Mexicans and Medicine: A Grand Bargain?

What if Republicans decide they dislike Mexicans less than they despise Obamacare, and Democrats realize immigration liberalization is more attractive than illusory healthcare "reform"?

If politics is the art of the possible, it's at least plausible that reasonable conservatives and moderate liberals might reach a grand bargain taming the two big policy beasts: immigration and healthcare.

That could happen if Tea Party Republicans decide they dislike Mexicans less than they despise the Affordable Care Act (ACA.) And it would require enough scared moderate liberal Democrats to realize immigration liberalization is more attractive to swing voters than illusory healthcare "reform."

Deserting the ACA recently to support the GOP's keep-your-current-insurance plan, about 40 House Democrats facing close 2014 contests understood that legislation they rammed down throats of every single GOP legislator in 2010 is once again the albatross it was when Republicans seized the House that year.

Democrats facing up to unintended consequences of the ACA may dodge ballot bullets next year, from independents concluding ObamaCare is a Rube Goldberg contraption, benefitting BigPharma and BigInsurance, without cutting costs or achieving wellness.

If Democrats agree to re-litigate healthcare and focus on just a few problems, like pre-existing conditions and catastrophic medical bills, it's possible House Republicans can forego dreams of building a Berlin border wall and deporting Mexicans in numbers equal to about half the population of Texas.

Immigration reform supported by enough House Republicans could yield a real legacy for President Obama, similar to Bill Clinton's claiming Republican-enacted welfare reform as his legacy post-HillaryCare. But it would also benefit Republicans. Cooler-headed strategists understand Hispanic antipathy can doom GOP presidential ambitions for years. Older Latinos may be Democratic, but as new generations become middle class, Republicans have a shot at their support—if they can get past strident nativism.

On both issues, Democrats and Republicans are captives of policy-by-anecdote. Tea Partiers envision Mexicans crossing the border with pounds of marijuana in backpacks, lining up for welfare checks in El Paso. Lefty Democrats recount atypical horrors of single mothers bankrupted by medical bills, dreaming of doctors on the public payroll. Political reality lies beyond those scare tactics for keeping Mexicans out and forcing single (government) payer in.

As Michael Barone points out in Shaping Our Nation: How Surges of Migration Transformed America and Its Politics, the net influx of illegals ended in 2007, as the housing market collapsed and the Great Recession began. Now we're seeing Americans retire in Mexico.

Liberal mantras about "hard-working middle class Americans without healthcare" are from the play book of campaign consultants who began selling "reform" as a winning Democratic issue vehicle back in 1991, when hired guns James Carville and Paul Begala pulled Sen. Harris Wofford out of a downward spiral and had him ride to victory on an amorphous healthcare "reform" platform. The two pedaled the tonic to the Clintons in 1992, which begat HillaryCare, which ended up giving the GOP control of the House in 1994.

Certainly there have been illegal Mexicans immigrants who gamed the system. And we can always find emotional hardship anecdotes from America's "failed healthcare system," more compelling than the truth that wellness is hindered by morbid obesity and couch potato lifestyles.

We're not returning to a 19th Century open door policy for the tired, the poor and the huddled masses. And we're never going to enact 100 percent government-run medicine.

But the art of the possible could produce a win-win for both parties if less strident voices see an intelligent way forward on both immigration and healthcare.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    I'm not a big follower of the tea party, but it strikes me as odd that you'd characterize them as hating Mexicans.

  • Terry Michael||

    I did NOT write that Tea Partiers "hate" Mexicans. I used the word "dislike."

  • Irish||

    Is that seriously the defense you're going with here?

  • Scarecrow Repair||

    It's a better defense than the ridiculous offense it responds to.

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  • Virginian||

    It's really funny how some supposed libertarians will find it really easy to dip into collectivist modes of thought when they're talking about people they dislike.

    I especially like how easy it is for pro-immigration people to assume that there is no other reason than sheer rank racism to be opposed to open borders. That's quite a broad brush you're painting with.

    Thinking that it is impossible for people to disagree in good faith is a dangerous thing IMO.

