The MarcoPhone

If you want to understand the political tightrope Marco Rubio is walking in his involvement with the Gang of Eight immigration bill, check out this post from a leading Florida conservative political site, The Shark Tank:

With the new ‘Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act’ finally being filed in the U.S. Senate, concerns over how much money the immigration reform bill will cost an already debt-ridden United States continues to swirl among Americans who are already strapped for cash.

According to the newly filed bill, immigrants who are allowed to enter the United States under a work visa, will be ‘granted’ a taxpayer funded cellular phone. Move over “Obama phone,” we present the new ‘Hola, Como Estas?!’ MarcoPhone.

The reference to the “Obama phone” is an allusion, of course, to the bizarre conservative obsession with a federal phone subsidy program for low-income people begun during the Reagan administration and expanded to include cellphones by the George W. Bush administration.

It seems the Gang of Eight bill has a provision providing grants to people vulnerable to border violence to obtain cell phone service for emergency purposes. Hence, the MarcoPhone:

Rubio told Laura Ingraham that the reported “MarcoPhone” was “not for the illegal immigrant,” but ” for the US citizens and residents who live along the border.” But according to the legislation that he helped write, those “residing” along the border are not identified as being U.S. Citizens or even U.S. residents. So what’s ‘it going to be, Marco?

I’m having trouble feeling bad for Rubio getting a taste of what it’s like to be on the receiving end of a Tea Party delusion. But it’s a real enough problem for him if he wants to ride the two horses of “Latino candidate” and “Tea Party candidate” to the White House.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.