The Mystery of the Shutdown Scenario has seemingly been solved. For a week or so, Dem-sourced commentators (e.g. Ambinder, WaPo's Plum Line, the NYT) have been seriously promoting the idea that Republicans would force a government shutdown in response to a pre-election de facto Obama executive amnesty of illegal immigrants--a shutdown that would prove politically toxic to Republicans, given their poll ratings after the last shutdown. The scenario never made much sense: It would not only require Republicans to be suicidally stupid, it would require them to be suicidally stupid after 15 columns from left-leaning pundits telegraphing a Dem strategy of goading them into doing something suicidally stupid. Various key GOPs quickly denied any shutdown plans.
Mickey Kaus | All Articles
Amne-geddon? Just between us, I've always had a briar-patchy attitude ** toward the prospect of a major Obama unilateral illegal-immigrant amnesty. My thinking was this:
TNR vs. NYT: New Republic's Danny Vinik takes issue with the New York Times' "prosecutorial discretion" defense of President Obama's rumored/threatened extension of executive protection (e.g., "deferred action") to millions of illegal immigrants. It's one thing to drop prosecutions on case by case basis, Vinik notes. It's another to exempt a whole category of people from any possibility that prosecutors may decide to come down on them -- that undermines the deterrent effect Congress presumably intended when it made some types of immigration unlawful. If a local county executive says "don't focus precious resources on drivers who aren't egregious speeders," you might drive a bit faster. But you still don't know for sure that you won't get a ticket for going 66 in a 65 zone. But if the executive says "nobody under 70 will get a ticket" -- well, then real speed limit will become 70, when the lawmakers intended it to be 65.
In a piece that came out election night, but reads as if it had been written two weeks earlier after a lunch with Lamar Alexander's pollster, WaPo's Sean Sullivan and Robert Costa write:
... or is it just his adviser who does? A day ago, Politico reported that incoming House GOP whip Rep. Steve Scalise uses the services of a Washington lobbyist, John Feehery, to help vet potential staffers. Ethical concerns were raised! (E.g., would Feehery, a former leadership aide, help hire people who would then owe him
[duh] and maybe help him gain access for his clients?) A "non-story," tweeted a New York Times reporter. But the real story was buried on Feehery's blog. Scalise, it seems, has sought out the counsel of someone filled with a sophomoric rage against the Tea Party faction that forms one backbone of the GOP caucus Scalise aspires to help lead. Here's a passage from Feehery's blog post,"The Tea Party Must Be Crushed" (I'm afraid the title gives it away):
We got business, we got labor, we got evangelicals. You expect me to get Congress too? Like many others, I've been on the lookout for examples of corporatism -- the tendency to replace the formal individuated equality of the market, universal rights and democracy with rule by society's various big interest groups, exercising special privileges by virtue of their particular social role and cutting deals with each other (usually to protect themselves).** Some examples of corporatism: Special privileges for reporters (they're "society's eyes and ears"!) or big banks (they're "too big to fail"). Corporatism's acutely fascinating because it's insidious, anti-democratic, sclerotic and perhaps inevitable. (If a bank is too big to let fail, as arguably several are, then that bank will almost by definition be specially shielded from the Darwinian struggle the market. Those special privileges may come with special responsibilities, but that makes them more corporatist, not less.)
The latest reporting suggests House Speaker John Boehner thinks a bit of tweaking will save his border bill --- after it was (embarrassingly) pulled from the floor Thursday due to lack of majority support. Washington Examiner's Susan Ferrechio tweets:
As predicted, the House leadership has sprung its "supertrap" on conservative dissenters, luring them to vote for a flawed border bill with the promise of a second vote on a law purporting to prevent President Obama from expanding his de facto "deferred action" (DACA) amnesty of young illegal immigrants (the so-called "DREAMers"). The main bill is itself still deeply flawed:
Update (7/29, 2:35 P.M. EDT): Senate Democrats are now explicitly saying they will try to use Boehner's border bill as a vehicle for broad, "Gang of 8" style amnesty, and immigration activists are urging them on. All the more reason to call ((202) 224-3121). A House vote on Boehner's bill is expected Thursday.