  • Hawk Spitui||

    Well, Michael is an alleged "Libertarian Democrat". Which is usually a good sign he's even smarmier than your standard issue cosmotarian. Think Shrike.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    RACIST!!11!1

  • Aluhaii||

    How?

  • OneOut||

    Is this your first article posted here ? It seems so.

    Why didn't you just call them Tea Baggers" and be upfront about your meaning.

    I used "the WORD dislike' isn't going to be a very good defense around this crowd.

    At least for your sake it's Sunday afternoon and most regulars are watching football.

  • ||

    I could have sworn it said hate and not dislike, but to be honest I was playing with my 18 month old so I probably misread it.

    However, my point was that the tea partiers aren't the only ones on the right against immigration reform. Oh and that it may not just be fueled by their "dislike" of Mexicans.

    Also, thanks for actually reading and posting in the comments, more of the writers need to do it.

  • Aluhaii||

    'Disliking' Mexicans has nothing to do with it. It's not a matter of a word. It's the Mexicans deeds that count. They (large majority) will pass go and sign up for every entitlement plan they can. No fed. income tax for them. Leftists will offer every freebie in the universe to get their vote. And vote they will for the anything and everything programs showered on them. Chain immigration is only the start.

  • Sevo||

    "It's the Mexicans deeds that count. They (large majority) will pass go and sign up for every entitlement plan they can. No fed. income tax for them. Leftists will offer every freebie in the universe to get their vote. And vote they will for the anything and everything programs showered on them. Chain immigration is only the start."

    Merkin, is that your tired ass hanging around again?

  • Lyle||

    It did say hate. I saw it too.

  • Lyle||

    They don't dislike Mexicans Terry. They dislike the "illegal" part about Mexican nationals in the country.

  • ||

    And just don't want to make them legal.

  • Lyle||

    That you think Republicans "dislike" Republicans shows how much you know about the world Terry Michael. You don't know shit.

  • John Galt||

    Could it be possible "Tea Partiers" simply "dislike" that Mexicans are another group that blindly votes Democratic Party as a block without ever taking a moment to reflect on the bigger picture before doing so?

    It seems likely that "Tea Partiers" would be knocking down all barriers to unbridled immigration if it was the other way around and every Mexican crossing the border was equivalent to another vote gained for their causes.

  • Scarecrow Repair||

    The general thrust is valid. Rightwingers worry too much about Mexicans, leftwingers overglorify Obamacare.

  • BakedPenguin||

    I don't think that Republicans would be willing to compromise though. Obamacare is going to be an electoral disaster for the Dems, why should Team Red help them mitigate it?

    At this point, it's probably better for them (election-wise) to let it implode and then push for full repeal.

  • IDPNDNT||

    I can see that going both ways.

    Don't underestimate stupidity when it comes the electorate. I wouldn't be surprised if Democrats plead market failure and claim UHC is the only solution with electorate eating it up hook line and sinker.

  • IDPNDNT||

    to the electorate*

    the electorate*

    Definitely need an edit button.

  • BakedPenguin||

    No, I disagree. Obama's blatant mendacity precludes that. He made promises he obviously had no intention of keeping, and every D who voted for it was an accomplice.

  • Cdr Lytton||

    Universal healthcare and Obama redeems himself in the eyes of the betrayed left. Maybe.

  • Homple||

    "Don't underestimate stupidity when it comes the electorate."

    Or the Republican leadership either.

  • ||

    Tea partners aren't the only right wingers, so specifically calling them out seemed odd to me.

  • Lyle||

    Yep, this was my thought to. I don't see a lot of hate of Mexicans. I see a lot of it's a matter of law and order from the tea party.

  • Specail Sauce||

    "But the art of the possible could produce a win-win for both parties if less strident voices see an intelligent way forward on both immigration and healthcare."

    In this scenario, as with nearly every scenario where both political parties claim victory, a win-win is nothing but a lose-lose for everyone outside of politics. Government can't bargain itself out of decades of bad policy. To suggest there is any merit to such an idea is laughable.

  • Irish||

    That could happen if Tea Party Republicans decide they dislike Mexicans less than they despise the Affordable Care Act (ACA.)

