Romney, Rubio, and the Wrongness of Republicans on Latino Issues
Earlier this week, Rubio and Romney came together to address a Latino Coalition Summit in the US Chamber of Commerce in Washington DC. Romney has given up on trying to win Latinos over with rhetoric on immigration, the DREAM Act or SB 1070, and so didn’t mention a single one of them. Instead, he has now tried to address family concerns in public education. He talked about how we’re the richest nation on earth, but many of our children are getting a third world education. He expanded on this, claiming that the biggest problem is teacher’s unions blocking much-needed reform.
Unfortunately for him, Romney then immediately followed this up with a visit to a charter school in Philadelphia. He then told a group of teachers that he had some research from the US and other countries which showed that the class size didn’t really affect outcomes for the classes. The teachers then calmly stated that they had never heard a teacher or a parent saying that they wanted more children per teacher. Add this gaff to things like him wanting to replace special education with a voucher program and his plans to cut spending on education, and it doesn’t seem likely that he can use education to appeal to Latinos, who are more dependent on public education than the general public.
Latino voters are still siding strongly with Obama, with a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal/Telemundo poll putting the contest at 61% to 27%. This is actually the highest he’s been polling with Latinos that I’ve seen, however, it’s still pretty unimpressive. This isn’t particularly surprising though: he’s gained a few people after becoming the nominee, however, his Latino support will most likely be capped at the number of Cubans who will vote Republican no matter what he does after his “self-deportation” stance, promised veto of the DREAM Act and saying that SB 1070 should be a model for the nation. When looking at all these numbers, however, it’s important to know that Latinos are less enthusiastic to vote than the general public, with the above poll finding 68% of Latinos were enthusiastic about this election, compared to 81% of the general public.
“Americans have never been a people that drive through a nice neighborhood and say ‘oh I hate the people who live in these nice houses,’ Americans have been a people who drive through a nice neighborhood and say ‘Congratulations on your nice house, guess what, we will be joining you soon.’” This quote from the senate floor encapsulates a very specific ignorance that Marco Rubio pushes: that the country will one day be a giant 1% limo party where nobody will ever have to pump gas or be the driver. With an army of Joe the Plumber’s who all seem to think that they’re one clogged toilet away from being millionaires, Republicans have often ridden on this false sentiment to victory, saying that the same freedom which allows corporations to rape savings accounts and the environment will allow their impoverished selves to instantly jump into the world of the rich.
From Marco Rubio, we’ve heard some quotes which were right on alongside comments which place him far outside of the Latino mainstream, even to the right of his more conservative-leaning Cuban constituency. For example, he has come out against SB 1070’s worst racial profiling abuses. Rubio has also, however, come out defending SB 1070, saying “Arizona’s going to do what’s in the best interest of the people of Arizona. They have a right to do that, and I respect that.” Although he did condemn some of the practices under SB 1070, he’s cool with it now, and that’s not a quote that will disappear.
On undocumented immigrants, Rubio has stated that “People in the United States who are here without documents should not benefit from programs like in-state tuition.” This view has been rejected by high-ranking members of his own party, such as Governor Rick Perry who signed in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants into law in Texas.
Rubio has said that undocumented children and the children of undocumented immigrants were blameless, however, his legislative record hasn’t followed his rhetoric. Recently, Rubio has introduced legislation to restrict the child tax credit to US citizens only. This tax credit is designed to help children, not their parents, and in 2009 was credited with preventing 1.3 million children from sinking into poverty. The fact that undocumented immigrants weren’t excluded wasn’t an accident when they were drafting the law. The children who qualified, having received an investment, as well as their families, are now more likely to form a consumer and tax base that the economy desperately needs.
Ending this tax credit for tax-paying immigrants will have a strong detrimental effect on low-income families, and a devastating effect on both the tax base as well as Latino communities. Many of these members of the Latino community will then find themselves sinking into poverty and below the tax-payer threshold, and will be attacked by Republicans again as lazy people who should pay their taxes and get some “skin in the game.”
While Harry Reid publicly asks for Rubio to come out with something written down for his own version of the DREAM Act, Rubio wastes the public’s time and attention with bills that seem more like they’re setting him up for a run in 2016 than anything else. He is grandstanding on economic policy, attempting to score points with the base while all eyes are on him, all the while making no commitments on the immigration policies which garnered him his spotlight.
Rubio’s relationship with Romney has been pretty tight all in all, though lately he’s been making a stronger push for him. In Florida, where Romney has closed the gap and now begun to gain the upper hand, Rubio went to bat for him, swinging hard. This helps to explain how he’s managed to gain a 6% lead in Florida according to the latest Quinnipiac poll.
Rubio has also been running around South Carolina for Romney fundraisers, where he called Obama the most divisive president in modern history (completely forgetting about when Bush’s surrogates were calling us all unpatriotic pussies for not wanting to fight every Mideastern country). He continued this run in Washington DC, where he spoke in front of Latino business groups for Romney.
In local politics turned national, the Birthers are making a resurgence to cash in on some paranoia. The way they’re cashing in on everyone’s racist, paranoid grandmother that they can’t introduce to their brown girlfriend. It reeks of sleaze even in this cesspool of politics we’ve had lately. A prime example of said sleaze being the Ricketts SuperPAC having to back off of plans to attack Jeremiah Wright. Representative Mike Coffman, (R…you fucking kidding me) Colorado said that he didn’t know whether Obama was born in the US, but knew that he wasn’t an American in his heart. He has come out offering a cynical, rigid, tight-lipped apology, refusing to elaborate, just saying “I misspoke and apologize.” It was like watching a kid fake tears over a baseball through a window that just didn’t want to have to pay for it.
Mike Coffman pales in comparison to the giant stones swinging off of the Arizona Secretary of State, Ken Bennett. He claimed that he hadn’t been satisfied by Obama’s birth certificate, and so he may not put him on the ballot. He found no support, even amongst the likes of insane, wrinkly, insanely wrinkly Jan Brewer who is making a career out of signing the craziest shit you ever heard into law. Joe Arpaio may push for him with his cold case posse, but the vast majority of America think that guy is an idiot for going Birther (though America was turning sour on him anyway).