Is the 2016 GOP presidential nominee really going to campaign for the White House on pledges to…
1) scrap a hard-won international agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear program
2) withdraw the U.S. from participation in a global climate accord
3) reverse the ongoing restoration of diplomatic relations with Cuba, and
4) repeal a health law that continues to expand health coverage to tens of millions of people, nearly seven years after it was signed
5) fudging on how, or whether, to overhaul our immigration system and integrate millions of undocumented immigrants already here (before “securing the border”), an issue of enormous importance to the fast-growing Latino voting bloc, and
6) continuing to hold out against same-sex marriage even as it takes hold nationwide?
Recent events suggest this scenario is a genuine possibility. Which raises another question: how can Republicans offer such an agenda while deflecting likely Dem nominee Hillary Clinton’s efforts to cast the GOP as hopelessly trapped in the past at a time of rapid demographic and cultural change and evolving international challenges?
The news of the morning is that a deal with Iran is near, though it could fall apart. There are now signs of progress towards a global climate agreement. Plans to re-open U.S. and Cuban embassies are moving forward. The recent Supreme Court decision upholding Obamacare subsidies probably means the law will continue expanding coverage at least until 2017, the GOP’s next possible shot at rolling it back.
The 2016 GOP hopefuls have pledged to scrap a deal with Iran or have strongly criticized it. GOP governors will resist Obama’s forthcoming carbon rules, which will be key to our participation in a global climate deal, and the 2016 candidates will likely condemn any such accord. The major GOP candidates have criticized the relaxing of relations with Cuba. They are reiterating their commitment to repeal, with some even calling for scrapping the filibuster to make it easier. Some Republicans are now expressing skepticism that the party should bother tapping a nominee with strong appeal to Latinos, and several candidates (Marco Rubio, Scott Walker) have moved rightward on immigration. All the GOP candidates condemned the Court ruling of a Constitutional right to gay marriage.
By contrast, Hillary Clinton backs Obama’s push for an Iran deal, has pledged to safeguard his climate actions, supports his Cuba moves, is blasting Republicans over their Obamacare repeal obsession, backs comprehensive immigration reform and has vowed to build on his executive actions on deportation, and is aligning herself with cultural change on gay rights.
Perhaps GOP strategists don’t see any of this as a problem. Maybe they think the election will be decided on the economy. Maybe they think all this stuff is just pandering to the base that can be airbrushed away in the general. Or maybe they think Clinton’s positioning on all of it only appeals to the Dem base and could be a wash or worse among swing voters. But Clinton is already signaling that she will cast the GOP as the “party of the past.” While the GOP candidates are hoping to use Clinton’s longevity on the political scene to cast her as the real politician of the past, you’d think some GOP strategists might worry that the pile-up of above contrasts just might complicate that argument.
* 2016 GOP HOPEFULS SPLIT OVER NUKING FILIBUSTER: Politico reports that the 2016 GOP presidential candidates are divided over whether to scrap the Senate filibuster to make it easier to get rid of Obamacare under a GOP president. Scott Walker, Ted Cruz and Bobby Jindal are for it. But Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio are not. The argument against it:
If Republicans keep the Senate in 2016 and win the White House, they can use budget reconciliation to repeal significant portions of Obamacare with 51 votes without later risking a Democratic majority running roughshod on them the next time the GOP is in the minority.
They think repealing “significant portions” of Obamacare (without the killing the filibuster), as opposed to all of it, is good enough? Pathetic RINO squishes.
* TOM COTTON URGES OPPOSITION TO IRAN DEAL: With Secretary of State John Kerry saying a deal could still fall apart if it isn’t a “good” one, here’s Senator Tom Cotton, on ABC’s This Week:
“This is not like Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks trying to reach a contract that makes everyone happy. Iran should have faced a simple choice: they dismantle their nuclear program entirely or they face economic devastation and military destruction of their nuclear facilities.”
Forget about diplomacy — it’s so damn complicated!
* COULD SENATE DEMS SINK AN IRAN DEAL? The Hill lists out the 14 Senate Democrats to watch when it comes to the fate of an Iran deal in Congress. If many Dems do really oppose a deal, you’d think there would be hell to pay from the base.
Of course, Obama would merely have to get one chamber to stick with his veto of a measure opposing the deal, which he would very likely get, and it would go forward for now.
* SANDERS EMERGES AS HILLARY ALTERNATIVE: The Wall Street Journal takes a look at all the ways Senator Bernie Sanders has become the leading Dem alternative to Clinton, leaving Martin O’Malley way behind, struggling to gain any traction:
On the stump, Mr. Sanders pledges to take direct aim at the wealthy, diminish their power, expose their tax havens and break up the largest financial institutions in the country. He tells working-class Americans that he would fight for higher wages, guaranteed health care, family and medical leave and paid vacations.
Sanders has become the voice of the populist left. Meanwhile, Politico reports that the Clinton camp is not sweating the Sanders surge and is adopting a strategy designed to deny him oxygen.
* POLL FACTOID OF THE DAY, INEQUALITY EDITION: A new Quinnipiac poll of Iowa finds:
Likely Republican caucus-goers say 70-25 percent that the federal government should not pursue policies to reduce the income gap between wealthy and less wealthy Americans.
Nationally, Tea Party Republicans agree.
* GET READY FOR RAGING CONFEDERATE FLAG DEBATE: Today the South Carolina legislature will begin debating a proposal to take down the Confederate flag from statehouse grounds in the wake of the Charleston massacre. One diehard lawmaker — who fund-raises off the phrase “hands off my flag” — is pushing for a statewide referendum, arguing that only the people of the state should be allowed to make this decision.
But business interests are calling for it to be taken down — they apparently think it’s bad for the state’s image and business climate — so pro-flag holdouts are facing stiffer and stiffer headwinds.
* AND ON IMMIGRATION, IT’S TRUMP VERSUS JEB BUSH: Donald Trump is doubling down on his suggestion that illegal immigrants are drug dealers and rapists, and is ridiculing Jeb Bush for suggesting their plight might be a morally complex one.
GOP officials must be thrilled at the prospect of Trump smuggling his way into GOP debates!