In the wake of Donald Trump’s vile comments about immigrants from Haiti and Africa, the usual crowd of apologists at Fox News has lined up once again to defend the indefensible.
On Monday night, Tucker Carlson added his own take, launching an unhinged and wholly false tirade against the entire state of California during a segment on his show.
Speaking to attorney Cesar Vargas, who is an undocumented immigrant himself, Carlson tried to portray immigrants as a drain on the U.S. economy. Since California has more immigrants than any other state in the country, Carlson chose to focus his ire there.
“Let me ask you a really simple question,” he said to Vargas. “If more immigration always makes the country richer, then why does the state with the most immigration, which is California, keep getting poorer?”
Vargas responded by pointing out that California has a surplus of more than $10 billion.
“Wait a second. Wait a second,” Carlson interjected. “California’s gotten poorer — one in five Californians is poor. That was not the case when I grew up in California. It has the most immigration. So if immigration always makes us more prosperous, why is the opposite happening in California? It’s a very simple question.”
Indeed, it is a very simple question. And the answer is also quite simple: California is not getting poorer.
In fact, California’s economy is not only the largest of any state in the nation — it’s the sixth largest in the world, and the gap between California and the rest of the nation is growing. According to an analysis by Mother Jones, California’s GDP per capita was 3 percent higher than the national average in 1997. Today, it’s 13 percent higher.
While some economists who worry that the economic engine of California might slow down in the next few years, it is not because of immigration.
The Republican-backed tax bill is loaded with provisions that concern California economists.
“I think it shifts industries, resources and people away from California,” said Edward McCaffery, a tax law expert at the University of Southern California.
Other economists also note that while the fundamentals of California’s economy are still robust, the tax bill will be “a restraint on growth.”
“It won’t necessarily lead us to a turnaround or heading to a negative direction, but it will certainly pull back some of the positive things,” said Dave Smith, an economist at the Pepperdine University Graziadio School of Business and Management.
But Carlson wasn’t wasn’t willing to look at a reality that differed from his Trump-inspired anti-immigrant rant.
“Even though California is now poorer than Mississippi, immigration — which is the main thing that separates California from Mississippi — has no role in that, because why?” he asked. “Do you have data on that or you just kind of don’t want to admit it like everyone else?”
California is actually not poorer than Mississippi. But more importantly, immigration is not the main difference between the two states. While it’s true that California has more immigrants than Mississippi, it’s also true that California’s economy dwarfs Mississippi’s. And, as many have pointed out, the cost of living in California — not the concentration of immigrants — is a primary reason people are poor.
Vargas tried to make this point. “I don’t think that we have data to blame immigrants for every problem of the world,” he said.
But Carlson wasn’t interested in hearing anything that didn’t conform to his anti-immigrant narrative.
If Carlson was truly worried about the fundamentals of California’s economy, he would be grilling members of the California Republican congressional delegation.
Reps. Steve Knight and Mimi Walters were among the California Republicans woh lined up behind Donald Trump to provide the critical votes needed for a tax bill that would raise taxes on millions of Californians while threatening a growing economy.
While Carlson might ignore reality, no one will be able to ignore dissatisfied voters in November.