    I have yet to meet a Tea Party Republican who dislikes Mexicans. They definitely exist, but it's hardly a major aspect of the group. I have met Tea Party Republicans who are opposed to illegal immigration regardless of where those immigrants come from, however.

    I understand disagreeing with them on immigration issues, but this characterization of the Tea Party is hugely disingenuous and seems based primarily on Democrat propaganda.

  • Acosmist||

    Yeah, playing the race card is an admission of utter ideological bankruptcy, so I feel like Reason just basically gave immigration opponents the win here.

  • ||

    I have met Tea Party Republicans who are opposed to illegal immigration regardless of where those immigrants come from, however.

    Irish?

  • Zombie Jimbo||

  • Lady Bertrum||

    If I object to an immigration deal because I think another grotesque bi-partisan compromise will act as a support for the expansion of the welfare state - that means I'm a Mexican hater in the opinion of Terry Michael? Good to know, good to know.

  • OneOut||

    No it means you're a Mexican "disliker" not hater.

    See that's the problem with you Liberal haters. Y'all just don't get the nuance that intellectually superior Liberals sprinkle amongst their statist crapola.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    House GOP shelves tax reform and refuses to take up the Senate's budget or immigration bills:(today):

    The email blasting Rep. Dave Camp’s tax plan as “disastrous” arrived two days before a pivotal meeting between House Republican leaders and their chief tax writer.

    The subject line: “Republican tax plan threatens conservative talk radio and media localism.” It came from Lee Spieckerman, a Dallas-based Fox News commentator and media entrepreneur, who urged party leaders to stop House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Camp’s “kooky” tax “scheme.” The email, obtained by POLITICO, had been forwarded to Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and other conservative talkers.

    Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/.....z2muG9Lvpd

    And you expect a reasonable compromise out of this group? They can't act without first getting permission from wingnut radio.

  • OldMexican||

    Even some members of Camp's panel saw no reason to give Democrats the chance to change the subject by introducing what would surely be a wildly controversial tax bill.


    Here's the real reason, and it is a very valid reason: "When you see your opponent committing suicide, do not intervene."

    You are incapable of reading through the articles linked by you.

  • Sevo||

    Oh, shitstain is *capable*, but why ruin a perfect record of cherry-picking.
    Right, sheek, you lying asshole?

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    You mean the Senate Budget that can't touch a single entitlement? And this from a Senate that refused to talk about any compromise on taxes at the beginning of the year? Oh sure, you Team Red guys gave us all the additional revenue by reforming deductions and credits but that's not fair. Fair is we MUST(!) have higher marginal tax rates. The country will simply grind to a halt without them. Team Blue can't accept a 5% reduction in SNAP spending after the program has gone up over 50% during Barry's reign. And of course this doesn't even touch on the moving goalposts from the 2011 budget battle or the fact that Harry Reid would rather have sick children go without medical care than to give an inch of the budget battle in October.

    Right. Remind me which side is the unreasonable one again.

  • ||

    You are a fucking idiot. Demfag.

  • CLamb||

    From the headline I was expecting this article to be about how medical care is cheaper in Mexico because of less government regulation. I'm disappointed.

  • DJF||

    If pre-existing conditions don’t stop me from getting insurance then why should I get insurance until I get a preexisting condition? I just wait until I get sick or injured and then get insurance.

    Seems like a quick way to bankrupt the insurance companies.

  • DJF||

    The only way to stop the insurance companies going bankrupt after making a law to stop them refusing pre-existing conditions is to mandate that everyone get insurance and that is Obamcare.

  • Nazdrakke||

    But the modern Democratic party is NOTHING like fascism, honest.

  • DJF||

    Also since immigrants are voting Democrat and this trend has been going on for a while, even after Reagan gave them amnesty. The Democrats will take control of Congress and the Presidency. Then when the insurance companies go bankrupt they can get their beloved “single payer” system

  • Nazdrakke||

    I've met numerous Tea Party types who get uncomfortable with the idea of Hispanic immigration but very few who I would characterize as racists. They are more properly described as tribalists. It's not Juan and Maria and their kids down the block that they fear, but the unknown "other" that has been sold to them as a threat to them and the way they'd like to use.

