Late yesterday the news broke that House Speaker John Boehner had mocked his House Republican colleagues for inaction on immigration reform, mimicking them as follows: “Ohhhh. Don’t make me do this. Ohhhh. This is too hard.”
This morning, Boehner’s quotes are starting to get wide circulation. So it’s worth noting their real significance to the immigration debate: He has now effectively admitted that the real obstacle to solving the immigration problem is House Republicans.
This runs counter to the endlessly repeated claim that House Republicans won’t act only because they can’t trust Obama. Here’s video of Boehner:
Here’s a fuller transcript:
“We get elected to make choices. We get elected to solve problems and it’s remarkable to me how many of my colleagues just don’t want to…They’ll take the path of least resistance….I’ve had every brick and bat and arrow shot at me over this issue just because I wanted to deal with it. I didn’t say it was going to be easy.”
Boehner has laid bare the real crux of the issue here, undoing in one stroke what months and months of spin from Republicans was designed to obscure. Boehner has repeatedly said Republicans won’t act because Obama’s refusal to enforce the law proves he can’t be trusted to honor his end of any immigration compromise. But the first and most important question Republicans face is this: What set of terms and conditions will it take for Republicans to embrace some form of legal status for the 11 million?
Put another way, the dilemma House Republicans face is: Even if the Senate bill is unacceptable because #Obummer, is there any GOP solution to the problem of the 11 million — does there exist any reality-based package of enforcement and legal status — that can win the support of a sizable bloc of House Republicans? The Republican case has been that there is no percentage in even beginning to think about this question, because it will inevitably lead to negotiations with Dems over the final compromise, and that’s a non-starter, because #Obummer. But that’s simply an excuse designed to avoid dealing with the immediate policy conundrum Republicans face on legalization, which must be tackled before any movement of any kind can take place.
Boehner’s comments can be taken as an admission that this is the core issue here: Republicans don’t want to solve the basic policy problem we face, which will require accepting uncomfortable trade-offs, when doing nothing — allowing the status quo to fester — is politically easier. Remember, Boehner himself — in the House GOP leadership’s reform principles — articulates legal status for the 11 million as a core goal of any reform. But can Republicans get to Yes? Boehner is essentially admitting that this problem is an internal one that only they can resolve.
Now, if only there were someone in a position to compel House Republicans to make the hard choices necessary to tackle the problem that Boehner himself admits must be tackled.
* BOEHNER HIT FROM RIGHT ON IMMIGRATION: Meanwhile, right on cue, conservatives are hitting Boehner over his apostasy:
“It’s disappointing, but by now not surprising, that the Republican Speaker is attacking conservatives looking to retake the Senate,” Heritage Action CEO Michael A. Needham said in a statement.
Must not engage in bipartisan problem solving! You often hear Republicans argue that acting now will imperil GOP chances of taking the Senate, as if they have the luxury of acting next year. But for a number of reasons acting next year could be harder. Boehner’s latest comments suggest a clear awareness of this.
* NO, DEMS ARE NOT ALL RUNNING FROM OBAMACARE: Ashley Parker says the unsayable, with a good overview piece reporting that some Dems actually are running on the health care law, despite the robotic spin to the contrary from Republicans and many commentators. This is an interesting nugget:
So far, 76 percent of all Republican-sponsored general election spots in House and Senate races this year have attacked the Affordable Care Act, making the law the most mentioned issue in such ads, according to Kantar Media/CMAG, which tracks political advertising.
With Republicans committed to an all-Obummercare-all-the-time strategy, increasing evidence the law is on track is allowing Dems to more aggressively engage on the issue. Parker missed a key data point, though: Dems like Mary Landrieu and Gary Peters going hard at GOP opponents for opposing the Medicaid expansion in their states.
!* NO END TO THE DISSEMBLING ABOUT OBAMACARE: Obamacare can’t be working, because it just can’t work, period! Glenn Kessler gives Four Pinnochios to Tea Party Rep. Tim Huelskamp’s version of an oft-repeated GOP claim: The number of uninsured is actually going up, because of all of those cancellations. The broader story here is the absolute refusal among many Obamacare foes (see McConnell, Mitch) to acknowledge the very existence of the law’s beneficiaries — something that will continue getting harder and harder to sustain.
* REPUBLICANS RESIST MEDICAID EXPANSION IN VIRGINIA: The Post editorial board sums up the state of play in Virginia, where Republicans continue to hold out against accepting huge amounts of federal money to cover hundreds of thousands of their constituents, and Governor Terry McAuliff doesn’t appear to have a way of prodding them into it. Next up: Another government shutdown to prevent lots and lots of people getting health coverage for the first time.
* McCONNELL WILL CREATE JOBS BY REPEALING OBUMMERCARE: The latest skirmish in Kentucky continues as Alison Lundergan Grimes keeps hitting Mitch McConnell for reportedly saying it’s not his job to create jobs in the state, something McConnell adamantly denies. The Senator responds:
“Encouraging positive economic development and job growth is at the center of what I do every day. At the federal level I support policies to try to improve the economy as a whole which in turn will help preserve and create Kentucky’s jobs. These efforts include supporting an end to President Obama’s War on Coal and repealing job-killing Obamacare.”
Repealing Kentucky Kynect, which is widely seen as a success and has signed up over 400,000 people for health coverage, will create jobs?
* A GOP SHIFT ON OBAMACARE? The Wall Street Journal digs into the new GOP strategy, in which multiple Republican Senate candidates are attacking Harry Reid, the chief antagonist of the Koch brothers. This:
It marks a shift from Republicans’ heavy focus in recent months on trying to discredit the 2010 Affordable Care Act.
Put that in the we’ll-believe-it-when-we-see-it file, but a real shift is worth watching for.
* LATEST ON NORTH CAROLINA GOP SENATE PRIMARY: The Charlotte Observer reports that establishment favorite Thom Tillis, who enjoys the support of the Rove-founded Crossroads and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, heads into the home stretch with a three-to-one cash advantage over Tea Party rival Greg Brannon. The question is whether Tillis can emerge with 40 percent, or whether he’ll be forced into a head-to-head runoff, which could draw in the big outside conservative groups, with unpredictable results. We’ll know this very soon: The primary is a week from Tuesday.
* ELIZABETH WARREN, A FORCE IN 2016? Politico follows Elizabeth Warren on her book tour, and finds large number of people urging her to run for president:
Interviews with more than a dozen Warren supporters…showed that her message — the system is rigged against the little guy to the benefit of Wall St. and corporate America — is resonating, and any Democratic presidential hopeful will have to convince the Warren wing of the party that they get it. The conversations also revealed that enthusiasm for Warren often goes hand-in-hand with wariness of a President Hillary Clinton.
Warren won’t run, but the question is whether her influence will force 2016 Dem candidates to talk about her issues — inequality, wage stagnation, stalled economic mobility, the lack of Wall Street accountability — pushing the party to embrace a more comprehensive economic populism.