Remind me to never hire Rep. Matt Salmon of Arizona to coach a football team. Congressman Salmon, a member of Speaker Boehner's "Border Crisis Working Group," recently took to Breitbart.com to urge Republicans to approve the group's recommendations, which include an amendment to the 2008 Wilberforce law (which the Obama administration has interpreted to guarantee semi-judicial hearings to virtually all of the Central Americans who show up at the border):
The 'Down Payment' Ploy, Coming Right Up: Immigration "comprehensivists" claim Obama's promised executive actions to protect illegal immigrants constitute a kind of doomsday weapon directed at the Republican party. If Obama acts boldly to offer de facto legalization to, say, "up to half of the undocumented population" of 11 million illegals living here, it will cement an unshakeable bond between Latino voters and their political champion -- or so the argument goes. The more Republicans complain and stamp their feet the more they'll "lastingly" alienate this growing ethnic bloc, predicts Ron Brownstein. **
Just when anti-amnesty forces thought they'd won ... It looks as if "comprehensive immigration reform" is dead for 2014. Everybody's saying it! Republican voters in Virginia and Alabama have spoken forcefully on the subject. Eric Cantor is now a promising young lobbyist. Meanwhile the chaos on the Texas-Mexico border demonstrates vividly that if you promise an amnesty, lots of people living abroad in unpleasant circumstances will heed the signal and come here whether or not they technically qualify under all the fine print of a law.
"Trust" is for Con Men: The reaction to the border chaos in Texas has accomplished one thing: It has exploded the lie at the heart of current "comprehensive" immigration reform plans. The basic structure of those plans is a swap of a) near-immediate legalization for b) increased border security in the future. The appealing idea is to let current illegals stay while taking the steps necessary to prevent further waves. The lie is the assumption that, once current illegals get their legalization, pro-immigrant activists in both parties will continue to support the second half of the bargain, the increased security.
Car and Pollster: I don't even want to think about the intricate political calculations involved in picking out Malia Obama's new car. The poor girl's going to get stuck with a Cruze... Update: A Volt, you say? She'd be lucky to get a Volt. People who have them like them. But it seems a little upscale, and would remind voters of Obama and GM then-CEO Dan Akerson's insane projections for electric vehicle sales. ...
Triangulation Beats Coalition Maintenance, Part XVIII: Major Garrett produces an excellent account** of Obama's meeting with immigration activists last Monday, before the president announced he'd take "aggressive" executive actions to "fix as much of our immigration system as we can" without going through Congress. Highlights:
Water, Carried: Politico's Seung Min Kim and Carrie Budoff Brown sum up "How immigration reform died." Some questions for them:
Obama's amnesty strategy isn't a partial shambles: A few months ago, I punditized that (contrary to reports in the press and threats by his allies) President Obama would not take executive actions that amounted to any kind of sweeping de facto amnesty,** at least not before the November election -- even if Congress refused to give him the "comprehensive" immigration legislation he wants. I figured Obama would simply keep his base happy with an incremental cutback in deportations, along the lines suggested by former acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement director John Sandweg. Meanwhile he'd hold out hope for a bill.
My colleague Matt Lewis buried the lede in his account of that after-action Cantordammerung robo-poll, which found that for a majority (52%) of Dave Brat voters the issue of "Cantor's position on immigration reform" was either the "main reason" or "a significant part of the reason" for their vote. (Breitbart's Tony Lee did not bury this lede.)
Mad Non-Libs: One thing President Obama is good at is baiting Republicans. I'm not sure he's not at it again with immigration.
You knew Majority Leader Eric Cantor was vulnerable--the press had already reported a non-trivial Anybody But Cantor vote in his district. But I would have settled for his challenger, Dave Brat, getting more than 40%. I was all ready to (legitimately) spin that as a warning shot across Cantor's bow. Instead, Brat went and actually beat Cantor--decisively, by 10 points, 55% to 45%. He and his campaign manager Zachary Werrell obviously ran a very effective race with minimal resources--against Cantor's millions. Independent anti-Cantor actors like the We Deserve Better group -- and various local conspiracies we don't even know about -- probably played a role as well.**