Jim Avila reports for ABC News that immigration-reform talks have collapsed in the House. Now, this doesn't spell doom for immigration reform. Sometimes "collapse" just means one side is bluffing. And even if it really is a collapse, a successful Senate bill could still get jammed through the House. The trouble sign is the reason behind the impasse:
The stumbling block is GOP insistence that newly legalized workers now working in the shadows have no access to government-sponsored health care during their 15-year pathway to citizenship, according to two sources with access to the secret house “Gang of 8″ meetings.
The trouble here, in others words, is that House Republicans' hatred of Obamacare is at such deranged levels that it is leeching into even largely unrelated problems. The House Democrats are arguing that the newly legalized immigrants will pay taxes, so they should have access to government benefits. And Republicans don't seem to be suggesting they must be excluded from Social Security or denied access to national parks.
But Obamacare is in a different category in their minds — a law so illegitimate and evil that nothing can be allowed to touch it at all. I certainly understand that conservatives have policy-based objections to the program. But the actual Republican response at this point can only be understood in psychological terms. Marco Rubio is proposing an anti-Obamacare constitutional amendment. South Carolina is about to pass a law that "would allow the state attorney general to take businesses, including health insurers, to court if he 'has reasonable cause to believe' they are harming people by implementing the law."
It's utter derangement. And the GOP Establishment has a pretty good plan in place to tamp down the party base's anti-illegal-immigration sentiments, but if immigration reform gets attached to Obamacare, it'll be like trying to debate free-speech law with angry crowds in Afghanistan in the wake of a Koran burning. The emotional animus just overwhelms any rational consideration.