July 25

A new CNN poll finds that a majority of Americans oppose impeaching Obama by 65-33, and oppose the House GOP lawsuit against the president by 57-41. A majority disagree by 52-45 that he’s gone too far in expanding executive power.

You’ll be shocked to hear that only Republicans and conservatives support both impeaching the president and the lawsuit against him. Republicans support impeachment by 57-42; they support the lawsuit by 75-22. Among conservatives those numbers are 56-44 and 64-33.

Meanwhile, majorities of moderates and independents overwhelmingly oppose both. Among moderates the numbers on impeachment are 26-72 and on the lawsuit they are 34-62. Among independents the numbers are 35-63 and 43-55.

This perhaps supports the Dem analysis that the lawsuit risks alienating moderates and independents in 2014. But the more important implications of these findings — should they be borne out in other polls — concern the coming battles over who will be to blame if Congress punts on responding to the border crisis and, beyond that, over Obama’s coming executive actions on deportations.

Failure to manage the crisis carries real risk for Obama, but Republicans are increasingly aware that they face serious peril in failing to act. In the longer term that could allow Obama to assume the position of the only problem solver in the room on immigration and persuade him he has more political space to maneuver on deportations.

As the CNN poll shows, GOP and conservative voters are overwhelmingly convinced of tyrannical Obama overreach and support any means necessary to block it. Thus, any Obama action this fall to ease deportations of people from the interior with lives here will demand a scorched earth response from GOP lawmakers — whose lawsuit will be underway — which would contrast sharply with their failure to do anything about the immediate crisis, should that happen.

Meanwhile, if the middle of the country doesn’t believe Obama is overreaching — 59 percent of moderates don’t believe this, though independents tilt slightly towards believing it — perhaps the mainstream will be prepared to accept it if Obama acts aggressively to solve the broader crisis on his own. Public openness to Obama action only becomes more likely if Republicans punt on the short term crisis. At the same time, Republicans will be boxing themselves into a position where the only immigration solutions they can accept are further militarization of the border, legal changes that put more kids at risk, and maximum deportations — even as their attacks on Obama’s problem-solving efforts as “tyranny” and “lawlessness” grow louder.

* HOUSE REPUBLICANS WORRIED ABOUT BORDER POLITICS: Reality begins to pierce the fog of GOP spin about the politics of the border crisis:

House Republicans are growing anxious about leaving town for the August recess without passing a border bill…rank-and-file lawmakers are openly fretting about the questions they would face from constituents if they break from legislative work without taking action to address the surge of child migrants into the United States.

Many argue that if they fail to pass a bill, even one that is a total non-starter with Democrats, they’ll give President Obama five weeks of open airtime to pound them as do-nothing obstructionists.

Both sides are at serious political risk, but the larger political context here is that Republicans have failed to act on broader immigration reform, because they can’t accept legalization of the 11 million under any circumstances, while Democrats have passed comprehensive reform that includes legalization.

* QUOTE OF THE DAY, GOP-DO-NOTHING-PARTY EDITION: Don’t take my word for it. Ask GOP Rep. Mike Conaway of Texas:

“I don’t want to face town-hall constituents without a Republican answer to some of the questions that reference this border issue.”

And presumably, “we should respond to the child migrant crisis by deporting all the DREAMers” isn’t a very good answer.

* A DEAL ON THE BORDER? David Rogers reports that there is room for a deal: Both parties appear willing to support an approach that compresses the funding that Obama has asked for into a period that stretches until the end of the year. But then: “This raises the question of whether temporary changes in immigration policy can be found to match the temporary relief in funding.”

This is the crux. Republicans want changes to the 2008 trafficking law; Dems fear they would strip legal rights from kids. The question is whether there are tweaks to the law would allow Republicans to claim they forced Obama to get tough on the border while reassuring Dems kids will be protected.

* OBAMA WEIGHS MOVES TO EASE DEPORTATIONS: Buried in a Politico piece on Obama’s looming decision on how far to go unilaterally to ease deportations is this:

The president has suggested privately that he would not go as far as extending temporary protections to all 11 million undocumented immigrants who would have qualified under the Senate bill. Instead, he’s weighing how to provide relief to subsets of the population based on family ties, longevity in the country or employment background. It’s unclear where he’ll draw the line, but advocates expect him to go far based on his initial statements that he wants to max out his legal authority.

Whatever Obama does propose will likely fall well short of what advocates are hoping for. Once again, let’s hope this decision is governed by what the White House decides are the proper legal, and not political, limits on his power.

* HOW FAR CAN OBAMA GO ON DEPORTATIONS? Time magazine has a good overview of all the options and the legal ins-and-outs of each. Here’s one:

One plausible option would be to expand DACA to include some family members of those already eligible. It’s hard to pin down how many people this would cover; it would depend on how the administration crafts the order. But the numbers are substantial. According to the CBO, there are an estimated 4.7 million undocumented parents with a minor child living in the U.S., and 3.8 million whose children are citizens. Around 1.5 million undocumented immigrants are married to a U.S. citizen or lawful resident, but have been unable to gain legal status themselves.

My guess is that this represents the absolute outer limit of what the White House is contemplating.

* BILL TO REIN IN NSA SURVEILLANCE MOVES FORWARD: Charlie Savage reports that Senator Patrick Leahy’s bill to rein in NSA surveillance appears to be close to introduction. It would dramatically limit the nature and scope of data collection and increase transparency as to the legal process governing it. The legislation appears to be the product of negotiations with the White House — remember, Obama had promised NSA reform, but it had fallen to Congress to actually get it done — which perhaps bodes well for its chances.

* CALIFORNIA NOT THE DISASTER CONSERVATIVES HOPED FOR: Paul Krugman today details the ways conservative predictions that liberal governance in California would prove a disaster haven’t panned out at all. Conservatives like to say that people are fleeing California (higher taxes, higher minimum wage, Obamacare) for Texas, but Krugman notes this is being driven by differences in house prices, and while job growth is faster in Texas, wages are also lower. Low regulation paradise!

What else?