Whatever President Obama announces when it comes to executive action to ease deportations, Republicans will claim he is basically shredding the Constitution into kindling to light a fire under the Dem base in advance of the 2014 elections. But what if the White House can build a coalition behind coming actions that would allow Dems to portray them as an effort to solve problems for multiple constituencies, including GOP-aligned ones?
The other day, I reported that Dems were eying the possibility of enlisting business, agricultural, and tech interests who might want changes to the visa system as part of whatever Obama proposes. These changes could be accomplished administratively, along with action on deportations.
Earlier this month, senior aides from the White House counsel’s office, office of public engagement and the office of science and technology policy, among others, huddled with more than a dozen business groups and company officials to discuss potential immigration policy changes they could make. Smaller meetings with the White House and Department of Homeland Security aides have continued throughout the month. Administration officials are expected to present Obama with recommendations by the end of August.
Representatives from Oracle, Cisco, Fwd.US, Microsoft, Accenture, Compete America and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce were among those present at a wide-ranging Aug. 1 session that went through a list of asks for the tech sector that would involve rulemaking….
The ideas under discussion for executive action include allowing spouses of workers with high-tech visas to work, recapturing green cards that go unused and making technical changes for dual-purpose visa applications. Agriculture industry representatives have also been included in the meetings, discussing tweaks in the existing agriculture worker program. The administration is also considering provisions for low-skilled workers for industries, like construction, that would allow individuals with temporary work authorization to gain work permits.
These talks may merely represent “listening sessions,” as opposed to serious efforts to develop a real menu of changes and build a coalition behind them. The White House may very well decide such a move is impractical.
But it’s being discussed. And as people who hope for such an effort have told me, this could shift the political battle: Rather than making this only about helping illegal immigrants, it would become about fixing our broken immigration system for the good of business and the economy. Dems could argue Obama’s executive action is the result of a House GOP that is so in the grip of extreme elements within the party that it was unable to act on a problem even center-right constituencies want solved.
“The best case scenario would be to have Steve King and Louis Gohmert calling for impeachment, while voices on the constructive center right are saying this is the right thing to do for the economy,” one source tells me.
Of course, there’s also good reason for skepticism that this will come together. It would require GOP-aligned groups such as the business community and agricultural interests to align themselves with Obummer Lawlessness and against Republicans. And remember, groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have long talked a good game about immigration but ultimately have backed Republican candidates who are hostile to reform, presumably because the GOP is good on other priorities that are more important to them, such as low taxes and minimal regulations. Either way, the “constructive center right” bears watching here.
* THE ROOTS OF RACIAL TENSIONS IN FERGUSON: Don’t miss the New York Times’ deep dive into the historical roots and causes of the racial tensions now exploding in Ferguson, Missouri. The patten is a familiar one: As the piece notes, a combination of municipal policy and white flight have left behind a largely black population governed by a “white power structure.”
Another one of the culprits has been horribly low turnout in recent elections. As one local official puts it, blacks have not been engaged enough in local politics: “I’m hoping that this is what it takes to get the pendulum to swing the other way.”
* MICHAEL BROWN SHOT AT LEAST SIX TIMES: Michael Brown’s family has commissioned an autopsy that found he
was shot at least six times, including twice in the head, a preliminary private autopsy performed on Sunday found. One of the bullets entered the top of Mr. Brown’s skull, suggesting his head was bent forward when it struck him and caused a fatal injury.
The Justice Department has announced that it is conducting its own autopsy, “as soon as possible,” but will take the state autopsy into account in reaching a determination.
* COUNTRY EVOLVING RAPIDLY ON GAY MARRIAGE: A new McClatchy-Marist poll contains a striking finding: A majority of registered voters, 51 percent, says the gay marriage question should be decided by federal law, versus 44 percent who say it should be left to the states. This mirrors recent Post polling finding that 50 percent believe the Constitution protects the right to marry.
All this may make it more likely that the Supreme Court could soon uphold a Constitutionally protected marriage right, because it suggests such a decision wouldn’t be met with any backlash.
* TILLIS ON THE AIR IN NORTH CAROLINA: GOP Senate candidate Thom Tillis is up with a new ad: “Washington has completely lost touch with working Americans. The federal budget is a joke. And Senators never pay the price.” Dems will counter that the state House speaker presided over a legislative session that has been widely pilloried for infighting and not doing enough for teachers.
The legislature’s lurch to the right has been central to Dem efforts to drive up Tillis’ negatives. Tillis’ new ad counters this by burnishing his “real world” bio, which you’ll hear a lot more of in the home stretch.
* AMERICANS HATE CONGRESS, PART 972: Gallup delivers the bad news:
Nineteen percent of U.S. registered voters say most members of Congress deserve re-election, roughly the same as in two measures earlier this year. This is on pace to be the lowest such “re-elect” sentiment in a midterm election year over Gallup’s history of asking this question since 1992.
The percentages who believe their own Members deserve reelection is also historically low. Both findings are associated with low rates of incumbent-survival. The question is whether this will apply in the core red state Senate battlegrounds.
* GOOD JOBS COMING BACK? Ylan Q. Mui reports that the recovery is finally taking hold in industries with good paying jobs, rather than only low-wage ones:
Hiring has picked up steam in areas such as construction, manufacturing and professional services in recent months — sectors with a median hourly wage of at least $20. Nearly 40 percent of the jobs created over the past six months have been in high-wage industries, compared with just a quarter during the last half of 2013, according to an analysis by the National Employment Law Project for The Washington Post. Meanwhile, growth in many low-paying jobs has leveled off or even declined.
It’s another sign the recovery could be poised to accelerate, though we’ve certainly heard that numerous times before.
* AND JONI ERNST IS AN ‘ONION OF CRAZY’: Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, in Iowa, on GOP Senate candidate Joni Ernst:
“I know that this state is known for its wind energy, for corn, for soybeans, but that woman is an onion of crazy,” she said. “Every time you peel back a layer, you find something more disturbing about her views.”
The race is a dead heat, but Dems believe Ernst’s real views have not yet been aired out. Thus far the national press seems far more interested in Dem Bruce Braley’s dispute over chickens than in Ernst’s history of startling quotes.