In an editorial this morning about illegal immigrants and health care, the New York Times declares, "The bills before Congress declare illegal immigrants to be ineligible for subsidized benefits. It is impossible to imagine any final bill doing otherwise."
Well, as Rep. Joe Wilson would say, "You lie!"
Alvin Rabushka, a senior fellow at the right-leaning Hoover Insitution who is best known for his advocacy of the flat tax, writes, "In his address to Congress (September 9, 2009), President Obama stated that illegal aliens would not be eligible to participate in his health insurance plan. One reason for all citizens to have insurance is to cut costs by curtailing emergency room use by the uninsured. The exclusion of illegals from his plan leaves some 10-15 million illegals still dependent on emergency rooms. Won't the exclusion raise the costs Obama says his plan will curtail?"
And I can imagine it, too. As I wrote immediately after the speech:
Two other parts of the speech struck me as slightly off. The first is when Mr. Obama seemed proud to deny that his plan would insure illegal immigrants. "Not true," the president said. Later in the address he went on to speak of health care as a "moral issue" and one that involves "the character of our country' and "fundamental principles of social justice." If that is the case, how can Mr. Obama justify -- other than as a cold political justification -- denying health care to a cancer-stricken young Mexican girl? If it is wrong for an insurance company to deny a needy patient chemotherapy on the basis of maximizing Wall Street profits, isn't it just as wrong for the Obama administration to deny a needy patient chemotherapy on account of her immigration status?
For all the talk about how capitalism and conservatism are in retreat, what a failure of the "liberal" imagination that the Times can't even imagine such a bill — at a time when both the House and Senate are controlled by Democrats whose party platform says that "America has always been a nation of immigrants."
Immigration can be a hard issue because two aspects of free-market capitalism collide. One is the rule of law, and the other is the desire for a free market in labor. The restrictions on undocumented foreign workers are government regulations of the labor market that serve to restrict the labor supply. But flagrantly disobeying those government regulations is a violation of the rule of law that offends the proposition that such laws ought to be applied impartially and predictably rather than generally ignored with the exception of high profile raids and roundups. Where's the sense in the idea that if you are an illegal immigrant, you can get an in-state tuition discount at the State University of New York or at Governor Huckabee's University of Arkansas, you can get vaccinated at a government-funded health clinic so that you can go to a government-funded elementary school, you can get food stamps so long as there is at least one American citizen in your household, and you can get treated by government-subsidized medical residents in an emergency room, but you aren't going to be able to get health insurance coverage under President Obama's highly touted reform. Not only aren't you going to be able to get coverage, but the New York Times says such coverage would be "impossible to imagine." Not difficult to imagine, but 'impossible."