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Hullabaloo


Monday, December 23, 2013

 
Could GOP salivating over Obamacare help get immigration reform passed?

by David Atkins

Don't do anything to take the public's eyes off of Obamacare. That appears to be the Republican strategy given the smoothness of the budget negotiations and the GOP's current unwillingness to stir fiscal controversy. The bet is that problems with the ACA will yield political dividends for the GOP over the course of 2014, and that any reckless shutdown-style behavior can only harm their chances as Dems shoot themselves in the foot.

It's a risky strategy for the GOP, to be sure. Most of the public doesn't want to see the ACA repealed; many more people are signing up every day, and many millions more will do so particularly when the private insurers begin barrage the public with television ads. The feel-good success stories will also begin popping up more as well. That doesn't mean the GOP is making a bad bet necessarily: distrust and negative feelings about the ACA may well be baked into the cake at this point, and Republicans may well profit electorally come November.

But regardless of the wisdom of the bet, there may be another silver lining: a chance for immigration reform as Republicans look to minimize damage from Latinos this cycle. Already there are some indications that immigration reform isn't as dead as some might think:
A key House Republican said that if Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) secures several legislative wins early next year, an immigration bill could clear the lower chamber by next summer.

Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) was careful to say that the battles ahead for Congress and the White House — such as raising the debt ceiling — could shape whether the House acts on immigration reform in early 2014. Cole serves as a deputy whip on Boehner's leadership team.

With the caveat that the House will not vote on the Senate-passed bill, Cole envisions a situation where Boehner allows a vote on a couple or all of the four-House-Judiciary Committee-passed measures on immigration reform/border security.
Noting that Boehner has made it “abundantly clear” that he’d like to move immigration bills, Cole said that “we just saw a budget deal that made progress that brought people together from both sides from very different perspectives and I suspect that can be done on immigration as well.”
The calculation may well be that the GOP base has nowhere else to go, so why not throw them under the bus on immigration while continuing to howl about the ACA? That strategy also has risks for the GOP, but if it means the passage of a decent comprehensive immigration reform plan it would be good for the country regardless of its impact on 2014.


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