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Rubin: Arguments that are hard to take seriously

Published February 11, 2014 1:09 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Politicians and pundits seem to be making unusually bad arguments these days. I'm not sure some of them are even serious. For example:

• Vice President Biden: "There may be reasons why I don't run, but there's no obvious reason, for me, why I think I should not run."

Oh, sure there is, Joe: You're going to be 73 years old in 2016. Hillary Clinton would trounce you. The media would mock you. And you would probably say a bunch of stuff that would embarrass your current boss.

• Democrats: Obamacare will make sure you're not "locked" into a job.

Well, health-care reform was supposed to work that way. The idea was to increase jobs and economic growth. But if Democrats think they can persuade working Americans to subsidize health care for able-bodied people who'd rather work part time, they should go for it.

• Critics: Immigration reform would imperil working Americans.

First, it's a bigger competitive threat to U.S. workers for people already here illegally to be subject to exploitation, such as working for less-than-legal wages or in dangerous conditions. Second, most free-market economists believe the anti-growth argument is bunk, especially with regard to high-skilled workers. (If illegal immigration destroys jobs for native-born Americans, why is Texas the leader in job creation over the past few years?) Third, securing the border most likely will require a negotiated comprehensive immigration package. This would include E-Verify, guest-worker provisions (which minimize permanent, illegal migration) and regulation of visa overstays. Fourth, what would happen to the economy if 11 million people were deported or self-deported? (If 2.5 million people leaving jobs because of Obamacare is bad news, why isn't 11 million people exiting even worse?)

• Anti-immigration Republicans: We can't pass immigration because we don't trust the president to enforce it.

Puh-leez. The absence of legislation would make it easier, should the president decide to play king for a day, to do whatever he wants. More to the point, lawmakers could set immigration reform to take effect when he leaves office. Considering the time a measure on border security would take to pass and advance, that would be the outcome anyway.

• Anti-internationalists on the right and left: We don't have national interests in Syria.

Jeffrey Goldberg tentatively argued Sunday that "this story is moving out of the humanitarian catastrophe column or the 'this is bad for our regional allies' column into a kind of pre-9/11 Afghanistan story." Actually, it has been that way for years. Syria's civil war has ravaged U.S. credibility and bolstered Syria's partners Iran and Hezbollah. As expected, Syrian President Bashar Assad has slow-walked compliance with the chemical weapons agreement — and prohibiting the proliferation and use of weapons of mass destruction is a very real U.S. interest.

• Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.: Democrats should give back campaign money from the purported "sexual predator" Bill Clinton.

Really, does this sound like a serious person who wants to be president?