Thursday, June 27, 2013

"Phony Poser"?

Yesterday was certainly a major news day. And yes, there was also big news on comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) as Senator Dean Heller (R) finally announced his support for S 744... After he and a few other Republican Senators got their way on extra pork border security. Now, the US Senate is on the verge of passing S 744 by an overwhelming margin. The final Senate vote may happen as soon as 1:00 PM today.

Yet while Senator Heller has been trying to bask in the glow of the moment in DC, a prominent media pundit back home began pointing out the radioactivity of the glow.

Whoops. But hey, Ralston isn't wrong. It wasn't all that long ago when Senator Dean Heller pulled this stunt.

Does Dean Heller really think Latin@ voters are that stupid? He claims he will work with fellow Republican and Latin Chamber of Commerce President Otto Merida to craft a "mutually agreeable reform bill". Ummm... Hello, Dean Heller! That "mutually agreeable reform bill" would be the same comprehensive immigration legislation that Republicans like recent Republican standard bearers George W. Bush and John McCain supported!

Of course, this isn't new for Dean Heller. He's regularly scapegoated Latinos for basically every perceived moral wrong one can think of! He's regularly twisted the facts and engaged in disgusting demagoguery to win the hearts and minds of paranoid teabaggers. But now that he's managed to show up at Hispanics in Politics and spew out a bunch of "moderate" hot air, we're supposed to forget about what he's actually done in Congress to block progress on comprehensive immigration reform and the DREAM Act?

Oh, and by the way, Latin@s care about more than just immigration. They want health care. They want education. They want opportunities to succeed just as much as the rest of us. So how on earth are they supposed to cheer on Dean Heller cheering on Wall Street robber barons as he proposes more painful, job killing, and all in all economically destructive "austerity" on all of us in the other 99%?

But then again, at least Senator Heller flip-flopped "evolved" on CIR just in time to pass S 744. Many House Republicans, on the other hand, aren't even there. And even as the bill heads toward easy Senate passage, it's (yet again) in jeopardy in the House.

As the Gang of Eight immigration reform bill slogs towards final passage in the Senate, most observers have been almost entirely focused on Republican sentiments on the legislation. Is the “road to citizenship” rocky enough? Are the border enforcement provisions vicious enough? Pro-reform pundits have cheered each time some cranky reactionary has allowed as how the legislation now has the right minimum element of sheer hatefulness. The peak, of course, has come with the Corker-Hoeven “border surge” amendment, which aside from its conservative-bait evocation of the Iraq War (which many on the Right consider a great American victory), is being praised by proponents as creating totalitarian police state conditions on the border.

And now, assuming House Republicans continue to be unimpressed by the “toughening” of the Gang of Eight bill, we’ll probably hear more calls for compromise by reform advocates. But at some point the whole coalition supporting comprehensive immigration reform is going to begin to crumble, and as the New York Times’ Fernanda Santos reports, that point may have already arrived [...]

It’s possible, of course, that congressional Democrats, the White House, and business lobbyists could say “no mas” and present the Senate bill as already amended as representing a “final offer,” since in reality there’s no bill providing a “path to citizenship” that is going to win over a majority of House Republicans. If the projected end-game is a decision by House conservatives to let John Boehner keep his gavel even as he allows House Democrats with a smattering of Republicans pass something like the Senate bill, why should there be any further talk of compromise?

That's why CIR advocates gathered outside Rep. Joe Heck's (R-Henderson) office on Monday. They wanted him to feel the pressure.

But then again, the 21st Century Know Nothings also showed up on Monday. And they're upset with Senator Heller over his flip-flop evolution. That's why House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is already running scared. And this may ultimately be the escape hatch that Rep. Heck and other House Republicans are counting on.

And ultimately, this is the dilemma Congressional Republicans still face. In their blatantly political about-faces, Gang of 8 friendly Republicans like Heller are hoping to score political points and make voters forget the entire 2012 campaign. Oh, and they also want a politically expedient way to pass pork projects off as "national security". Yet while they're hoping for mass amnesia, the G-O-TEA base refuses to forget. And that's why S 744 still faces such a treacherous future in the House.

Last night, Ralston called Senator Heller a "phony poser". He really isn't far off. But then again, this isn't limited to Heller. And this is why CIR has had such a wild ride in Congress so far this year.

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