As president, Bill Clinton was one savvy politician when it came to framing an issue to give it the chance to have the widest popular appeal.
He hasn't lost that ability in his post-presidency. At a forum Wednesday in Washington D.C. hosted by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation where the discussion focused on the national debt and deficits, Clinton was asked by the moderator, CBS News' Bob Schieffer, about immigration, a controversial issue in recent years that has flared up as a result of Arizona's new anti-illegal immigrant law.
Clinton framed the issue not as one of human decency or justice and tolerance but in economic terms.
His essential point was that for the U.S. economy to once again grow to the degree it must to ensure good jobs for more Americans, particularly white American men, it's going to take immigrants who will not only power the economy but reduce the tax burden on others.
The real reason there's anti-immigrant sentiment is if you look at the numbers. It's white male factory workers without a college degree got killed in the last decade. Men, in terms of their real wage loss, suffered even more than women did.
There's still a wage gap and women are not equally paid with men. But the burdens of the last decade's economic downturn fell basically on white male high school graduates, or non-high school graduates, or a couple years of college who just got shivered in this economy. I get it.
But they'll get more jobs if the economy grows. Their taxes will be lower if we've got more taxpayers. The pressures on Social Security and the changes we'll have to make will be slightly less draconian if we have more people contributing into the system.
So I don't think there's any alternative but for us to increase immigration. And you know we can start in the areas basically at the top and the bottom which will not displace people who are most insecure. But I feel very strongly about it. I just don't see any (garble) way out of this unless that's a part of the strategy.