House Republicans

How Obama’s immigration push could hand the House to Democrats

A return to this?

A return to this? (CC BY: The White House/Pete Souza)

The Week

Even if Republicans seize the Senate

Everyone assumes that Republicans will easily hold the House in November. The dominant storyline among the chattering classes centers instead on the possibility that Republicans could seize control of the Senate from Democrats. But the rapidly escalating immigration face-off between President Barack Obama and House Republicans raises the possibility that Democrats could win back the House — even if Republicans do take the Senate

How is that possible? It’s simple: There are more competitive House races than Senate races in areas with significant Latino populations.

Last year, David Damore, a polling analyst for the firm Latino Decisions, found that there are 44 congressional districts with Republican incumbents that could be ousted if their Latino constituents flex their electoral muscle. “This includes districts where the Latino voting-age population exceeds the 2012 margin of victory or swing districts won in 2012 by President Obama and the House Republican candidate that also have notable Latino populations,” he wrote.

Now of course, not all of the 44 districts where Latinos can theoretically play a decisive role are considered competitive today. Damore recently lamented that Democrats failed to recruit strong challengers across the board. Professional congressional handicappers Stu RothenbergCharlie Cook, and Larry Sabato suggest that around 19 of these districts remain in play, including 16 Republicans running for re-election and three other seats where the Republican incumbent won’t be on the ballot.

That may not seem like a lot for a body with 435 representatives. But Democrats only need to flip 17 seats to take over the House. While most observers see that as a bridge too far for Democrats this year, the political terrain in these Latino-strong districts may look different in the fall. Just as we head into the midterms’ final two-month sprint, Obama will likely have followed through on this week’s pledge to use executive orders to help keep immigrant families together in America.

Obama can’t fix the entire immigration system by fiat. He can’t unilaterally bestow citizenship on the undocumented. He can’t even ensure his executive orders will stay on the books once he vacates the Oval Office in 2017. There will still be a need for Congress to act. And immigration advocates may well turn all their fire on obstructionist House Republicans once Obama has shown he has done all he can without them.

Suddenly, the midterms might be all about immigration. Obama would be viewed by Latinos as the one guy trying to stick up for them, intransigent Republicans be damned. And that’s big trouble for the GOP.

Obviously, a Democratic takeover of the House would remain a long shot. This sort of thing almost never happens in a two-term president’s sixth year. And Democrats would effectively have to run the table, winning nearly all of the Latino-strong districts, and maybe picking off a few other Republicans facing tough races, while avoiding losses in the several competitive races involving Democratic incumbents. That would be neither easy nor likely. But it is possible.

Complicating matters for Democrats: Republicans representing increasingly influential Latino constituencies have been trying to keep the immigration monkey off their backs. Reps. Jeff Denham and David Valadao, Californians with particularly robust Latino constituencies, have gone as far as supporting Democratic legislation that would provide a path to citizenship for the undocumented. Others, like Nevada’s Rep. Joe Heck, support narrower legislation that would allow citizenship for undocumented children. And some, like freshman Indiana Rep. Jackie Walorski, who barely won her seat in 2012, simply avoid taking firm positions. Democrats could have difficulty landing blows on such slippery targets.

But all of these Republicans share one big vulnerability: refusal to join Democrats in signing a “discharge petition” that would have forced a House floor vote on the Senate-approved comprehensive immigration bill. That gives Democratic challengers a hammer to bludgeon Republicans who attempt to obfuscate their role in obstructing reform. Democrats can make a clear and legitimate case to voters that reform can only happen if the GOP incumbent is tossed.

Furthermore, as The New Republic’s Sasha Issenberg reported earlier in the year, Democratic campaign operatives have been busy adapting their modern get-out-the-vote technologies and field operations to replicate their 2012 success and boost turnout among unlikely voters in 2014. Issenberg sums up the challenge: “While Latinos’ total presidential votes tripled from 1988 to 2012, their midterm participation has declined by about seven points.” That may be changing, and Democrats toiling in the House campaign trenches may now have the infrastructure necessary to really turn out the midterm vote.

