Monday, October 3, 2011

Individual Mandate vs. Illegal Immigration

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This is the mother of all ironies. The top two candidates for the GOP nomination - Mitt Romney and Rick Perry - each adopted positions considered apostasy among GOP grassroots. And neither candidate is reversing his stance.

Mitt Romney signed into law the precursor of Obamacare - the most despised piece of legislation among Republicans. Abolishing Obamacare is an easy applause line at every GOP debate. Even Huntsman gets applause with that line.

The pundits spent weeks dissecting Perry's Ponzi remarks about Social Security and whether they would hurt him in the general election. But their speculation was premature since Perry's stances on illegal immigration could keep him from getting the GOP nomination. Specifically, his opposition to building a physical fence along every inch of the Mexico-USA border and his support for in state tuition for undocumented students.

Based on the outrage that Obamacare sparked - complete with rampant fears about death panels sentencing the elderly and disabled - the individual mandate would seem the greater apostasy. The very idea that government at any level has the power to coerce individuals to purchase a good just because they reside in a particular spot on the world's map is abrasive to anyone who believes in limited government.

Besides, Perry's positions are realistic and not indicative of unwillingness to stop illegal immigration. There is a river that separates Texas and Mexico. A physical fence along the U.S. side will deny farmers and ranchers access to water in a part of the world that is fairly arid. Perry's proposal of boots on the ground combined with surveillance technology is pragmatic. The same is true about in state tuition for undocumented students. Better to put these students on the path of becoming productive members of society than the alternative. Especially in light of the fact that their parents are helping fund Texas public universities via sales and property taxes.

Which apostasy will be more acceptable? Judging from the polling done after Fox-Google debate it appears that the individual mandate is something most Republicans can live it. The "death panels" weren't so scary after all.