perfect scores from the National Right to Life Committee when he served in the Senate, must be surprised to learn that, according to Grover, he is an abortionist.

Norquist’s organization, Americans for Tax Reform, even directly attacked Heritage on Monday when they sent a memo to Republican staffers on Capitol Hill calling Heritage’s 2007 immigration research, showing that low-skilled immigrants cost state and federal governments trillions in new welfare spending, “severely flawed.” Instead, ATR pointed Republicans to research done by Cato purporting to show that poor immigrants use public benefits at a lower rate than poor native-born citizens.

Republicans on Capitol Hill should examine both The Heritage Foundation and Cato studies and make up their own minds But they should also note that, while the author of Heritage’s immigration research, Robert Rector, is widely credited with helping to pass welfare reform in the 1990s, the author of the Cato paper, Leighton Ku, is a liberal who supported Obamacare, personally worked on implementing Obamacare, and is still is advocating for conservative states to accept Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion.

In case their is any doubt where each side stands, The New York Times reports today that Al Cardenas, another long-time amnesty advocate, has been using the American Conservative Union’s good name, to solicit money from business groups that support big government spending. “In a draft proposal circulated to defense and transportation industry executives in recent weeks, the union is offering to use its grass-roots organization, annual conference and movement clout to lobby against cuts to federal military and infrastructure spending,” The New York Times reports.

Republicans who still claim to be part of the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party should really take a close look at who their fellow immigration reform allies are. In particular, does Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., really want to be branded as a member of the K Street, Chamber of Commerce, John McCain/Lindsey Graham wing of the Republican Party.

The Gang of Ocho is supposedly set to unveil their immigration bill sometime next week. We’ll see where Rubio stands soon.


Conn Carroll

Senior Editorial Writer

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  1. 1
    Herb says:

    Norquist is suspect at best. Cathie Adams of the Texas Eagle Forum made some strong points about his activities. I don’t trust him.


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