Monday, February 10, 2014

Coming Back to Bite Them

No one can say we didn't warn everyone. When House Republican "leaders" unveiled their "principles for immigration reform", we sounded the alarms. And sure enough, and within days of the release of those "principles", Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) threw cold water on all those "principles".

That's why we then warned House Republicans that they can't have it both ways on comprehensive immigration reform (CIR). They can't simultaneously be for it and against it. They can't say they want it, then reject every possible way to make it happen. They can't "have their cake and eat it too".

And yesterday, this became all too apparent when Senator Chuck Schumer (D-New York) made an offer that Republicans theoretically shouldn't refuse.

"There's a simple solution: Let's enact the law this year but simply not let it actually start until 2017, after President Obama's term is over," Schumer, the third-ranking Senate Democrat said on NBC's "Meet The Press."

A spokesman for House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) rejected Schumer's idea saying it would remove the impetus for Obama to enforce immigration laws during his remaining time in office.

"The suggestion is entirely impractical, since it would totally eliminate the President's incentive to enforce immigration law for the remainder of his term," said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel.

To be fair, Mr. Steel has a point. Obviously, the new immigration law would remain dormant for the remainder of President Obama's second term. That would mean the President would have to enforce current law, and that would likely put additional pressure on President Obama to add to his already record breaking number of deportations made during his presidency. (Oops, we don't think that's the message Michael Steel wanted to convey.)

But then again, this isn't why Republicans are dragging their feet on CIR. We know it has nothing to do with President Obama's record of enforcing current immigration law. Rather, it has everything to do with Republicans' tempestuous relationship with their own 21st Century Know Nothing base. While Republican "leaders" know their fealty to the G-O-TEA Culture Warrior agenda causes them a boatload of problems among the general electorate, they just can't seem to quit their addiction to all that "TEA" fueled rage. (After all, that rage is now the party's base.)

And now, that rage is fully consuming them alive. We've asked this before, but we must ask it again today: How is this helping the Republican Party or the nation?

Unfortunately, Salon's Alex Pareene recently hit the nail on the head with his explanation of why CIR can't pass this Congress.

[...] “Comprehensive immigration reform” — defined as a bill making it possible for currently undocumented residents to earn legal status and/or citizenship — can’t happen now because Republicans control the House of Representatives, conservatives control the Republican Party, and conservatives oppose granting legal status to undocumented immigrants. It’s a very simple calculation, and most discussions of the political status of immigration reform could start and end with some variation on that explanation.

But people need something to talk about, and politicians need reasons to go on Sunday shows. Elected officials need to “signal” to important donors and interest groups that they are doing everything in their power to enact the preferred policies of those important donors and interest groups. There is really more incentive for Republicans to talk about immigration reform than to actually pass it. Obviously lots of Republicans do sincerely want immigration reform to pass. But those Republicans don’t have a majority in the House, and until that changes, immigration reform will be practically politically impossible. [...]

It has become incredibly difficult even to pass the recurring omnibus bills — like the farm bill, which took a few years to make it through the House, and the transportation bill, which will likely cause Congress to melt down in acrimony and dysfunction once again later this fall — that Congress uses to keep the government funded and operating. The idea that new initiatives and major reforms might be possible with this Congress is just fantasy. Comprehensive tax reform? Immigration reform? “Entitlement reform”? Various politicians will claim, over the next few months, that all of those things and more could happen before the next Congress is sworn in. They will be wrong, but the political press, in need of something to talk about, will take the idea seriously for a while anyway.

True, that. If G-O-TEA Culture Warriors can even jeopardize the full faith & credit of the US, what makes anyone think they'll let Congress pass CIR?

But wait, what if we don't need their permission to pass CIR? After all, we actually don't. It's only Republican "leaders" who imposed this artificial condition on the rest of America. And they can easily drop this artificial condition and allow a floor vote on HR 15. Or at the very least, they can allow their "pro-reform" backbenchers (cough- Joe Heck- cough) to sign a discharge petition for HR 15 so that G-O-TEA "leadership" won't be blamed for showing any real leadership on immigration reform.

But so far, G-O-TEA "leadership" won't even allow for that. And one day, they will regret it. As long as they try to kill CIR softly, it will only come back to bite them later.

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