As we noted in "Blue Dreams," (Page 11), Republicans aren't doing so hot with the Latino vote these days.
A national Fox News Latino poll earlier this year showed that 70 percent of Latinos were likely to vote for Obama, while only 14 percent said they'd vote for Romney.
One big symbolic bit of legislation in the fight for the Latino corazón is the DREAM Act. The legislation, which has been around in various forms for more than a decade, passed the House of Representatives while it was under Democratic control in 2010, but couldn't survive a GOP filibuster threat in the Senate.
We won't get into all the details (if you're that interested, Google it yourself), but the gist is this: People who were brought to the United States without documentation as children and who have stayed out of trouble would have a chance to normalize their immigration status and get on a path to citizenship if they were attending college or serving in the military.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican who has been talked up as vice-presidential material for Mitt Romney, recently began developing his own version of the DREAM Act. While there's no concrete proposal yet, Rubio's outline would allow people who were brought to the U.S. as children to normalize their status if they were serving in the U.S. military or attending college, although they would not be put on the path to citizenship, as would happen under the DREAM Act.
Last week, Republican House Speaker John Boehner expressed skepticism that Rubio's proposal would go anywhere in the House of Representatives.
"I did talk to Sen. Rubio about his idea, and he gave me some particulars about how this would work," Boehner told the press last week. "I found it of interest. But the problem with this issue is that we're operating in a very hostile political environment, and to deal with a very difficult issue like this, I think it would be difficult at best."
The DREAM Act is figuring in the likely matchup between Democrat Richard Carmona and Republican U.S. Rep. Jeff Flake in the race for retiring U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl's seat. (Carmona faces no serious opposition, while Flake has been leading polls that survey the GOP primary between him and his self-funding challenger, Wil Cardon.)
Carmona, who grew up poor in a Puerto Rican household in Harlem before joining the Green Berets during the Vietnam War, has condemned Rubio's proposal as "disingenuous."
Last week, Carmona told The Washington Post: "I had my own version of the DREAM Act when I came back from Vietnam. I couldn't get into college. OK? I am who I am today because Bronx Community College had an open-enrollment program for Vietnam veterans. ... And because of that, I became surgeon general of the United States.
"So, that's why I'm so passionate about giving these kids a chance," Carmona said in the interview. "It's the right thing to do. They're here through no fault of their own. They were brought by adults, and now we're going to penalize them. It doesn't make sense."
As a member of Congress, Flake voted against the DREAM Act in 2010, saying that he wanted to see more components in the legislation.
"By moving ahead with legalization alone, Democrats have little incentive to support increased enforcement and a temporary worker program, and without those components we've not truly addressed the problem," Flake said in a press release.
As he prepared for his U.S. Senate run last year, Flake announced he no longer supported comprehensive immigration reform and would instead focus on increased border security.
"In the past I have supported a broad approach to immigration reform—increased border security coupled with a temporary worker program," Flake told The Arizona Republic. "I no longer do."
Latino voters could play a big role in the U.S. Senate race—and Carmona holds a big lead among them. An Anzalone Liszt Research poll commissioned by the Carmona campaign and released last week showed 61 percent of Latinos favored Carmona, while just 25 percent supported Flake. Among Hispanic women, Carmona had a 56-percentage-point lead over Flake.
Here in the special election for Congressional District 8, which voters will decide on June 12, Democrat Ron Barber supports the DREAM Act, according to campaign manager Jessica Schultz, who says that Barber "welcomes bipartisan action on immigration and border security, and looks forward to studying the details of Sen. Rubio's proposal once they are fully fleshed out."
Republican Jesse Kelly has said in debates that he opposes the DREAM Act. Asked if Kelly would consider supporting Rubio's alternative, Kelly spokesman John Ellinwood said that Kelly wanted to build a double-layer fence along the entire length of the border and lower gas prices.
FAIR OR UNFAIR?
Speaking of the race to finish Gabrielle Giffords' congressional term between Democrat Ron Barber and Republican Jesse Kelly: Kelly spokesman John Ellinwood took issue with a detail from last week's look at the candidates. ("Kelly vs. Barber," April 26).
Ellinwood said that Kelly had never supported a proposed 30 percent sales tax on goods and services that would be charged by the federal government on all purchases, including houses, cars and gasoline.
The Weekly based the 30 percent figure on the sales tax charged under the FairTax proposal that has been introduced in Congress. It would replace the current federal income tax, payroll taxes and corporate income taxes with a national sales tax.
Under that proposal, if you spent $100 on something—groceries, gasoline, clothes, a haircut, you name it—you'd pay $30 in federal sales tax in addition to state and local sales taxes. We'd call that a 30 percent sales tax; supporters of the tax call it a 23 percent tax, because they say that $30 of $130 is 23 percent, not 30 percent. (You can make up your own mind about the relative percentages based on how you commonly think of sales taxes.)
Kelly has frequently discussed his preference for a 10 percent flat income tax, saying that if "10 percent is good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for the federal government." But Kelly has offered no details about the impact of such a proposal on the federal deficit, although he has suggested that the U.S. government could simply cut spending to match the revenues produced by his tax proposal.
Ellinwood asked us if we knew of specific instances where Kelly said he'd support the FairTax. We note that when the topic came up at a GOP debate in April 2010, Republican candidate Brian Miller said he supported the FairTax proposal, while another Republican candidate, Andy Goss, said he saw a number of flaws in the plan, although he said he would vote for it.
After Goss and Miller had spoken, Kelly said that he supported both a flat tax and the FairTax: "FairTax, flat tax, I support them both. They're both fantastic and a lot better than what we have now."
In a separate video, Kelly said: "I would vote for the FairTax, I support the FairTax," although he went on to say his preference was a flat income tax. And in an Arizona Daily Star article examining whether Kelly supported the FairTax, Kelly said he would support the FairTax or a flat income tax—whichever he could get through Congress.
Whether that counts as support for the FairTax is up to readers to decide.