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Romney, Romneycare, *free* health care, and illegal immigrants.

It’s funny: by the standards of a lot of people in the GOP I’m pretty firmly in the ‘pro-amnesty squish’ wing. [INSERT INTEMPERATE RESPONSE TO INSULTING AND PROVOCATIVE STATEMENT THAT WILL NOT FOSTER PARTY UNITY, BUT WILL MAKE THE RESPONDER PERSONALLY FEEL BETTER ABOUT BEING CALLED A RUDE NAME HERE] So it’s always a little interesting to talk about the immigration debate in the primaries. Particularly since the two people that I’ll be talking about – Rick Perry and Mitt Romney – are both considered to be pro-amnesty squishes themselves by some.

First off, we have what is an entertainingly unhinged response by Team Romney over something written about Rick Perry in passing by MSNBC:

Asked about a testy exchange with Mitt Romney on the issue of illegal immigration during last week’s debate, Perry repeated his assertion that Romney was a part of the nation’s illegal immigration problem when undocumented individuals worked on his property.

“Mitt stands back and makes statements about criticizing Texas for how they’ve had to deal with an issue,” he said, “[when] the federal government and people like himself are the problem.”

Perry is referring to this story from the 2008 election cycle:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWSPJaLjmlE&feature=player_embedded

For those without video, it discusses how then-Governor Romney had used a company that hired illegals to do landscaping on his mansion – and continued to use it for a year after it was brought to his attention the first time (and, yes, during that time the company continued to hire illegals). All perfectly accurate – and it led to Mitt Romney uttering the immortal words “I’m running for office, for Pete’s sake: I can’t have illegals.” All in all, it appears that Team Romney was and is very unhappy to discover that this issue wasn’t actually dealt with already*, so they took the time to make sure that MSNBC knew that they were still reacting, ah, rather heatedly on the topic:

“Rick Perry is a desperate candidate resorting to negative personal attacks because his campaign is collapsing. [snip of various poorly-sourced allegations and whines] While Rick Perry thinks a border fence is ‘idiocy’ and that people that don’t support in-state tuition for illegal immigrants ‘don’t have a heart,’ Mitt Romney supports a border fence and vetoed an in-state tuition bill as governor.”

Two things on that: one, that doesn’t sound like a particularly confident campaign, does it? I mean, isn’t Herman Cain currently the major contender, and everything? Why such venom towards Team Perry? Second, and more importantly: so if not allowing in-state tuition for illegal immigrant children is such a horrible thing… where does free medical care for illegals fit in on that spectrum?

The Massachusetts healthcare law that then-Gov. Mitt Romney signed in 2006 includes a program known as the Health Safety Net, which allows undocumented immigrants to get needed medical care along with others who lack insurance.

Uninsured, poor immigrants can walk into a health clinic or hospital in the state and get publicly subsidized care at virtually no cost to them, regardless of their immigration status.

That article – cruelly, in my opinion – takes the time to pretty much call a lie Team Romney’s counterclaim that the governor didn’t know that the program was going to support illegals, and that the ‘outrageous’ parts of it were put into place after Romney declined to seek re-election; the language in the bill that Romney signed shows that legal status was explicitly considered in some parts, and thus explicitly not considered in others – including, in point of fact, the Health Safety Net. For that matter, the paper is implying (hard to tell, given the relative lack of attributed quotes) that the consensus at the time among those involved in Romneycare was that illegals would be covered. And, lastly – and with malice aforethought – the LA Times included this quote from Romney: “We have to turn off the magnet of extraordinary government benefits.”

Ouch.

The funny part about all of this? I’m a pro-amnesty squish: I am not particularly upset at either Texas or Massachusetts coming up with a program that perhaps gently deals with a particular aspect of the situation on the state level – and both programs were apparently well received**. And I honestly don’t expect that either position would particularly hurt either candidate in the general election. But if Team Romney wants to play the hardcore immigration demagogue game, then they should kindly explain why it’s somehow worse to have for Texas to have an immigrant policy that results in the reduction of revenue (no state income tax in Texas, remember?) than it is for Massachusetts to have an immigrant policy that results in an added charge to the taxpayer. Which, of course, inevitably means even higher taxes in the latter state.

Mandates tend to do that.

(MSNBC/LA Times links via The Transom.)

Moe Lane (crosspost)

*”We’ve already addressed this” is a term of art beloved by the professional politician class; it’s used to suggest that a potentially-damaging revelation can only be used once before it loses all of its power in future election cycles. What they don’t mention is that this is only true when the person that it’s targeting wins anyway. Did Romney’s illegal problem sink him in 2008? Maybe, maybe not. But he did lose the nomination.

**I am as doubtful as the author of this article implicitly is that the perennial effort to repeal the TX law is going to go anywhere.

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