Friday, February 1, 2013

How the GOP is going to get played on immigration and guns

Its clear that when it comes to immigration and gun violence, the Republicans (especially those who want a shot at 2016) are in a bind. They know that the reforms being talked about by President Obama are tremendously popular - and yet they need to appeal to their base by opposing him. What they're looking for is some movement on those reforms at the same time that they appear to be in battle with the President.

Let's take Senator Rubio on immigration reform for example. We know that he initially failed in his attempt to beat President Obama to the punch on legislation to address the issues facing the DREAMers. But this time around, the bipartisan group of Senators got their act together to announce their plans on comprehensive immigration reform just a few days before President Obama announced his plan in Nevada. I'm pretty sure that was Rubio's goal and it likely gave the Democratic Senators some leverage in their negotiations.

So now we have the two plans with President Obama's just to the "left" of the Senate's. But what does the President think about their plan?
The president embraced a statement of principles offered Monday by four Democratic and four Republican senators, which would strengthen border security and employment verification in exchange for a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants in the United States.
But according to Rubio, you'd think we were heading for an epic battle.
Speaking on Fox News on Tuesday, Rubio insisted that illegal immigrants not be allowed to obtain green cards -- let alone citizenship -- "until the enforcement stuff is in place."

"I think that would be a terrible mistake," Rubio told Fox News. "We have a bipartisan group of senators that have agreed to that. For the president to try to move the goalposts on that specific requirement, as an example, does not bode well in terms of what his role's going to be in this or the outcome."

He said: "If that's not in the bill, I won't support it."
What Rubio wants is for his base to not notice that he's given in on everything from the border fence to a pathway to citizenship (what the right has typically called "amnesty"). He wants it to appear as if there's a big battle he's going to wage over a commission that makes "recommendations" about triggers on border security. If he can convince the Republican base that that is where the true battle lines are drawn, he can pacify them in appearing to be their champion.

The reason that works for him is that the GOP isn't about championing actual ideas on these issues - its all about beating Obama. But in the meantime, the battle over the really important reforms has already been won.

We're likely to see the same thing on gun violence. While the GOP yells and screams about how President Obama wants to take their assault weapons away, we're likely to get a bill passed that requires universal background checks for gun purchases - something the gun control lobby says is the priority.

As all this plays out, the professional left will play their role. They'll yell and scream right back about the horrors of the immigration reform commission and the assault weapons ban - just like they provided the distraction about a public option in health care reform.

Meanwhile President Obama and the Democrats will keep moving the ball down the field with these reforms.

But shhhhh...don't tell the screamers ;-)

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