Wonkbook: Game change? Hannity, Murdoch and Boehner come out for immigration reform

November 9, 2012

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Top story: Hannity, Murdoch and Boehner come out for immigration reform

Will high Latino voter turnout lead to immigration policy changes?  "Latino voters who turned out to the polls in unprecedented numbers on Election Day and helped propel President Obama to a second term are calling his reelection a victory -- and a starting point for more permanent solutions to the nation’s immigration policies." Candace Wheeler in The Washington Post.

@DKThomp: Is new CW that yesterday's Latino wipe-out could push Republicans to engage with immigration reform?

Boehner is 'confident' of a deal on immigration. "Fresh off an election in which Hispanic voters largely sided with Democrats, Speaker John A. Boehner said Thursday that he was 'confident' Congress and the White House could come up with a comprehensive immigration solution. Immigration reform is 'an important issue that I think ought to be dealt with,' Mr. Boehner, an Ohio Republican, said in an interview with Diane Sawyer on 'ABC World News.' 'This issue has been around far too long,' he said, 'and while I believe it’s important for us to secure our borders and to enforce our laws, I think a comprehensive approach is long overdue, and I’m confident that the president, myself, others, can find the common ground to take care of this issue once and for all.'" Jennifer Steinhauer in The New York Times.

@jonathanweisman: I watched immigration bills die in Senate twice under a hail of verbal gunfire from conservative talk radio. Will talkers follo Hannity?

And Sean Hannity said he's changed his mind on immigration. "Fox News’ Sean Hannity told his radio listeners Thursday that he’s 'evolved' on immigration and thinks undocumented immigrants without criminal records should have a 'pathway to citizenship.' Noting that Hispanic voters overwhelmingly backed President Obama in Tuesday’s election (as the white vote declined), Hannity said that the Republican party could only compete for Latino voters if they took immigration off the table...Hannity is a pundit, not a politician, but for such a high-profile conservative it’s a notable shift. A pathway to citizenship for all law-abiding undocumented immigrants goes beyond the DREAM Act opposed by most Republicans." Rachel Weiner in The Washington Post.

@rupertmurdoch: Must have sweeping, generous immigration reform,make existing law- abiding Hispanics welcome. Most are hard working family people.

Demographics are partially to blame for the Republicans' major disadvantage in the Electoral College. "The problem for Republicans is that in [red states], and others like Tennessee, Kentucky and Arkansas, they are now winning by such large margins there that their vote is distributed inefficiently in terms of the Electoral College...By contrast, a large number of electorally critical states -- both traditional swing states like Iowa and Pennsylvania and newer ones like Colorado and Nevada -- have been Democratic-leaning in the past two elections...The Republican Party will have four years to adapt to the new reality. Republican gains among Hispanic voters could push Colorado and Nevada back toward the tipping point, for example." Nate Silver in The New York Times.

@MattZeitlin: Kudlow is literally screaming about immigration reform, "there will be no deportation! we can do this assimilation thing!"

BLOOMBERG VIEW: Immigration reform is inevitable. "Having helped power President Barack Obama to victory over Mitt Romney, Hispanic voters are suddenly the 'it' demographic in U.S. politics...[W]e doubt many Republicans are still in denial about the demographic hole they’ve dug for themselves. The question is, what will they do about it. Obama has every incentive to pursue comprehensive immigration reform to provide pathways to legal status and citizenship for the nation’s roughly 11 million illegal immigrants. He has campaigned for it, and a crucial constituency demands it...[Republicans] can join the White House in shaping immigration reform, all the while knowing that the president will get the lion’s share of credit...If Republicans again oppose immigration reform, they risk cementing their reputation as obstructionists and, in the process, tightening the Democrats’ hold on a large and rapidly growing constituency. This is tantamount to political surrender, if not suicide." Bloomberg View Editorial Board.

@davidfrum: Upper class TV commentators think that only change GOP needs is on immigration. Of course, they all have health insurance.

