Norah O'Donnell and Anthony Mason badgered National Review editor Rich Lowry on Wednesday's CBS This Morning over his opposition to the Senate's immigration reform bill. O'Donnell, who has a history of hardball interviews of conservative guests, wondered if there is a "civil war in the Republican Party" over the immigration issue, and hyped that "the Republican Party is in demographic death spiral unless they do something on immigration reform."
Mason touted the supposed "huge economic benefits" of the proposal, and brushed aside Lowry's slam of the bill as being "deeply flawed". The substitute anchor replied, "But you could say that about most legislation in Washington. Come on!" [audio available here; video below the jump]
O'Donnell led the segment by citing the Wall Street Journal's recent critique of the GOP on the controversial issue, emphasizing that the newspaper is "conservative", and continued with her "civil war" question. Lowry answered, in part, that "the Senate bill is a huge mistake...and the House is right to kill it, and I would expect it to kill it."
Mason then jumped in with his "huge economic benefits" claim about the Senate bill, and spotlighted that his guest wrote that "passing this bill is worse than passing nothing." The conservative editor countered that the bill "hurts people lower down in the income scale, and helps people higher up. Is that really a – a sound policy?" O'Donnell shot back, "Is it a sound argument to say because the bill's not perfect, you shouldn't pass it at all?"
Lowry responded with his "deeply flawed" label of the bill. When he tried to continue, Mason interrupted the National Review writer with his dismissive claim that "most legislation" is akin to the Senate immigration reform legislation.
Near the end of the interview, O'Donnell name-dropped former President George W. Bush and his brother Jeb, along with Marco Rubio and unnamed "conservative economic business leaders who all say you've got to pass some sort of immigration reform", and continued with her hyperbolic "demographic death spiral" prediction about the future of the Republican Party.
It should be pointed out that nearly two weeks earlier, O'Donnell and co-anchor Charlie Rose tossed softball questions at pro-abortion Texas State Senator Wendy Davis and trumpeted her as a "new star in Democratic politics" for her "marathon filibuster that went viral". The two CBS anchors all but encouraged Davis to run for higher office.
The full transcript of the O'Donnell/Mason interview of Rich Lowry from Wednesday's CBS This Morning:
NORAH O'DONNELL: And among the conservatives who have a problem with the reform plan – Rich Lowry, editor of the National Review. He co-authored a piece titled 'Kill the Bill' for The Weekly Standard. Rich Lowry, good morning.
RICH LOWRY, NATIONAL REVIEW EDITOR: How are you doing?
[CBS News Graphic: "'Kill The Bill': Lowry: Proposal Doesn't Solve Immigration Issues"]
O'DONNELL: Okay. I'm looking at the Wall Street Journal editorial page today – conservative – which says, 'The GOP is splintered and confused on immigration, and this has left the party with no coherent or winning message.' Is there a civil war in the Republican Party on this issue?
LOWRY: There are divisions on this issue – there's no doubt about it – and you see it in the House; you see it in the Senate. You see it – George W. Bush, the former president, is going to give a speech. He's always been in favor of comprehensive immigration reform.
I think the Senate bill is a huge mistake, though, and the House is right to kill it, and I would expect it to kill it.
ANTHONY MASON: But – so Rich, what do you make, then, of the Congressional Budget Office report that says there are huge economic benefits to passing it; that it will also cut the immigration problem, effectively, in half. I mean – but you say passing this bill is worse than passing nothing.
LOWRY: Well, they say by a third or a half, and that's assuming it's actually all going to be implemented, which I think is a very dubious assumption. We've gone through this story before. In 1986, we passed a similar bill – an amnesty with promised enforcement in the future. The enforcement never actually happened. And if you take CBO's word – by a third or a half – you still could get six, seven, eight million more illegal immigrants here in ten years. So, we would be looking at the very same problem we're facing now.
In terms of the economic benefit, there are small economic benefits, but it does have a re-distributive effect on wages. It hurts people lower down in the income scale, and helps people higher up. Is that really a – a sound policy?
[CBS News Graphic: "Gang Of Eight Bill: First 10 Years: federal deficit: [down] $175 billion; Second 10 years: federal deficit: [down] $700 billion; Source: Congressional Budget Office"]
O'DONNELL: Is it a sound argument to say because the bill's not perfect, you shouldn't pass it at all?
LOWRY: Well, it's not just that it's not perfect. It's deeply flawed, and what we're hearing-
MASON: But you could say that about most legislation in Washington. Come on!
LOWRY: Well, that's why I probably oppose most legislation in Washington. (laughs) But look, you know, Marco Rubio says we shouldn't to do this if we're going to come back and have to face the same problem, and I think we are.
O'DONNELL: Let me ask you, then, about not doing anything. You've got, essentially, George W. Bush; you have Jeb Bush; you have Marco Rubio; you have a number of conservative economic business leaders who all say you've got to pass some sort of immigration reform. The political element, then, is that the Republican Party is in demographic death spiral unless they do something on immigration reform. You think House Republicans should just do nothing?
LOWRY: Well, they can pass incremental enforcement measures that they think make sense, and enforcement is very popular with the public across the board among all groups. And the idea that you have to pass this particular bill at this particular moment or you're never going to win any Latino voters – again, I think is just silly. I think in 2014 – after the 2014 elections, Republicans – they may control the Senate. Then, you can work this thing from the opposite end. You can pass it all with Republican votes and pick off some Democrats – sort of the opposite strategy Chuck Schumer has had here – and then dare President Obama to veto it.
[CBS News Graphic: "Hispanic Vote In Presidential Elections: 2012: Democratic Candidate, 71%; Republican Candidate, 27%; 2008: Democratic Candidate, 67%; Republican Candidate, 31%; 2004: Democratic Candidate, 58%; Republican Candidate, 40%; Source; Pew Research Center Poll"]
O'DONNELL: All right. Rich Lowry, good to see you – thanks so much.
LOWRY: Thank you very much.