    Racist is the most over and poorly used word in America, but years of propaganda has so colored (heh) the zeitgeist that it's a common mental mistake to go there as a first resort, rather than understanding very normal aspects of human nature that explain much of the conservative opposition to changing demographics.

    That said, it is helpful, because of the way the racism is behind all this opposition meme pervades our society, to be very specific when addressing the topic. I don't think saying Tea Party types "dislike" Mexicans is sufficiently clear if your trying to do something besides getting people to think more like they already do about it.

  • OldMexican||

    Tea Partiers envision Mexicans crossing the border with pounds of marijuana in backpacks, lining up for welfare checks in El Paso[...]


    Or gaining a toe-hold in the territory by deploying a myriad of so-called "anchor-babies."

    Yeah, I used to read the comments in Townhall.com.

  • OldMexican||

    The most-often used bromide by talk-radio pundits is the economically-ignorant (and immoral) "they take American jobs!"

    Doesn't matter that those jobs belong to the employer or that the comment reeks of nation-centric collectivism and that it runs contra property rights. We (immigrants) are a threat because we take jobs that should be slated for native-born individuals, notwithstandign the wishes and preferences of the employers.

  • OneOut||

    But... those Mexicans didn't build that.

  • SQRLSY One||

    Or, for that matter, not just employers, but consumers who want quality products or services, and DO NOT GIVE ONE DAMN about whether or not the goods or services were produced by a LEGAL humanoid, or an ILLEGAL humanoid! I for one say, “When humanoids are outlawed, only outlaws will be humanoids!” I have been tempted to march under that home-made banner, but, sad to say, I am too old and too tired… Or, too lazy?

  • Sevo||

    "I for one say, “When humanoids are outlawed, only outlaws will be humanoids!”"

    SQRLSY One for, uh, some government position or other!

  • OneOut||

    I never knew the Tea Party was a bunch Mexican "disliking" racists.

    They can forget me joining up with them after reading this hard hitting piece of investigative journalism cleverly disguised as a racist memed hit piece spewing cliched false attributes.

    I live in Texas where every store that sells food has a sign in Spanish that says WIC Accepted Here. So I know those "Mexicans" aren't really using our social services while sending billions per year out of our economy back to their home countries, even if it isn't Mexico.

  • LBsrfr||

    "if Tea Party Republicans decide they dislike Mexicans less than they despise the Affordable Care Act (ACA.)"

    Sounds like a statement I'd expect to hear from Rachel Maddow or Chris Hayes. Or a no-border advocate. How about "if Tea Party Republicans decide they dislike illegal immigration less than they despise nationalized healthcare". To which I'd say it's a toss up. Both are equally capable of turning us into a third world country.

  • Homple||

    "Both are equally capable of turning us into a third world country."

    And the postulated grand bargain will combine the two and get us to third world status quicker than either one separately.

  • Homple||

    I'll believe in politician's sincerity about immigration reform when the immigration desks at all airports are manned as sporadically as the Mexican border.

  • SQRLSY One||

    Thank you, Terry Michael, for at least proposing a compromise! One that might actually work! Republicrats in general… Never mind if they wear tea-bags or tinfoil-hats, or not… And Demoblicans… Never mind whether they worship Marx, or not… Might AGREE to give up on Communist medicine, AND the obsessive blaming of everything on the ILLEGAL humanoids!!! GREAT compromise, woo-hoo!!! I for one get my dander up when “religious” Republicrats spout anti-illegal-humanoid rhetoric, as if GOD HIMSELF makes a huge big stinkin’ deal about 5 yards this way or 5 yards that way from the border, when Momma had to splat us out from her comfy womb… … Now… We can all dream, yes? How about an even bigger compromise? ALL of the conservatives agree to give up their self-righteous boners about abortion and illegal humans, and ALL of the liberals give up their self-righteous boners about how all we individual wage-earners are NOT competent to make out own charity choices… Only The Hive can chose… And we can ALL give up a little bit of our own self-righteousness, and migrate towards individual freedom? Radical concept, yes? I do believe that self-righteousness is ***THE*** mental / spiritual obstacle that stands between ALL of us, and a better future!

