July 31

* Today the House Republican leadership pulled its immigration bill when it realized it wouldn’t pass. Afterward, John Boehner issued a statement that included this:

This situation shows the intense concern within our conference – and among the American people – about the need to ensure the security of our borders and the president’s refusal to faithfully execute our laws.  There are numerous steps the president can and should be taking right now, without the need for congressional action, to secure our borders and ensure these children are returned swiftly and safely to their countries.

So, to catch you up: Yesterday, the House voted to sue President Obama for taking unilateral action without Congress’ permission. And today, Boehner is calling on President Obama to take unilateral action on immigration to address a crisis House Republicans refuse to address. Got that?

* Brian Beutler has a good roadmap of the treacherous politics ahead on Obama’s executive action to ease deportations, and the incentives that will influence how far he goes.

* Republicans are saying they’ll try again tomorrow to see if they can unite around a border crisis bill. It’s unclear how everyone’s calculations will change between now and then, but anything’s possible.

* After yet another humiliating defeat for Boehner at the hands of his own caucus, Steve Benen explains how he’s the Speaker in name only:

John Boehner’s Speakership is turning into something of a tragedy. How many times has he put together a bill, only to be betrayed by his own followers? A Democratic source on Capitol Hill recently sent around a brutal collection of bills Boehner asked his members to support, only to see his own House GOP conference reject his appeals: a grand bargain, a debt-ceiling bill in 2011, a payroll tax extension, a transportation bill, a farm bill, one fiscal-cliff bill, another fiscal-cliff bill, another farm bill, and then yesterday. I think my source might have even missed a couple, including the collapse of Boehner’s debt-ceiling bill in February 2014.

Even if Boehner is uniquely ineffectual, could anyone else do any better leading this caucus? I honestly have no idea.

* Nicholas Bagley has a great post that explains the problems with the Halig theory of Congressional intent by looking at the long-running argument between textualists and intentionalists:

The real fight is over what evidence of that intent ought to count. The challengers have one really good piece of evidence: the “established by the State” language, read in isolation, does support the view that Congress meant to restrict tax credits to state exchanges.

Everything else, to my mind, cuts against them. Congress repeatedly used the “exchange established by the State” language as shorthand for “exchange.” Adopting the challengers’ interpretation would make a dog’s breakfast of other provisions of the statute. If Congress wanted to threaten the states to coerce them into establishing exchanges, wouldn’t it have made that threat clear? And if the governing assumption was that states would be happy to establish exchanges, why would Congress have bothered to make such a threat?

Doesn’t he know that the only evidence that counts is whatever evidence supports the anti-Obamacare position, while all other evidence is irrelevant?

* The chart of the day, via Joe Sonka, demonstrates that in Kentucky, Obamacare is showing its most dramatic drop in uninsured rates in the eastern part of the state, which also happens to be the stronghold of the Senator who still thinks it’s a “disaster.” — gs

* The Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld the state voter ID law in two decisions today, but Rick Hasen found something remarkable in a footnote. The only cited evidence of voter fraud was one guy who committed 13 violations, was caught without the voter ID law, and wouldn’t have been stopped by the voter ID law. And he was a Scott Walker supporter.

* Jonathan Bernstein explains why the idea that Republicans have a lock on the House is a myth.

* Paul Ryan used to say we didn’t want the safety net to become a “hammock,” where lucky poor people lounge around drinking margaritas, living the high life on their $133 a month in food stamps. But in an interview with John Harwood, the new Ryan 2.0, the kinder, gentler version, ditches the hammock analogy:

“I think the hammock’s the wrong analogy. That’s wrong. What I worry about are government programs that actually disincentivize work…I think the government has been very counterproductive if the goal is to move a person from welfare to work….the federal government inadvertently has displaced a lot of good work at the local level. The government should respect its limits and man the supply lines, not be the front lines.”

In other words, it’s not that he’s worried government benefits are a hammock, it’s just that he worries that they’re a kind of netting thing strung loosely between two trees that you nap in.

* Jaime Fuller explains that rich, self-funded candidates actually lose most of the time.

* Over at the American Prospect, I look at how Republicans are using a Leninist “heighten the contradictions” strategy.

* And I feel (a little) bad about engaging in this kind of schadenfreude, but this is my favorite story of the day, on the swift death of “ReaganBook,” which sounds like a liberal parody of the alternative to Facebook conservatives would build, but is actually the alternative to Facebook conservatives built.