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Hullabaloo


Thursday, February 20, 2014

 
GOP: Party over country

David Atkins

Greg Sargent has a good snag: not only do Americans broadly support immigration reform, so really do Republicans and evangelicals when the issue is fully explained:

Republican leaders themselves have admitted the problem must be solved. Last summer, back when reform looked plausible, John Boehner said a “vast majority” of House Republicans “do believe that we have to wrestle” with the problem of the 11 million. There’s no longer any debate from top Republicans: the status quo is unacceptable, including when it comes to the status of the undocumented.

There is evidence that even Republican base voters respond to the argument that the current situation is unacceptable. GOP pollster Whit Ayres explains that his polling and focus grouping shows that Republicans are hostile up front to reform, but once they are told the consequences of inaction are to maintain the broken status quo, they change their minds and support legalization under certain conditions.

Two polls this week found that more Americans say doing something about the 11 million is as important or more so than securing the border. Indeed, as Francis Wilkinson has put it, not only is the policy debate over the need to deal with the 11 million mostly over; the cultural debate underlying it is over, too.

Fear of Tea Party primaries may be motivating Republicans here, but the biggest reason Republicans are refusing to act on immigration reform is that they cynically don't want President Obama to get the credit. So they're taking a gamble on winning the White House without Latino support in 2016 (presumably winning 75% of the white vote?), then taking credit for passing immigration reform then.

From a strategic point of view, that's a bad and very risky bet. From a moral point of view, it's an outrage.

Sargent notes dryly:

Reform will happen. Republicans can continue deferring action, forever hoping that the next cycle will make embracing reform easier for them politically, or give them more leverage over what reform ends up looking like. Maybe that gamble will pay off. Or maybe it won’t, in which case reform will have to wait until Democrats control the White House and both houses of Congress, and do it themselves.
Anything can happen in politics, of course, but it's likelier to be the latter than the former no matter how 2014 plays out.


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