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Lance T. Izumi - Contributor
[Courtesty of Pacific Research Institute]

Lance Izumi is Director of Education Studies for the Pacific Research Institute and
Senior Fellow in California Studies. He is a leading expert in education policy and the author of several major PRI studies. [go to Izumi index]

Bush Disappoints, Arnold Impresses GOP, Part II
Don't forget core principles...
[Lance T. Izumi] 1/19/04

With no primary challengers to worry about, President Bush seemingly has already shifted gears into general-election mode and, in the process, has angered a good portion of the Republican base. On the heels of dismaying fiscal conservatives with his $400-billion prescription-drug entitlement program, the president now proposes a thinly veiled amnesty plan for illegal immigrants that has outraged the anti-illegal-immigration grassroots. In contrast, most California Republicans have been enthused by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's principled State of the State address and 2004-05 budget plan.

There are few hotter buttons than immigration. It sticks in the craw of pro-law-and-order Republicans that up to 12 million people broke the law to enter the United States. Further, while it is true that many illegal aliens are decent people who want to work hard, it is also true that in California illegal immigrants account for a significant percentage of the state's prison population and receive more government services and benefits than they pay in taxes. Citizens find such facts not just disconcerting, but infuriating. Yet, despite this fervor, the president has decided to grant amnesty to illegals.

The president, of course, says he opposes amnesty. However, his plan would allow millions of illegal immigrants to become legal temporary workers and apply for green cards for permanent U.S. residency and for eventual citizenship. Regardless of the White House's spin, giving legal status to illegal immigrants is amnesty pure and simple.

Saying that the Bush proposal would have an overall negative policy impact, California Republican Congressman Dana Rohrbacher observed: "I personally don't see this as good for the GOP." UPI national correspondent Steve Sailer reports that on the normally pro-Bush web site, an overwhelming number of the more than 1,500 responses to the president's proposal were strongly negative. Sailer found similar sentiments on other usually pro-Bush conservative web sites. Anyone listening to conservative talk radio would also be aware that Mr. Bush's seeming pandering for the Hispanic vote has angered the Republican grassroots.

While Republicans are venting against Mr. Bush, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has enamored himself to the party faithful by pushing red-meat Republican principles. In his State of the State speech, not only did the governor take credit for the rescission of the law giving drivers licenses to illegal immigrants, he strongly blamed government overspending for California's massive budget deficit: "The fact of the matter is that we do not have a tax crisis; we do not have a budget crisis; we have a spending crisis."

The governor's budget plan eschews smoke and mirrors and relies on tough cuts in welfare, subsidized health services, state employee benefits, state university programs, and many other areas. Republicans, including state legislators and the party grassroots, responded to the governor's toughness with cheers. In her blog comment on the governor's State of the State, Carol Platt Liebau, editorial director of the conservative web site, said: "Most important for Republicans and conservatives, he committed to no new taxes - and sounded serious about eliminating (not restructuring!) California's bloated and inefficient government bureaucracies."

The bottom line is that for political parties, principle matters. President Bush should remember that, by throwing principle overboard, party members may abandon ship. For his part, if Gov. Schwarzenegger continues to stick to clear principle, party members will support him through rough waters.


copyright 2004 Pacific Research Institute



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