In the spring, when it was clear that comprehensive immigration reform would be the year’s biggest legislative fight in Congress, the Heritage Foundation wanted to give far-right lawmakers the ammunition they’d need to kill the bill. The group published a report conservative Republicans could ostensibly use to justify their reflexive opposition to the bipartisan proposal.
The result was a fiasco. First, the report itself was exposed as ridiculous, even by conservatives who often agree with Heritage, relying on lazy and incomplete scholarship. Second, one of the report’s co-authors was a guy by the name of Jason Richwine, who’s spent quite a bit of time arguing that white people are inherently more intelligent than people of color.
Soon after, Richwine resigned from Heritage and fair-minded people dismissed the group’s discredited report as nonsense. And yet, as my MSNBC colleague Benjy Sarlin reported yesterday, Heritage hasn’t given up on its document just yet.
Heritage may have distanced itself from its former scholar’s views on race, but not the study he did for their think tank. In a memo to Congressional staff obtained by msnbc, Heritage legislative strategist Tripp Baird said that while some supporters of reform on the Hill this week are “well meaning” in their concern for immigrants, “they’re being used to advance an amnesty policy that is far from conservative, and will cost trillions to American taxpayers.” Another talking point suggests that evangelical Christians supporting immigration reform “probably aren’t aware of the severe fiscal consequences of amnesty for American taxpayers.”The “cost trillions” line echoes a report co-authored for Heritage by Robert Rector and Jason Richwine.
Yes, in May, Heritage’s report said immigration reform would cost over $6 trillion – a figure even many on the right found laughable. Soon after, independent analyses, including a report from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, found that the reform package would actually save hundreds of billions of dollars.
Stepping back, it appears the Heritage Foundation simply hopes lawmakers have forgotten what transpired six months ago. The group published its report, saw it quickly discredited, and largely stopped talking about it. That is, until now, when Heritage decided enough time has passed that it can start repeating the identical bogus claims all over again.
It’s difficult to imagine even the most craven lawmakers taking this seriously, but you never know. Be on the lookout for members touting Heritage talking points anyway.