5 thoughts on “Politics is the art of the possible

  1. IMHO, kind of odd. The first thing Biden needs to do is get the parts of the immigration system that are intended to allow people in to actually work, like approving visas that everybody already agrees are a good thing. Then working on asylum and other entries that aren’t so much “of right” but are clearly authorized by law. Then he can start working on being more tolerant of the unauthorized. After all, if there was a consensus they should stay, we’d change the law to authorize them …

  2. There is no visa that Stephen Miller thinks is a good thing and he has gummed up the works for all visas and it will take some time to ungum them. Having a consensus that the law should be changed and changing it are two different things, especially with the current Senate.

  3. I was more commenting that the linked article seemed to be entirely about getting it so unauthorized immigrants can stay, and possibly about having relatively relaxed treatment of asylum-seekers. But in regard to immigration, there are lots of things that a large majority considers higher priority to fix.

    In re “Having a consensus that the law should be changed and changing it are two different things”, I’d say if you’ve got a consensus that the law should be changed, changing it is easy. The problem is that there’s nowhere near a consensus that the law should be changed. E.g. Pew has taken an opinion poll each year since 1965 whether people think immigration levels should go up, down, or stay the same. From 1965 to 2018, the balance was that levels should decrease. So in a real sense, the elites (like me) have managed to avoid doing what the masses wanted for 50 years. Even as late as G.W. Bush, there was talk of “comprehensive immigration reform”, code for “amnesty for a lot of the unauthorized.” (Reagan actually managed to get one through.)

    Ironically, Trump may have caused the public to shift on that in 2019 toward favoring more immigration. Let’s hope that change persists.

  4. Two thirds of Americans support a $15 federal minimum wage (https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/07/30/two-thirds-of-americans-favor-raising-federal-minimum-wage-to-15-an-hour/). I’d call that a consensus but it won’t happen as long as Mitch McConnell is majority leader in the Senate. I would bet that most of the bills passed by the House that have died in the Senate (https://www.vox.com/2019/11/29/20977735/how-many-bills-passed-house-democrats-trump) have a broad consensus behind them, e.g., expanded background checks on gun sales (https://www.americanprogress.org/press/release/2015/11/17/125618/release-gun-owners-overwhelmingly-support-background-checks-see-nra-as-out-of-touch-new-poll-finds/).

  5. I’d say there’s less of a consensus on those than first appears. Compare with “Medicare for All”, which gets 70% support, but if you tell them it will require significant tax hikes, support drops to 37%. https://medium.com/@jarrettlewis/medicare-for-all-the-publics-opinion-b7013ca0cba2

    In regard to the $15 minimum wage, it doesn’t look like it’s so popular in the House, which must run close to public opinion, or what it would be if the public was aware of all the tradeoffs. https://apnews.com/article/32d0abbffc4b4982b75f0a8f166fcbe9 There was a bill that passed last year, but it only got 53% in the House, and even so, a Democratic sub-caucus advocated changes. “With some two dozen members, the caucus has enough votes to deny Pelosi a majority and sink the legislation.” My guess is they went along because they were sure that the Senate wouldn’t consider it.

    In regard to gun control, the problem has always been that a majority favors it, but they are tepid about it. While the anti-gun-control minority considers it one of their top priorities. So weighted by passion, there’s no majority for gun control. Which accounts for why even when the Democrats held Congress, little was done about it.

    I’d say that a good index for “consensus” is when a bill passes the House with 60% or better, 66% support. And really, if you don’t get that much support, the issue is decidedly partisan.

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