Sunday, 3 February 2013

Immigration and ‘welfare’

The legacy parties are trying to repair the damage to their reputations of decades of heartless b.s. with regard to Mexicans and other Hispanics, so the immigration debate has exploded post-election. This is a good thing, and demographic (read voting) pressures probably will push them off their bloody-minded and racist posturing for a while. Something positive might even come of it, you never know.

It’s interesting and significant, however, that the debate over what new citizens will cost, if anything, is being cast as their access to ‘welfare’ programs, by which the reactionaries mean Medicare, Medicaid and even Social Security. Huh? Medicaid could be fairly called a healthcare subsidy for the poor, but the other two? They are social insurance programs that we PAY for—it’s like saying that when you submit a claim to State Farm or Nationwide, you’re a deadbeat.

But the think-tank ranter I heard on The News Hour this week laying into the woman from La Raza kept using the term ‘welfare’ over and over again, which means it’s part of their considered strategy. It obviously means to discredit potential amnesty beneficiaries and play to the hostility of nativists about that old bugaboo, the alleged free ride that poor people get while the rest of us work. Ho hum.

So that’s the reward we get for allowing Clinton-ite ‘centrist’ Democrats to dismantle old-fashioned welfare and replace it with the punitive TANF and other demeaning exercises: the right-wingers have moved on to other targets. Now any cash payment from the state to a vulnerable citizen is ‘welfare’—even if you worked half your life to earn it.

Conservative Dems love to parade themselves as savvy political operators and convince us that their adoption of bankers’ rhetoric is just a tactical feint to undermine the appeal of the crazies. But in no time we’re living in a Republican universe. Expect this process to be repeated when Obama buckles on ‘welfare’ programs like your Social Security insurance.

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