Top op-eds

GERSON: Republicans need to rediscover Edmund Burke. "As a matter of strategy, it is generally not a good idea to express disdain for an electorate one hopes to eventually influence. In this case, despair is also an overreaction. Conservatives have not witnessed the sacking of Rome. They have seen the disappointment of their expectation that the 2010 Republican wave election was an inexorable trend. They have seen politically unfavorable demographic changes — which everyone knew were coming sooner or later — come sooner. They have seen younger voters grow more libertarian on some social issues. These changes call for another, more hopeful conservative tradition: that of Edmund Burke." Michael Gerson in The Washington Post.

WEST: We need to build a bridge over the 'fiscal cliff.' "There is a large battle to be had over broader deficit reduction, but that is not the immediate issue facing Washington on Jan. 1. No one thinks the deficit will be solved in the lame- duck period: Avoiding the fiscal cliff means simply finding a way to delay the problem this year without surrendering negotiating leverage for the larger fight next year...[A]voiding the fiscal cliff requires only “building a bridge” to the new year. Both sides have clear incentives to avoid a disaster for which both parties would be blamed. Neither side has a better alternative...Both men want to avoid disaster before the year’s end and earn some credit for a landmark deal in 2013. The only way to do that is to avoid the immediate cliff by building a bridge. This will require a president who will never again face the judgment of voters to move off his pledge to veto across-the- board tax cuts at year’s end. It will require Republicans to provide Obama political cover to do so by agreeing to some smaller down payment now." Sean West in Bloomberg.

KLEIN: Don't blame Romney's message. "[A] campaign’s message isn’t some free-floating concept unmoored from reality or strategic thinking. Messages are tied down by circumstance. And the attacks on Mitt Romney’s messaging forget why he adopted the message he ultimately did....Ultimately, Romney’s message was constrained by the promises he’d made and constituencies he courted during the primary...Blaming Romney’s message is, in other words, another way of saying the substantive and coalitional commitments of the modern Republican Party need to be rethought. But that’s not typically what people mean when they blame Romney’s message. Instead, they mean that Romney just didn’t articulate the Republican Party’s substantive and coalitional commitments strongly or clearly or forcefully enough. If that convenient interpretation ends up the dominant one, it will be a disaster for the Republican Party." Ezra Klein in The Washington Post.

BROOKS: Republicans must become 'the party of work.' "During the 2012 campaign, Republicans kept circling back to the spot where government expansion threatens personal initiative...These economic values played well in places with a lot of Protestant dissenters and their cultural heirs...But, each year, there are more Americans whose cultural roots lie elsewhere...The Pew Research Center does excellent research on Asian-American and Hispanic values. Two findings jump out. First, people in these groups have an awesome commitment to work. By most measures, members of these groups value industriousness more than whites. Second, they are also tremendously appreciative of government. In survey after survey, they embrace the idea that some government programs can incite hard work, not undermine it; enhance opportunity, not crush it." David Brooks in The New York Times.

@DouthatNYT: Acela corridor narrative will emphasize immigration/Akin/etc. But macro-reality is that the GOP doesn't have a winning economic message.

KRUGMAN: Let's not make a 'fiscal cliff' deal. "President Obama has to make a decision, almost immediately, about how to deal with continuing Republican obstruction. How far should he go in accommodating the G.O.P.’s demands? My answer is, not far at all. Mr. Obama should hang tough, declaring himself willing, if necessary, to hold his ground even at the cost of letting his opponents inflict damage on a still-shaky economy. And this is definitely no time to negotiate a 'grand bargain' on the budget that snatches defeat from the jaws of victory." Paul Krugman in The New York Times.

@mattyglesias: Upside to insane “fiscal cliff” freakout is the definitive proof that even deficit scolds don’t actually favor lower deficits.

