As the political war over minors crossing the border continues to escalate, Texas Governor Rick Perry met with President Obama yesterday and demanded that he beef up border patrols and seek changes to federal law that would expedite the removal of arriving minors. For his part, Obama prodded Perry to rally Congressional Republicans to pass the $3.7 billion in funding to expedite removals and provide care the president has asked for.
In a good piece, Amie Parnes of the Hill observes that Perry “has seized the spotlight in recent days to become the national face of opposition to President Obama’s immigration policies.” But what does this mean, exactly? Parnes helpfully supplies these very revealing quotes from Perry allies:
“This gives Gov. Perry an opportunity to take very legitimate and timely shots at the White House and the president’s failed leadership and philosophy to tout his expertise in border security and get to the heart of the immigration issue,” said Raymond Sullivan, a former adviser to Perry.
“I think it positions himself as someone who is fighting the president,” added Matt Mackowiak, a GOP strategist based in Austin, Texas. “That’s what Republicans want, and more importantly, what Republican voters want.”
“He really had the president on defense,” Mackowiak continued. “I think he outflanked him strategically.”
There may be something to the idea that Obama is on defense, in the sense that the press is far more focused on the question of why the President won’t visit the border than it is on why Republicans won’t fund the expedited removals they themselves say they want. At the same time, though, a larger truth is captured by the notion that the national face of the GOP opposition on immigration is scoring because he’s getting in “timely shots” on Obama, which is “what Republican voters want.”
The question is whether that’s a sustainable posture. How do Republicans continue decrying the crisis while denying the funding to address it, without revealing that they are wholly uninterested in participating in basic problem solving? Jackie Calmes and Ashley Parker offer a pitch-perfect explanation of why this creates a conundrum for Republicans:
Congressional Republicans are left with a dilemma. Their goals are to increase the federal presence on the border and address what they agree is a humanitarian crisis, but they do not want to accomplish them by giving Mr. Obama $3.7 billion that would help get him out of a situation that they believe is of his own making.
Well, there you have it. Republicans don’t want to provide the funding for the expedited removals they say they want because it would “help” Obama “get out” of a political “situation,” never mind whether it would help solve the problem.
This brings us back to Rick Perry. This morning, he compared Obama’s decision not to visit the border with George W. Bush’s handling of Katrina, which is where Republicans want the focus to remain. At some point, though, the national face of GOP opposition to Obama’s immigration policies just may come out and help secure approval for the funding Obama wants.
Indeed, as the First Read crew notes this morning, there are already signs that House GOP resistance to approving this funding are cracking, and this gets at the broader dilemma Republicans face here: “If Congress is going to criticize the administration’s executive actions, then doesn’t it need to start legislating when there is a public-policy problem?” Good question. We’ll see how long Republicans can get away with “OBUMMER!!!” as their catch-all answer to it.
* WHY KIDS ARE FLEEING CENTRAL AMERICA: The New York Times has a terrific piece reporting out how violence in home countries is helping cause the migration of minors, with vivid description of gang killings of kids as a key cause:
The killings are a major factor driving the recent wave of migration of Central American children to the United States, which has sent an unprecedented number of unaccompanied minors across the Texas border. Many children and parents say the rush of new migrants stems from a belief that United States immigration policy offers preferential treatment to minors, but in addition, studies of Border Patrol statistics show a strong correlation between cities like San Pedro Sula with high homicide rates and swarms of youngsters taking off for the United States.
This is where Obama really should be criticized for his handling of this: If the process of expedited removals denies children adequate legal representation, for instance. The ACLU is suing the administration to improve representation.
* NEW REPORT DEALS ANOTHER BLOW TO OBAMACARE CRITICS: Jonathan Cohn brings us the findings of a new Commonwealth Fund report that provides still more data undermining the case against the law by showing it is helping substantial numbers of people, despite claims otherwise:
According to the survey, the proportion of working aged adults without insurance droped from 20 percent in the late summer of 2013 to 15 percent in the late spring of 2014, a period that corresponds roughly to the beginning and end of open enrollment in the Affordable Care Act’s marketplaces. To put that in more concrete terms, there are still a lot of Americans walking around without health insurance today. But there are about 9.5 million fewer of them than there were last fall.
Add this to the multiple other surveys suggesting the same, and all this suggests the law is on track to do what it was supposed to do. Perhaps this helps explain why it has mostly vanished from the political conversation.
* SHAHEEN OPENS COMFORTABLE LEAD OVER SCOTT BROWN: A new WMUR Granite State poll finds that Senator Jeanne Shaheen now leads challenger Scott Brown and his pickup truck by 12 points, 50-38. Shaheen’s job approval is 57 percent, while Brown’s favorability ratings are under water at 31-40. The average of polls finds Shaheen leading by nearly nine points.
Remember, the entire rationale for Brown’s candidacy is that Obummercare sucks. How much cash has Americans for Prosperity lit on fire on anti-Obamacare ads in New Hampshire at this point?
* BATTLE FOR SENATE WILL COME DOWN TO WIRE: Nate Cohn has a good piece raising questions about how reliable the polling and modeling is on the contested Senate races, with this conclusion:
This year’s fight for control of the Senate could easily prove to be closer than the 2012 presidential election or the 2010 and 2012 national Senate contests, which were all decided by the margin of several states. If the fight for Senate control remains as close as it is today, even the typical modest errors of the last few cycles could easily lead the aggregators and models to miss on the overall control of the Senate.
Cohn notes that Mark Pryor probably has a slight lead in Arkansas, and that Mark Udall probably has a bigger edge in Colorado than the polls suggest. The latter will offer some clues as to whether Republicans are meaningfully broadening the map beyond the core red state battlegrounds.
* WALL STREET JOURNAL WARNS GOP ON IMPEACHMENT: The Journal editorial board warns the GOP against following Sarah Palin and “the impeachment delusion,” and the bit targeting John Boehner is the most interesting:
On Wednesday House Speaker John Boehner said “I disagree” with Mrs. Palin, though as usual without elaboration. What he might add is that the Constitution says a President can be impeached for “Treason, Bribery or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” Bill Clinton lied under oath and Richard Nixon obstructed justice. While Mr. Obama’s abuses of executive power are serious, they don’t rise to that level.
You may see more and more GOP establishment types call on the Speaker to shut down the impeachment talk once and for all.
* HARRY REID UNLOADS ON GOP: E.J. Dionne has an interesting interview with Harry Reid, including this:
“It irritates me so much when people say, ‘Why don’t they just work together?’ ” Reid says. What this overlooks, he argues, is that “the Republicans made a decision . . . to oppose everything Obama wants.” It’s in the GOP’s interest to keep things from happening because it plays into a simple narrative that Reid described this way: “Democrats control the Senate. We have a Democrat in the White House. Why can’t you get things done?”
By the way, the reporting that we have strongly suggests there was such a decision early on.