* Eric Cantor tells National Review’s Robert Costa that conservatives pushing for a stand on defunding Obamacare should forget about it:
“In order to avoid a government shutdown, we need 60 votes in the Senate and 218 votes in the House to pass a continuing resolution,” he explained. “To get 60 votes in the Senate, you need at least 14 Democrats to join Republicans and pass a CR that defunds Obamacare. Right now, I am not aware of a single Democrat in the Senate who would join us. If and when defunding has 60 votes in the Senate, we will absolutely deliver more than 218 votes in the House.”
As far as I know, that is the most definitive thumbs-down any GOP leader has given to the defund-Obamacare push thus far.
* Ezra Klein comments on Cantor’s nixing of a defund-Obamacare confrontation:
This could be the best of all possible worlds for Cruz, Mike Lee, Marco Rubio et al. They get the credit with conservatives for being willing to shut down the government to defund Obamacare but it never actually happens, and so they never have to take the blame for the consequences.
This whole thing has always been a con.
* Obama embraced NSA reform today, but Senator Ron Wyden, who has prodded the administration hard on this issue, explains why the president continues to fall short.
As noted earlier today, it seems unlikely that we’re going to see reform of what scope of data can be collected, as opposed to more limited reforms in the areas of what can be done with it and how to increase transparency over the programs’ legal rationale.
* Relatedly, a good point from Joshua Foust: The real NSA scandal is Congress.
* Speaking of Obama’s presser, this was the other key moment:
“The one unifying principle in the Republican Party at the moment is making sure that 30 million people don’t have health care,” he said. “It’s just become an ideological fixation.”
It’s good to see this cast in stark terms as a battle between the side that wants to expand coverage to the uninsured, and the side that wants the opposite.
* This from Obama on immigration reform is also noteworthy:
“I am absolutely confident that if that bill was on the floor of the House, it would pass. The challenge right now is not that there aren’t a majority of House members, just like a majority of Senate members, who [are] prepared to support this bill, the problem is internal Republican caucus politics.”
It is true that there is almost certainly a majority in the House for the Senate bill. Have I mentioned that immigration reform can pass if GOP leaders want it to?
* Andrew Rosenthal offers some analysis and deconstruction of Harry Reid’s latest:
“It’s been obvious that they’re doing everything they can to make him fail,” Mr. Reid said in an interview on KNPR Radio. “And I hope, I hope — and I say this seriously — I hope that’s based on substance and not the fact that he’s African American.”
* Nice riff by Francis Wilkinson on the GOP’s practice of “massive resistance” and its guerrilla campaign to “sabotage the oppressor,” and what that portends for the deepening polarization of our politics.
* Steve Benen: If majorities continue to think the “scandals” are serious (that’s what Fox polling tells us, anyway), perhaps it’s because the press didn’t report nearly as much on them when they fell apart.
* Jonathan Bernstein continues to get it right on the Kabuki dance that could — repeat, could — ultimately result in the House passing immigration reform.
* Michael Cohen with an important reminder: For all the terror threats and military budget bloat, the U.S. is actually pretty safe.
* And here’s what we know so far about that alternative to Obamacare House Republicans will supposedly roll out this far: It won’t have the “taxes and mandates” in the Affordable Care Act, but it will have protections for people with preexisting conditions.
In other words: It will getting rid of the hard stuff, and keep the popular stuff, but no further details are available. Looking forward to seeing the magic formula!