  • ||

    You are seriously the best poster since Hercules Triathalon left this mortal coil.

  • SQRLSY One||

    Thank You, DesigNate, for those kind words, and for once, you do NOT need to trot out your “sarcasmometer”… I do ‘fess up, at times, I am discouraged in my postings, for fear of not having anyone listen to me… For my part, I do try to listen to others, my efforts may be feeble at times… But honestly, though we libertardians may be “preaching to the choir” as they say, talking to pepples that MOSTLY agree with MOST of the things we say, we libertardians do NOT “think alike, on command”, as I saw some poster here say… And THAT, among other things, is why we will eventually be vindicated! Well anyway, THANK YOU for your kind words, and I am sorry to hear that “Hercules Triathalon left this mortal coil”… I have the utmost respect for the atheists and agnostics among us in this world… I was once among them, and all that they do, merely reminds us all believers, that they, too, the “unbelievers”… Have a piece of the Truth: God is SO devoted to free will, SO unwilling to strike down the evil-doers… So sorry to sound like BOOOOSH… That God might as well not exist! A transcending existence, yes… SOOO profoundly devoted to free will, that God might as well not exist!

  • SQRLSY One||

    A transcending existence, yes… SOOO profoundly devoted to free will, that God might as well not exist! OK, I babble… Thank your GOD for booze! What I mean to say is, pray for peace! Whoever you pray to, and whether they exist, or not… Is bogus! WHO can pray sincerely for peace, and then stab their neighbor in the back, in the next moment?!? By praying to “peace”/ benevolence/Love/conscience, by whatever name, we make REAL that which we pray to! … OK, enuff… Hercules Triathalon, I never met you, I will try to carry on in your name… And I trust that you and I (DesigNate) alike believe that Hercules Triathalon is now in a better place, having been promoted off of “this mortal coil”…

  • SQRLSY One||

    Well Shiites, my Friends… I was going to torture y’all endlessly with re-posts, not only of MINE own re-cycled SQRLSY One nuts / posts… But also, of those of HERCULES TRIATHLON SAVINIEN or HERCULES TRIATHLON or ???? Searched on the inter-Tubes, and I was NOT able to find JACK SHIT posted in the names of those that them thar search-strings… So… Unless y’all can provide me with BETTER search-strings to search with… I will SADLY be restricted to ONLY torturing y’all with ONLY mine OWN re-posts, and, SOOO sad to say, will NOT be able to collect (and re-post appropriately) the sayings of “Hercules”, unless y’all SAVINIEN me by gettin’ me a better search string? Or two? Help-help-help!

  • Sevo||

    Oh, well:
    "A VOICE FROM THE DARKNESS"
    "[R2P] RIGHT TO PETROLEUM- Libya-Japan-Europe maintaining the flow of commerce."...
    Read more: http://herculetriathlonsavinie.....z2mwGC4pYx

    Have at it!

  • SQRLSY One||

    Thanks, Sevo, am checkin' it out...

  • Car Scanner||

    So...I was expecting this article to be about how medical care is cheaper in Mexico.

  • Response||

    To me, any illegal alien that can pass a citizen test and speaks English fluent enough that they can't claim to not be able to speak English should be allowed to stay as a legal alien that can then be placed into the back of the line for citizenship considerations if they so choose. Additionally they should not be allowed on welfare until they have become citizens.

    I can't imagine moving myself to another country and not expecting to learn the primary language and the basics of citizenry. Also I would expect any country to throw me out if I was there just to collect benefits. What surprises me is how this is not the immigration standard of every nation across the globe.

    Any nation should be allowed to refuse a person who refuses to learn the language, refuses to abide by the rules, laws, and customs of a country, and who's there just to get benefits.

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  • ||

    Three prerequisites to liberalizing immigration: abolish all welfare and social entitlements, print government communications in english only, abolish affirmative action and civil rights act voting provisions.

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