Top long reads

Adam Nagourney, Ashley Parker, Jim Rutenberg, and Jeff Zeleny explain how a narrow race swung towards Obama: "The Oct. 3 debate sharply exposed Mr. Obama’s vulnerabilities and forced the president and his advisers to work to reclaim the campaign over a grueling 30 days, ending with his triumph on Tuesday. After a summer of growing confidence, Mr. Obama suddenly confronted the possibility of a loss that would diminish his legacy and threaten his signature achievement, the health care law. He emerged newly combative, newly contrite and newly willing to recognize how his disdain for Mr. Romney had blinded him to his opponent’s strengths and ability to inflict damage."

...And Sara Murray and John O'Connor show how the race slipped away from Romney: "Mitt Romney is one of the wealthiest men ever to run for president. And yet the lack of money earlier this year stalled his campaign, and he never really recovered...Mr. Romney had spent so much money winning the nomination that he was low on cash; aides, seeing the problem taking shape, had once considered accepting federal financing for the campaign rather than rely on private donations...Mr. Romney's heavy wooing of conservative donors limited his ability to move his campaign positions to the center, to appeal to moderate and independent donors. The search for cash led him to a Florida mansion for a private fundraiser where Mr. Romney would make the deeply damaging, secretly recorded remarks where he disparaged and dismissed the 47% of Americans who don't pay taxes."

Transporation nation interlude: Cool data map of the NYC subway going back online after Sandy.

Got tips, additions, or comments? E-mail me.

Still to come: housing policy in focus; the medical loss ratio and why it matters; fiscal cliff watch continues; the death and all of ethanol; and the 'white people mourning Romney' Tumblr meme.

Fiscal Cliff

READ: The CBO's new fiscal cliff estimates. Here they are in one graph.

Debt ceiling + fiscal cliff = even bigger problem. "Come January, should Congress fail to act, the United States will face more than immense tax increases and spending cuts. It will also run out of room to finance its large running deficits. The Treasury Department expects the country to hit its debt ceiling, a legal limit on the amount the government is allowed to borrow, close to the end of the year...[B]oth parties view lifting the debt ceiling as part of the fiscal-cliff negotiations, and they do not expect Congress to raise it outside of a broader deal." Annie Lowrey in The New York Times.

Interview: GOP Sen. Chambliss: ‘You could see riots in the streets of the United States if we don’t do this right’.

CBO: Fiscal cliff will mean recession, rise in unemployment. "The Congressional Budget Office offered a sobering assessment of the economic implications of plunging off the fiscal cliff Thursday, just as lawmakers prepare for a fight over taxes and spending. If Congress and the Obama administration allow scheduled tax increases and spending cuts to occur, the economy will shrink by 0.5 percent in 2013. The unemployment rate would soar to 9.1 percent — up from 7.9 percent today." Steven Sloan in Politico.

@greg_ip: Rick Santelli: the further the Dow drops, the faster the fiscal cliff gets fixed. can't disagree.

The GOP's commitments against higher taxes will be a big, big problem. "The new conciliatory tone among House Republican leaders this week will soon have to confront an old Washington reality: the GOP’s deep opposition to higher tax rates...Somewhat chastened by Tuesday’s defeats in the presidential and Senate races, House Republicans said they are willing to work with President Obama on a deal that would include more tax revenue. But they continue to oppose any deal that would involve higher tax rates." Paul Kane and David A. Fahrenthold in The Washington Post.

@jodikantor: What role does Paul Ryan play in fiscal cliff debate, given that he embodies ideas that were rejected? Does he soften on tax/revenue?

Economy

Trade deficit narrows as exports rise. "The United States trade deficit unexpectedly narrowed in September as exports rose sharply, suggesting global demand for American goods was holding up despite the sovereign debt crisis in Europe. Other data released on Thursday showed a drop in new claims for unemployment benefits last week, although a storm that battered the East Coast distorted the figures...Exports jumped 3.1 percent, the biggest increase in over a year...Initial claims for state jobless benefits dropped 8,000 to a seasonally adjusted 355,000, the Labor Department said. That was below the median forecast of 370,000 in a Reuters poll of economists...The four-week moving average for jobless claims, which smooths out volatility, rose 3,250 to 370,500. Economists think readings below 400,000 generally point to rising employment."Reuters.

