These days pundits from across the political spectrum presume to speak for the Latino electorate.
Gabriela Domenzain makes this mistake in her opinion piece on October 13, 2013, where she writes as the voice of the entire Latino community against the entire Republican Party.
Gabriela suggests that Republicans will try to “trick Latinos into forgetting their voting record” as they increase engagement efforts within the community. But Gabriela and the Democratic Party hardly speak for the desires of all Latinos.
Gabriela cites that rising healthcare costs are at the top of Latinos' list of critical issues. Ironically, that is precisely what the GOP effort to stop Obamacare is all about: stopping the rise in healthcare costs that the law will create.
Report after report of "rate shock" from Americans looking to enroll in the exchanges undercuts supporters' claims that the law offers affordable access to health insurance (assuming they can even set up an account on the website). This is after Gabriela’s former boss boasted that the average annual premium will drop by $2,500.
Critics may respond that since Latinos are disproportionately poorer than whites, they’ll likely be more eligible for federal subsidies. Is that their strongest argument; that so long as Latinos remain poor, their healthcare costs will be marginally lower?
While Latinos remain disproportionately poor, there’s a rapidly growing middle class. What will happen when Latinos’ incomes increase, and find out they’re no longer eligible for the subsidies? The “Affordable” Care Act suddenly becomes much less affordable. Americans have been sold a bill of goods on Obamacare, and that is what the GOP has been fighting to stop.
Instead, the GOP has offered an alternative reform plan that gives real competition to the healthcare marketplace, allowing Latinos to purchase plans across state lines and having insurers be subject to anti-trust laws.
In addition, the Republican bill would allow families to deduct healthcare costs on their taxes, just as companies can, as well as enhancing high risk pools to protect those with pre-existing conditions. These are the kinds of reforms to help those most in need of assistance, without ruining the whole system.
Gabriela next cites House Republicans’ opposition to the Senate’s immigration reform bill as a cause for Latino ire against the GOP, in addition to opposition to the deferred action program.
She washes over the reality that Obama’s deferred action program, announced in July 2012, was a political gimmick to not only make up for his broken promise to pass immigration reform in his first term, but also to sabotage Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-Fla.) alternative DREAM Act proposal that was in the works. Coupled with record deportations and a 9 percent unemployment rate, President Obama has hardly been a responsive and productive ally to the Latino community.
And thanks to the president’s uncompromising attitude throughout the government shutdown, it appears even less likely that any broad immigration bill will pass the House of Representatives before the year is over.
This is not to excuse the faults of the GOP and their broken relationship with the Latino community. Instead, I write to counter the presumption that Latinos should fall in line with the Democrats and President Obama. Gabriela says that Republicans don’t “deserve” the Latino vote and that it would be “insulting for them to ask for it.”
In fact, it is insulting for Democrats to presume they don’t have to ask for it at all.
Samuel A. Rosado is an attorney who lives in New Jersey. In 2010, he served as Executive Director for the New Jersey chapter of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly. He has written about Hispanic issues and outreach on Politic365, Misfit Politics, and Latino Rebels. Follow him on Twitter at @FakeSamRosado.