* House Republicans released their much-anticipated immigration reform principles today, and they are vague on the points that matter most, which leaves open the possibility of success later (or, obviously, failure). Two quick points:
1) The principles say the 11 million can live and work here legally, but only after “specific enforcement triggers have been implemented.” What will matter later is what those triggers actually turn out to be in legislation. Certain triggers might work; I already detailed what would represent serious trouble on that front right here. But the fact that overly onerous triggers were not specified — and legalization was embraced — represent progress.
2) It says there will be “no special pathway to citizenship,” which is not surprising. The key nuance is that the principles do not preclude citizenship through normal channels for those who are legalized. Dems might accept such an outcome under certain circumstances. If the actual GOP legislation does specify that those legalized can never become citizens, that’ll make success virtually impossible, but whether that will happen remains an unknown. All in all, a step forward. (greg sargent)
* Another top story: Treasury Secretary Jack Lew met with Democratic lawmakers to inform them he would run out of borrowing authority on February 7th, and the “extraordinary measures” will only last about a month. The government could default by the end of February, but Lew urged the Dems not to negotiate over paying the bills.
It’s hard to take this kind of thing seriously. Republicans do remember they’ve already capitulated on this one before, right? Why bother with this song and dance?
* Jared Bernstein has a few final thoughts on the SOTU, and why this one might stick around for longer than the average:
When the debate is on the deficit turf, it’s a debate about cutting spending or raising taxes, one that demonstrably leads to the black hole of the grand bargain…Conversely, when the debate instead turns to sticky poverty rates, more jobs at better wages, and an “opportunity agenda,” it is on a turf that has the potential to lead somewhere.
“I think in recent weeks, if anything I’ve seen the rhetoric lowered,” he said. “I’ve seen the president pull back and not castigate or throw some bombs but say, ‘Well, where are the steps we can find common ground on?’”
* Matt Bruenig explains just how the vast majority of subsidies for retirement savings are captured by the wealthy: “the richest quintile receives 33x more federal money for their retirement accounts than the poorest quintile.” Funny how you rarely hear Republicans complaining about these welfare parasites.
* The Senate is close to a deal on unemployment insurance, which has centered on finding a (completely unnecessary) “pay-for”. Republicans are using some tricky budgeting, though, reports Danny Vinik:
Republicans rejected the Democrats’ original proposal of future Medicare provider cuts on the grounds that they were uncertain to materialize. But now, they are close to accepting a “pension funding” gimmick in which the savings are certain not to materialize…Effectively, Republicans are tricking their supporters into believing that the bill has a spending offset. In the process, they can avoid the political backlash of killing the UI extension. It’s great politics.
So long as we can get the UI extension, then fair enough.
* Are there any top-tier far-right nominees for 2016? Depends on your definition, but probably not: “Even if you add in the 10 percent for Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.), who lost his support among the hard-core right over immigration, the mainstream establishment candidates outweigh the tea partyers 51 percent to 33 percent.” We should note that by historical standards, this is a pretty expansive definition of “mainstream.”
* The Sunday shows continue to be overwhelmingly white and male. The two major exceptions are both on MSNBC: UP and, especially, Melissa Harris-Perry, who is really doing groundbreaking work on diversity. I think white guys who think MHP is self-evidently not our “foremost” public intellectual ought to look at those charts and think again. What is the public in question?
* Nice piece by Philip Bump on how racism partly enabled the Atlanta snow-driven traffic nightmare. Wonder how younger folks driving less and less will change the politics of urban transit.
* And dangit, Greg has claimed the coveted Rush Limbaugh “well-known leftist” title! I really had my fingers crossed for that one, but I guess you can’t pull one over on old Rush. #FULLCOMMUNISM