News Column

GOP Stands on Immigration, Obamacare Alienate Hispanics

April 1, 2013

B.D. Campbell --

hispanic voters

The GOP stands at a crossroads when it comes to garnering Hispanic confidence. Heavily in play right now are immigration reform and implementation of the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare.

The 112th Congress tried at least 33 times to repeal Obamacare, without success, and in January of this year Michelle Bachmann, R-Minn., introduced the 113th Congress's first anti-Obamacare bill -- even though only about a third of Americans remain opposed to Obamacare, polls show.

Nearly one in three people living in the U.S. without health insurance are Hispanic, according to the National Council of La Raza (PDF). Hispanics are also about three times as likely as whites to be uninsured, the NCLR says.

--- Related: Top 10 Health-Care Organizations: A Snapshot

Hispanics tend to support Obamacare, according to the LA Times. The paper reported on Monday that 48 percent of Hispanics favor Obamacare, while the same percentage of whites oppose it. Some 19 percent of Hispanics have an unfavorable view of the program, while about 30 percent of whites are leery of it. The sizable remainder either had no opinion or declined to give one.

"When Republicans keep saying they will repeal the health law, Latinos hear the party is going to take away their health care," said Matt Barreto, cofounder of the nonpartisan polling firm Latino Decisions, as reported by the Times.

The Wall Street Journal, meanwhile, pointed out on Friday that the Health and Human Services Department is cutting Medicare Advantage more deeply than Congress said it had to. The action has spurred 139 members of Congress to write letters of protest -- including Al Franken, D-Minn., and Michael Bennet, D.-Colo., who pressed hard for a public option during the debate on the Affordable Care Act.

--- Related: Sen. Rubio Cautious on Immigration Deal

The fate of immigration reform, meanwhile, is in the hands of the GOP, the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) said on Monday, as reported by The Hill. U.S. Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., said on an interview on MSNBC that "(House) Republicans are going to have to decide, 'Do they want to cross their base?'"

In the 2012 presidential election, Hispanic voters cast their ballots for President Obama over Mitt Romney 71 percent to 27 percent respectively, according November exit polls conducted by the Pew Hispanic Center, a Project of the Pew Research Center.

The brouhaha has led thinkmeister Donald Trump to sound the warning klaxons that the GOP is moving much too fast on immigration reform. Why?

Because the path to citizenship means "every single one of those 12 million people will be voting against the Republicans," he told Fox and Friends.

On the other hand, the bipartisan Group of Eight "has resolved all major issues in a pending deal" for immigration reform, Reuters is reporting. The Group of Eight, which is composed of four leaders from both major parties, said details will be revealed when Congress reconvenes next week.

Business and labor have resolved some major issues as well, according to Reuters, with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO reaching concord on a guest-worker program on Friday that will include both high- and low-skilled laborers.

"With the agreement between business and labor, every major policy issue has been resolved," Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said. He is a member of the Gang of Eight.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., however, sounded a note of demurral.

"I'm encouraged by reports of an agreement between business groups and unions on the issue of guest workers," he wrote in a statement released by his office yesterday. "However, reports that the bipartisan group of eight senators have agreed on a legislative proposal are premature."

Source: (c) 2013. All rights reserved.

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