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Ezra Klein: So Jeff Sessions’ Opposition to Immigration Isn’t About Poor Americans At All

by Van Le on 06/19/2013 at 2:44pm

Since the CBO score applauding the economic merits of immigration reform came out yesterday, Sen. Jeff Sessions has been working hard to try and discredit the score by claiming that its analysis is all wrong.

“CBO did not provide enough information to assess the assumptions it made about the educational background of illegal immigrants and thus their methodology may be substantially flawed,” Sessions said in a statement.

Why is he so sure that the CBO score is wrong?  Because he “knows”–logic, evidence, or reason by dammed–that immigrants are moochers and are a drain on society.  Just like he “knows” that immigration reform will be “the biggest setback for poor and middle-class Americans of any legislation Congress has considered in decades.”  Sessions loves to couch his anti-reform rhetoric in terms of how it will hurt the average worker and the middle class.

Except that Sessions has a documented history of being AGAINST middle class policies.  As Ezra Klein makes clear in a Washington Post article today:

Sessions doesn’t typically vote against bills because the benefits accrue to business owners or because they’ll make life harder for Americans who can’t find work. Quite the opposite, actually.

In February 2012, with the payroll tax cut about to expire and working families about to see a $1,000 tax increase, the Senate finally managed to push an extension past a filibuster. Thirteen Republicans, including Sens. Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Chuck Grassley (Iowa), voted yes. Sessions voted no.

Sessions also voted no on the American Jobs Act, which would have created jobs by investing in infrastructure repair and cutting taxes for workers and for businesses who hire new workers. He voted no, repeatedly, on efforts to extend long-term unemployment benefits for jobless workers. He voted no on the Buffet rule, which would have raised taxes on the rich in order to cut the deficit.

In 2007, the Senate considered the Employee Free Choice Act, which would have unleashed unions to organize more workplaces and made certain that the gains of the economy were shared more equitably between labor and capital. Sessions voted no…

What doesn’t appear to interest Sessions are the policies that follow from the economic theories he’s wielding against immigration reform. His record shows no consistent opposition to bills that primarily benefit business owners or the wealthy, or that empower labor to wrest more economic gains from capital. It shows no sustained interest in the fortunes of the least fortunate. And Sessions has rejected policies that would help the unemployed get work and fought policies that would ease the pain of unemployment.

One might even say Sessions’ middle-class rhetoric is nothing but a transparent vehicle for him to try and kill the immigration bill:

Sessions has framed his opposition to immigration reform in the terms of progressive populism. But the rest of his record isn’t that of a progressive populist. And the simple fact is that if Sessions wants to help low-wage, unskilled workers, there are certainly more direct ways to do it than current and future immigrants…

But Sessions doesn’t want to do any of that. He just wants to kill immigration reform. It’s almost as if his opposition to the bill isn’t really about poor Americans at all.

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