As you know, I’ve been arguing that if Republicans don’t move on immigration before the August recess, acting may be even harder next year, meaning Republicans may lose their chance to put their stamp on reform — and begin to fix their Latino problem — before the next presidential election. There’s been little indication that Republicans have given any thought to the immigration calendar, preferring only to focus on their inevitable Glorious Victory this fall.
Now Politico moves the ball forward with a story reporting that it is becoming increasingly apparent to many lawmakers that, if nothing happens this year, nothing is likely to happen until 2017 at the earliest. As Politico puts it, there is “growing pessimism on Capitol Hill that a sweeping immigration bill is achievable in President Barack Obama’s second term if nothing passes this year.”
Various factors are shaping this reality: The Senate bill expires at the end of the year. The GOP presidential primary will get underway next year. If Congress doesn’t act now, Obama may have to act alone, making legislative reform next year harder still.
The big takeaway: Republicans appear aware the window for action is closing fast. And what this really means is that, if they continue to stall this year, they are in effect giving up on even trying to repair their Latino problem before another presidential election in which the Latino share of the vote is only going to rise in key states.
Indeed, Politico quotes several Republicans (John Cornyn, Chuck Grassley) indulging in the usual evasiveness on this issue, with both confirming (without saying so openly) that Republicans just aren’t going to move on anything involving legal status for the 11 million. This is a reminder that the primary obstacle to reform remains GOP unwillingness to entertain legal status under any circumstances, and that the notion that a GOP-controlled Senate will somehow pass immigration reform next year that can get Republicans right with Latinos is pure fantasy.
Worst of all, this comes right at the moment where the media narrative has it that the GOP establishment supposedly is vanquishing the more extreme elements in the party. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce — which supports reform — spent big on yesterday’s establishment victories, and the one GOP primary challenge to a lawmaker over her support for legalization fizzled. (John Boehner adviser Becky Tallent alerted folks to that fact, suggesting GOP leaders are thinking along these lines.)
Pro-reform Republicans have long said that the risks to Republican lawmakers in supporting legalization — and incurring the fearsome wrath of the right – have in fact been grossly exaggerated. That seems particularly hard to argue with right at the present moment, given the current course of GOP primaries. Meanwhile, Republicans are increasingly convinced that if nothing gets done now (and remember, Republican leaders themselves have said the status quo is unacceptable) nothing may get done for years to come. So what’s the excuse for inaction at this point?
* GRIMES GOES UP WITH FIRST AD: Kentucky secretary of state Alison Lundergan Grimes is up with her first statewide ad, a positive spot that highlights her work in bringing Dems and Republicans together behind a measure to make it easier for soldiers from the state serving overseas to vote. The specific topic chosen, and the spot’s conclusion — “Washington should work this way” — are a reminder of how heavily she’s grounding her candidacy in the state and working to achieve distance from D.C. Democrats, a must for Dems in tough red-state contests.
* McCONNELL ON THE AIR FOR MONTHS: ABC News, in discussing the new Grimes ad, makes a key point:
It is significant that Grimes has been able to stay off the air this long and essentially save the money she has been fundraising until now in the election cycle. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has been on the air since January, but he is also facing a primary opponent, Matt Bevin.
McConnell has aired straight positive spots about himself that seem designed for the general election audience, and despite no advertising from Grimes, the race remains a dead heat in the polling averages.
* NO, THOM TILLIS ISN’T A MODERATE: The Dem-allied Americans United for Change is out with a new Web video that recaps North Carolina GOP Senate nominee Thom Tillis’ conservative positions, including his opposition to a federal minimum wage and the Medicaid expansion, support for a Personhood measure, and 2011 suggestion that we should “divide and conquer” those on public assistance. Dems are moving to define Tillis as far outside the mainstream, a case bolstered by his work in engineering the state’s sharp rightward turn, which has already drawn national attention.
* REPUBLICANS LOSING INTEREST IN TEA PARTY: Gallup reports that support among Republicans for the Tea Party continues to drop, and is down by one-third since the halcyon days of 2010:
About four in 10 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents classify themselves as supporters of the Tea Party, while 11% are opponents and 48% are neither. This continues to be a significant drop from the Tea Party’s high-water mark in November 2010, when 61% of Republicans were supporters of the Tea Party…The drop in support for the Tea Party among Republicans is mainly responsible for the drop in support among all Americans since November 2010, from 32% to today’s 22%.
And yet, the GOP position on most issues — immigration; the minimum wage; gay rights; etc.– continues to reflect the priorities and preoccupations of the more extreme elements within the party.
* REPUBLICANS DODGING BULLET IN GEORGIA? Paul Kane has a useful piece reporting out the state of the GOP Senate primary in Georgia, where the two Tea Party candidates (Reps. Paul Broun and Phil Gingrey) appear increasingly unlikely to get into a runoff, meaning a more mainstream candidate is likely to be the nominee. This is trouble for Dems: A surprise pickup here — which will become significantly less likely if the Tea Partyers fade — is one of a dwindling number of wans Dems could make the GOP road to the majority much steeper.
* GOP TO INSURERS: CONFIRM OUR BOGUS TALKING POINTS, NOW! Robert Pear has a nicely understated piece reporting on the refusal of insurance industry executives to lend credence to GOP talking points against Obamacare:
Insurers refused to go along with the plan, and surprised Republican critics of the law by undercutting some of their arguments against it. Insurers, appearing before a panel of the Energy and Commerce Committee, testified that the law had not led to a government takeover of their industry, as some Republicans had predicted. Indeed, several insurers said their stock prices had increased in the last few years. The executives also declined to endorse Republican predictions of a sharp increase in insurance premiums next year, saying they did not have enough data or experience to forecast prices.
Behold the Closed Conservative Information Feedback Loop in action…
*AND YET ANOTHER ANTI-ACA TALKING POINT, DEBUNKED: Michael Hiltzik has a good wrap-up of the crash-and-burn of all the arguments coming from the “anti-Obamacare dead-enders,” noting this:
The Committee for a Responsible Federal Government, one of Washington’s most reliable deficit scolds, on Tuesday issued an analysis acknowledging that the ACA has helped to bring down projections of federal healthcare spending from 2011 to 2021 by $900 billion. The group called this “a remarkable slowdown,” which is high praise in their book. For anti-Obamacare dead-enders still claiming that the ACA will increase the federal deficit — a claim the Congressional Budget Office has consistently debunked — this is another data point to give them a sad.
(Update: Lead item edited slightly for clarity.)