* House GOP leader Eric Cantor released a blistering statement today slamming President Obama for failing to work with House Republicans on immigration reform, insisting they will never, ever, ever be railroaded into supporting the Senate reform bill.
Let’s remember what’s really going on here. House Republican leaders are refusing to even offer, let alone vote on, their own proposals to do something about the 11 million, even though some rank and file Republicans, and some major GOP-aligned constituencies (the business community; agricultural and tech interests; evangelicals; the GOP consultant class) have been clamoring for reform for months or years. The Senate bill is utterly irrelevant to the basic question on the table: Is there any set of terms and conditions under which a sizable bloc of House Republicans can bring themselves to support some form of legalization?
We still don’t know the answer to that — after John Boehner released principles designed to put that question to the test, a massive backlash from within the caucus reportedly ensued, leading leaders to shelve reform. Indeed, Cantor’s diatribe looks like another way to deflect blame on to Obama for the GOP’s own inability to resolve internal conflicts over that core question, and by extension, over whether to act on reform at all. Oh, by the way: GOP Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart said today that if House Republicans don’t act on reform, Obama will have political cover to act alone. — gs
* Somebody working for New Mexico governor and rising GOP star Susana Martinez was disgruntled enough to give Mother Jones audio tapes of Martinez and her aides shooting the breeze:
Listening to recordings of Martinez talking with her aides is like watching an episode of HBO’s Veep, with over-the-top backroom banter full of pique, self-regard, and vindictiveness. As Martinez and her campaign staff rewatched a recent televised debate, Martinez referred to Denish, her opponent, as “that little bitch.”
* Ed Kilgore with a smart post on how Republicans use under-the-radar support for Personhood amendments to distinguish themselves from mainstream conservatives, something that should come to light in Senate races, given how many GOP candidates have supported it:
At a minimum, no candidate for Senate should be allowed to make it to November without clarifying their position on ‘personhood’ or abortion exceptions. As Todd Akin showed in 2012, the rationalizations offered for antichoice positions are often highly illuminating.
* Meanwhile, a federal judge struck down the strictest abortion ban in the nation, saying North Dakota’s ban on abortions after 6 weeks of pregnancy was unconstitutional.
* A great moment at a town hall meeting: Republican Florida congressman Dennis Ross was questioned by a constituent who has been making minimum wage at Arby’s for ten years. When asked if he’d support increasing the minimum wage, Ross said, “If we are going to make it a living wage, who’s going to pay for it? Who’s going to pay for it?”
An audience member shouted, “I will. I’ll pay 20 cents extra for a hamburger.” Ross, surprisingly, was unconvinced.
* Sen. Elizabeth Warren has a book coming out, and according to what the Boston Globe has seen, she’s pretty candid about conversations with Obama. He didn’t appoint her to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau because of the objections of Republicans and bankers. “You make them very nervous,” he told her.
And of course, when you’re wondering how best to protect consumers, the opinions of Republicans and bankers should be paramount.
* Relatedly, the AFL-CIO’s Richard Trumka argues that Elizabeth Warren would be a model presidential candidate, another reminder that, whether or not she runs, there is a strain within the Democratic Party that 2016 candidates will likely have to address. — gs
* A terrific piece by David Dayen arguing that if Democrats are outraged about GOP governors holding out against the Medicaid expansion in dozens of states, they’re just going to have to go on offense, and win. — gs
* Alec MacGillis makes an important point about Michael Bloomberg’s new gun safety push, noting that the first order of business for 2014 should be protecting vulnerable Senators who took a big risk to support his cause. Mary Landrieu and Kay Hagan, you may recall, voted for expanded background checks, and they could probably use a bit of help right about now.
More from MacGillis: “if one or both of them fall, you can be sure that the NRA will be claiming the credit, regardless of how much guns figured in the mix.”
* The New York Times has a long look at how President Obama came around on marriage equality, including the surprising role played by Republican strategist and 2004 Bush reelection campaign manager Ken Mehlman.
* Steve Benen: Don’t be fooled by reports saying that Democratic-leaning groups have a money advantage at this stage of the 2014 campaign. The reason? Two words: Koch brothers.
*And at the American Prospect, I take conservatives to task for supporting Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher who thinks that because “I don’t recognize the government of the United States as even existing,” he can just break whatever law he wants.
Yes, one prominent conservative writer actually compared this fellow to Gandhi.