@grossdm: Break up america. Macroeconomic advisers crunches trade data, says u.s. economy grew at 2.9 percent rate in third quarter

Just when you thought the euro crisis was subsiding... "We’ve been so caught up in the U.S. elections over the past month that we’ve forgotten to check up on the never-ending debt crisis in Europe. But there have been a couple of worrisome developments that seem to be rattling financial markets this week...The European economy is likely grinding through yet another recession. Its GDP shrunk 0.2 percent in the second quarter of the year, and the third-quarter numbers are expected to be weak...Spain is still a mess too, as its having trouble shrinking its deficits -- tax hikes and spending cuts keep hurting growth, and unemployment is expected to increase to 27 percent next year." Brad Plumer in The Washington Post.

@Reddy: The euro zone, in return for not threatening economic suicide as much, gets called the new version of 1990s-era Japan

Housing policy, a second-term headache. "With the market in shambles in 2009, the Obama administration pursued a tentative housing policy, for the most part avoiding big moves that might have further weakened the housing market or banks. Eventually, there were some bolder initiatives, like the national mortgage settlement with big banks as well as the Treasury Department’s aid programs for homeowners. But as President Obama’s first administration comes to an end, the government is still deeply embedded in the mortgage market...Housing policy is hard to tackle because so many people have benefited from the status quo...In other words, the best person to fundamentally change how housing works may be a president who won’t be running for office again. Most immediately, the housing market has to be strong enough to deal with a government pullback. " Peter Eavis in The New York Times.

Chart interlude: Another polarizing election, illustrated.

Health Care

States scramble on health law after election. "States face a Nov. 16 deadline to inform Health and Human Services whether they will create a health insurance exchange, the new marketplace that each state will have in 2014. 'The folks who need to re-strategize at this point are going to be the Republican governors, for the most part,' said Cheryl Smith, a director at Leavitt Partners, the health consulting firm founded by former Health and Human Services secretary Michael Leavitt. 'They can’t just say no anymore. They have to accept that the Supreme Court ruling was what it was and that the status quo is not sustainable.' They have three choices. States can run their own insurance marketplace, using federal funding to set up the technology to allow consumers to compare and purchase health plans. They can leave the task to the federal government. Or, they can do something in between: A 'partnership' model allows state and federal governments to divvy up the responsibilities." Sarah Kliff in The Washington Post.

Republicans now accept Obamacare as 'law of the land.' "Boehner’s office quickly tried to walk back his comments within minutes after ABC News posted a story on the interview...In a way, Boehner was just acknowledging the obvious: With President Barack Obama back in the White House for another four years, and the Senate still firmly in Democratic hands, a full repeal of the health care law is out of the question. Targeted repeal of unpopular parts of the law -- or efforts to scale back some parts -- might be a different story...[But] Boehner may have gone further to acknowledge a painful truth than many Republicans really would have liked. David Nather in Politico.

CBO: Federal healthcare costs are growing. "Healthcare programs are quickly outgrowing their historical share of the federal budget, CBO said, and the cost of those programs will only grow faster as more Baby Boomers reach retirement and underlying healthcare costs continue to soar...Federal spending on major healthcare programs will reach 6.3 percent of gross domestic product by 2020, CBO said -- up from 4.7 percent this year, and far outstripping a 40-year average of just 2.7 percent." Sam Baker in The Hill.

GOP bill revising health law ratio will add to deficit. "A Republican bill altering the healthcare law's medical loss ratio (MLR) will add about $1 billion to the budget deficit over the next decade, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said Thursday. The Obama administration frequently touts the MLR as a policy that helps consumers. It mandates that insurers spend no less than about 80 percent of their premium dollars on medical care rather than administrative costs or profits. The difference insurance companies must send back to policyholders, producing more than $1 billion in consumer rebates this year." Elise Viebeck in The Hill.

