Idaho’s Labrador: Reform immigration or give up on electing a GOP president

Republican Congressman Raul Labrador said Wednesday that Mitt Romney’s unpopularity among Hispanics was key to his defeat and that Republicans must press for immigration reform or give up on electing a GOP president.

“We are never going to be a majority party if we don’t figure out a way to reach out to the Hispanic community,” said Labrador, a native of Puerto Rico re-elected to his second term. “So we have to find a conservative consensus on immigration.”

Labrador spoke during a Capitol Hill news conference sponsored by a group he co-chairs, Conversations with Conservatives. The hour-long news conference is archived on C-SPAN.

Labrador co-sponsored a bill to loosen work visa requirements for students with degrees in science, technology, engineering and math, which failed this fall. He vowed to continue pressing for reform in the coming two years.

“We can’t keep punting the ball for the next Congress to fix this issue,” he said. “I’m trying to get the conservatives here in the House to work on this issue, to find a solution to the immigration problem.”

Labrador said Republican opposition to immigration reform leaves many Hispanics unwilling to consider voting GOP.

“One of the main reasons that we lost is because Romney got 27 percent of the Hispanic vote,” Labrador said. “If we continue to get 27 percent of the vote for the rest of our lives we will continue to lose every single presidential election that’s out there.”

Labrador said clearing the immigration hurdle could bring a wave of votes for the GOP. “Hispanics agree with us on social issues, they agree with us on fiscal issues, they’re usually business oriented….They don’t want higher taxes. But we cannot even reach them with our message if they feel like they’re not welcome in our party.”

Labrador also said he agrees with Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan’s analysis that Romney lost because Americans felt like the GOP doesn’t care about ordinary Americans.

“We have done a terrible job as a party letting the American people know that we care about them, that we’re not the party of big business,” Labrador said. “We’re the party of small business, were the party of entrepreneurs.”

“It’s the average American people that have a hard time under a Democratic administration – it’s Hispanics, African Americans, women who have been losing jobs, who have been losing houses. And we have done a terrible job of selling that message.”

On the “fiscal cliff,” Labrador said Republicans should insist on a plan from President Obama that includes specific spending cuts, a plan he doubts the president will produce because of pressure from his party’s left.

“I don’t think they’re open minded in any way,” Labrador said. “I think we as Republicans need to stop negotiating with ourselves and we need to wait for the Democrats to actually give us an offer that is a real, serious offer.…He was elected the president. Let him lead.”

Labrador said House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, shouldn’t give in on Obama’s call for tax rate increases on families making over $250,000 a year. “(Boehner’s) talking about reforming the Tax Code and that we will get revenue through growth….At this point, that should be our line: That we will be OK with new revenue that comes through growth in our GDP.”

Labrador, however, appeared to open the door to at least a small net increase in tax revenue. He said the rejection of a hypothetical deal for $10 in spending cuts for every $1 in revenue increases by the GOP presidential candidates was a mistake. (All the GOP candidates at an August 2011 debate in Iowa rejected that offer: Romney, Rep. Michele Bachmann, Rep. Ron Paul, Herman Cain, Rick Santorum, Tim Pawlenty, Jon Huntsman, and Newt Gingrich.)

“No one raised their hand,” Labrador recalled. “I actually would have raised my hand…but I would have said, ‘Yes, if the $10 in spending cuts happen today, not 10 years from now, if the $10 spending cuts are actually real cuts in spending and not proposed cuts in growth.”

Added Labrador: “If the president came to me with a 10-to-1 deal where he’s going to cut $10 in spending today for me to raise $1 in taxes, I would probably consider that deal.”

But Labrador also said he’s not persuaded that the prospect of $1 trillion in cuts under sequestration – half from the Pentagon and half from entitlements – is enough to agree to tax increases.

“I actually warned the (House Republican) Conference that the sequestration would lead to higher taxes because we were being painted into a corner, where the cuts were coming from the military and from payments to (health care) providers. Those are two constituencies that tend to be more Republican than Democrat. I thought it was a mistake for us to do it then and now I’m not going to increase taxes on the American people so we can get out of a deal that I didn’t vote for.”

Labrador said Obama and the GOP House have opposing mandates on tax increases and signaled a willingness to break with GOP leadership.

