Washington Watch: GOP outrage helping Democrats

The president said, “Our immigration system is broken.” That ain’t all that needs fixin’.

US President Barack Obama (photo credit: REUTERS)
US President Barack Obama
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Michele Bachmann is one of those Republican extremists who will keep Hispanics voting in the Democratic column for a long time.
The Minnesota Republican said the president’s executive order on immigration will “flood” the country with “millions of unskilled” foreigners “who can’t speak English” but will become “illiterate” voters. Even Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) thought the Tea Party leader’s comments were “unfortunate, unfair, unnecessary, unwise,” The Washington Post reported.
The over-the-top response of most Republicans – and talk of impeachment, censure and lawsuits targeting President Barack Obama – can only help Democrats by telling the fastest growing segment of the population “we don’t want you here.”
Bachmann’s response was not unusual. Once and future presidential hopeful former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pennsylvania) said the president’s policy would take jobs away from good American workers and give them to illegal aliens.
Most Jewish voters support comprehensive immigration reform, including a path to citizenship.
Many organizations lauded the president’s action, including the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the National Jewish Democratic Council, the National Council of Jewish Women and the Rabbinical Assembly.
Not surprisingly, the reflexively anti-Obama Republican Jewish Coalition said the president “exceeded his legitimate authority” and “sets a belligerent tone” for the next two years. As if that were different from the GOP tone toward him of the past six years.
There is a fundamental difference between the two parties’ approaches to immigration reform. The president and most Democrats see it as a question of keeping together families who’ve been here at least five years; to Republicans is it primarily a security issue of rounding up the illegals and sending them back while more heavily fortifying the borders to make sure they and others can’t return.
Little wonder a survey by Latino Decisions shows 89 percent support for the president’s policy among Latino registered voters, including 76% of registered Republicans.
But this debate is about more than border security and family cohesion. It is part of the larger campaign for 2016 and beyond.
Will the obstructionism of the Republicans cost them the Hispanic vote for years to come? Will the Democrats standing up for these minorities cost them votes from the white males who are the Republican base? Having control of both chambers of Congress, Republicans want to be able to go to voters in two years and tell them, “We can govern and the other guys are failures so give us the presidency, too.”
The Democrats want to tell voters “those guys are obstructionists and incapable of governing.”
With that mindset, don’t expect to see much cooperation, just more gridlock, bickering and accusations.
Speaker John Boehner said, “The president has chosen to deliberately sabotage any chance of enacting bipartisan reforms.” He knows better.
If he were in any way serious about “bipartisan reforms” he had 500 days to show it and did not bring up the bipartisan Senate-passed bill; there’s no reason to believe it will be any different next year. The same goes for Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona). He said the president acted prematurely without giving the incoming Congress a chance to act on the matter.
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) has spent the past six years leading a record number of filibusters with one avowed mission: to make sure Obama is a failure. Now that he’s going to be the majority leader he is not about to become Kentucky’s second “great compromiser.”
Bachmann is retiring at the end of this term but is hinting that she may make another run for the GOP presidential nomination. Immigration is sure to be a hot topic in 2016; in fact that’s part of what the dust-up over the president’s action is all about as potential GOP contenders appeal to the party’s right wing, the traditional early strategy in the Republican nomination race.
Three presidential wannabes in the Senate and outspoken critics of the president’s actions are Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Rand Paul. Cruz and Rubio are sons of Cuban immigrants.
Rubio was one of the authors of the Senate bill but once it started taking flack from the Tea Partiers he did a 180. Cruz wants to punish the president by refusing to vote on any of his nominees. And Paul, reaching for the title of “most hyperbolic,” likened Obama’s move to FDR’s executive order authorizing putting Japanese- Americans in internment camps during World War II.
Journalist Chris Nelson wrote in his Washington newsletter that “Obama forcing the move now would put every Republican presidential candidate in the horrible position of having to denounce his action, and stick to that line, to have any chance of winning GOP primaries and thus the nomination.”
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) and others are talking impeachment, Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Iowa) wants Congress to “censure” the president, Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks wants him arrested for breaking a federal law he can’t cite, the Kansas attorney general and Arizona’s notorious Sheriff Joe Arpaio are preparing to file suit, others are trying to figure out legislative maneuvers to force him to rescind his order and some Republicans are threatening to shut down the government until he meets their demands.
It is not as though the Republicans haven’t had a year and a half to come up with a comprehensive reform bill or give the House a chance to vote on the bipartisan Senate bill. They’re too deeply divided to come up with a bill that Democrats could support and the chances that will change when they control both chambers appear remote.
Cruz, Bachmann and others are deliberately misrepresenting what the president did.
There’s no amnesty, no path to citizenship in his executive order and it does not grant citizenship or voting rights to anyone.
Cruz wrongly called the 2014 election a “referendum on amnesty,” which he misrepresented as opening a path to citizenship. “Exit poll data show exactly the opposite,” reported FactCheck.org. In fact voters said, by a 51-39 margin, “those living in the US illegally but working should be offered legal status.”
Republicans may be counting on under-voting by Hispanics, as happened in this month’s election, but that was attributed to disappointment in Washington’s inaction on immigration.
Since then the president’s executive order was enthusiastically received, as the Latino Decisions poll showed, and the uniform condemnation of Obama’s action by Republicans is expected to boost turnout in 2016, to the benefit of Democrats.
The president said, “Our immigration system is broken.” That ain’t all that needs fixin’.