Domestic Policy

Boring but important: Changes to aviation safety policies. "Federal aviation regulators announced a pioneering agreement to share summaries of confidential air-safety data with government accident investigators...[T]he Federal Aviation Administration [will] give the National Transportation Safety Board access to information distilled from a wide range of government and industry databases, including voluntary incident reports. Such data traditionally has been strictly off limits for the NTSB...The move helps expand the NTSB’s role as an air-safety watchdog" Andy Pasztor in The Wall Street Journal.

Bill to force cost-benefit analysis of new regulations faces opposition. "A battle is brewing in the Senate over a measure that would force independent agencies to more fully consider the costs of new regulations, a plan that critics say is designed to derail key federal initiatives...Under the legislation, the president can issue an executive order that would force independent agencies to do additional cost-benefit analyses before finalizing 'significant' rules — basically, those with more than a $100 million annual effect on the economy. The measure would also subject those rules to review by a unit within the White House called the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, or OIRA." Dina ElBoghdady in The Washington Post.

Wonkblog explains: How redistricting could keep the House red for a decade.

'We have to fix that' -- voting irregularities -- but will we? "Election Day saw news story after news story about interminable lines at polling stations. In some areas, people waited for two hours, three hours or more. To many observers, it seemed ludicrous that a country as advanced and as wealthy as the United States can’t figure out how to hold a decent election. So what was the problem? Why do long lines persist? And is there anything Obama and Congress can do to make our voting system more efficient?" Brad Plumer in The Washington Post.

Debate: Is the voting system fine as it is, or are there ways to make it more reliable and inclusive?.

Hysterical interlude: The 'white people mourning Romney' Tumblr meme.

Energy

U.S. oil production boom is leading to less foreign oil. "The U.S. trade gap narrowed by $2.3 billion in September, to $41.5 billion, the Commerce Department said Thursday. Oil accounted for more than three quarters of the change, with a $2.2 billion surge in oil exports easily offsetting a small increase in imports...[T]he longer-run trend is unmistakable: The U.S. is importing less oil and exporting more...The U.S. spent $32.8 billion on oil imports in September and sold $11.2 billion in oil -- virtually all of it in the form of gasoline, diesel and other so-called petroleum products -- to customers in other countries, for a trade deficit of $21.7 billion. A year ago, that deficit stood at $26.3 billion. Adjusting for inflation, the deficit has shrunk by nearly 40% over the past five years." Ben Casselman in The Wall Street Journal.

The death and fall of ethanol? "U.S. ethanol production is headed for the first decline in 16 years, jeopardizing the nation’s drive to boost alternative fuels, as higher costs and lower demand close plants. Shrinking distilling margins have resulted in a 14 percent drop in output this year to 827,000 barrels a day, or 12.7 billion gallons annually, Energy Department data show, 500 million gallons short of the amount refiners are mandated to use under a 2007 law that calls for escalating consumption of the biofuel." Mario Parker in Bloombebrg.

Obama may levy a carbon tax, says HSBC. "Barack Obama may consider introducing a tax on carbon emissions to help cut the U.S. budget deficit after winning a second term as president, according to HSBC Holdings Plc. A tax starting at $20 a metric ton of carbon dioxide equivalent and rising at about 6 percent a year could raise $154 billion by 2021, Nick Robins, an analyst at the bank in London, said today in an e-mailed research note, citing Congressional Research Service estimates..." Matthew Carr in Bloomberg.

Warmer still: Extreme climate predictions appear most accurate, report says. "Climate scientists agree the Earth will be hotter by the end of the century, but their simulations don’t agree on how much. Now a study suggests the gloomier predictions may be closer to the mark...That means the world could be in for a devastating increase of about eight degrees Fahrenheit by 2100, resulting in drastically higher seas, disappearing coastlines and more severe droughts, floods and other destructive weather." Brian Vastag in The Washington Post.

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