“He has a mandate to talk about it and we have a mandate to fight it,” Labrador said. “I think that’s what the American people elected us to do and we will continue to fight any member of our Conference that decides this is a good time to raise taxes.”

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The Republicans bow to Norquist, and Labrador says this???

“I don’t think they’re open minded in any way,” Labrador said.

Your problems are bigger than the Latino vote.

"No his mind is not for rent, to any god or government." Neil Peart

"Labrador said clearing the

"Labrador said clearing the immigration hurdle could bring a wave of votes for the GOP. “Hispanics agree with us on social issues, they agree with us on fiscal issues, they’re usually business oriented….They don’t want higher taxes."

Dream on, Congressman. Those are naive and uninformed assumptions that have no basis in reality or socio-economic statistics. Hispanics by and large favor big government, because like African-Americans, they have come to see that jobs in the public sector are their quickest path to middle class status. They favor higher taxes on the rich, because most of them blame the rich for why they felt forced to leave their countries of origin. Their grandparents' struggles against large land owners is as much a part of their psyche as the struggle against tyranny and monarchy has been built into the American mindset. Young Hispanics who have been educated in our secular school system identify more strongly with Sandra Fluke's values than their parents' Catholicism.

I'm convinced the open-borders crowd are the ones who invented this imaginary Hispanic-conservative prototype to deceive Republicans. I'm in favor of immigration reform but not for the purpose of improving voter turnout for either political party. Our country has more than enough uninformed voters.

Bytheway....you are correct in that most

Hispanics and Latinos that I know are conservative but lean towards the Democrats because that is what they know and are told....

Republicans just need to reach and talk to the people....All the people, hispanic, white, black, etc....it is Karl Rove that needs to go....

United States is in serious trouble....stocks down 1000 points since election and it will continue. This will affect all of us....

The economy will not be pretty by 2014....I think the Democrats are gloating way too soon. They are gloating, yet no problem fixing as usual....That will cost them and many Americans.

Ugly, most of the Hispanics

Ugly, most of the Hispanics I have known all had green cards. Although most of them had been in the country for a number of years, they spoke very little English. We didn't talk about politics, per se, but I would ask them if they were pursuing American citizenship or planned to do so, and they all said no. My friend Domingo had a large family (about 7 kids). He was happy that his children were American citizens, but he didn't see why he should become one, and he hoped to return to Mexico as soon as his children were old enough to support him. He explained that is why many Mexicans have large families, that it's not about religious convictions, but about the duty of adult children to take care of their parents - the more children you have, the smaller the burden on each one. I suppose you could argue that represents a conservative value system - families taking care of their own and not depending on the government - but there is also an element of dependency to it. What obstacles were preventing Domingo from learning English, improving his job skills (he was a prep cook) maybe -just maybe - making enough money to leave an inheritance for his children or at least be able to care for his own economic needs in old age? When I lived in Lake Tahoe and later Reno, there were thousands of Hispanics just like Domingo who had brought their bodies but not their hearts to America. They were good people, hard workers, but lacking any ambitions to become full citizens and strive for upward mobility. But what about Domingo's children who must be young adults by now, and who are American citizens, but who grew up poor in an Hispanic enclave (trailer court) where English was never spoken? What value system have they acquired? You say Republicans need to just reach out and talk to them, but talk to them about what exactly? Free enterprise or rent controls? Most voters, whether a minority or a member of the white majority, do not think abstractly. They are looking for something tangible. A tax cut for one group, free health care for another and on and on.

The problem isn't an unwillingness to reach out and talk to people, it's an unwillingness to expand the reaches of government to pander for votes the way the Democrats do. If that's what it takes to win elections, then we will have to accept the fact the great American experiment in self-government is finally finished, that Big Brother won.

Foreigners come here and don't assimilate, but send money out

This money that is going out of our country should be taxed. That is - a tax for sending out of the country.

FO can't pay IN becase they want a CREDIT CARD...

And I've proven that this paywall is as porous as wet Charmin all night.

I think I've made enough points for now.

FIX IT, you're RIPPING PEOPLE OFF.

I wonder, if I sign out will I get the green thing?

You'd better hope so!

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Nothing happened and what if it did?

Took a lot longer...

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Nothing happened and what if it did?