Immigration will probably have less of an impact in Senate races. Every competitive 2014 Senate race, with the exception of Colorado, is in a state where the Latino eligible voter population is less than five percent. Of course, in any nail-biter race, even a constituency of three percent can play an outsized role. But with so many of these races occurring in red states, embattled Senate Democrats will likely want to avoid the potential for right-wing anti-immigrant backlash. That explains why the Senate Democrats’ “Fair Shot” 2014 agenda touts raising the minimum wage, promoting equal pay, investing in manufacturing jobs, and protecting Medicare — but nothing about immigration.

In other words, the House Democratic campaign strategy and the Senate Democratic campaign strategy may run along separate tracks, one driving immigration, the other pushing the economy. One strategy could work while the other flops. That creates the possibility, however unlikely, for something completely unprecedented: a midterm election where Democrats and Republicans trade control of each congressional branch.

Obama, Blaming Congress, Says He’ll Go It Alone on Immigration

 NBC News

President Barack Obama said Monday that he is moving ahead with executive actions to address immigration after a sweeping comprehensive reform bill languished in the House for more than a year.

“I take executive action only when we have a serious problem, a serious issue and Congress chooses to do nothing,” he said. “And in this situation, the failure of House Republicans to pass a darn bill is bad for our security, it’s bad for our economy, and it’s bad for our future.”

Obama said that he is sending additional resources to the border to stem a growing tide of undocumented immigrants into the county and that he has directed his team to recommend further executive actions to slow deportations by the end of the summer.

The move was prompted after House Speaker John Boehner formally told the president last week that the House will not move on immigration legislation, a White House official said.

The president has been under intense pressure from immigration advocates to bypass Congress and address the high rate of deportations of undocumented immigrants. Last year, the Senate passed a sweeping immigration bill that would have offered a path to citizenship for many who are in the country illegally, but the GOP-led House refused to vote on the measure, saying that Obama could not be trusted to enforce the legislation’s border security rules.

GOP denies going mum on Obamacare

Zipped lips emoticon

attribution: Dreamstime/Yayayoyo

Daily Kos

What happens when eight million people sign up for private insurance under Obamacare and millions more get coverage under the law’s Medicaid expansion? This:

House Republicans have no scheduled votes or hearings on ObamaCare, signaling a shift in the party’s strategy as the White House rides a wave of good news on the law.

Not a single House committee has announced plans to attack the healthcare law in the coming weeks, and only one panel of jurisdiction commented to The Hill despite repeated inquiries.

GOP campaign committees also declined to say whether they will launch any new efforts on the law.

But according to Senate Republicans, the notion that Republicans are running from their attacks on Obamacare is a load of bunk:

“There is absolutely zero evidence that any Republican is talking about ObamaCare less,” said National Republican Senatorial Committee spokeswoman Brook Hougesen in a statement.

Oh yeah? Well, then what do you call this?

Chart showing Fox turns attention to Benghazi as Obamacare's success grew.

Chart showing Fox turns attention to Benghazi as Obamacare’s success grew.

attribution: Daily Kos

I mean, I guess you could argue that the only reason that Republicans are talking about Benghazi and not Obamacare is that Benghazi is the biggest scandal in American history—butonly if you’re delusional. If you’re grounded in reality, the real reason couldn’t be more obvious: Even the GOP understands that repealing health care coverage for millions of Americans is a terrible campaign message, and Benghazi is a shiny object with which to distract their gullible base.

Carney: GOPers Admit Benghazi About ‘Trying to Raise Money and Motivate Their Base’

Mediaite

During an appearance on MSNBC on Friday, NBC News reporter Kristen Welker grilled White House Press Sec. Jay Carney about how the White House views the establishment of a select committee to investigate the Benghazi attack. Carney said that the investigation is unnecessary and even Republicans have confessed that the effort is not aimed at uncovering the truth but to increase campaign donations and excite the GOP base.

“House Republicans, in what is a blatantly political and partisan effort, voted to start another investigation into this matter,” Carney began, “presumably because the six previous investigations by Congress, by Republicans, were somehow not adequate.”

“It’s unfortunate that House Republicans continue to pursue this in a highly partisan manner,” he added. “And, in fact, they themselves have acknowledged how political it is and how oriented it is toward trying to raise money and motivate their base for a midterm election.”

Watch the clip below via MSNBC:

 

This Was The Week The GOP’s Anti-Obamacare Circus Came Crashing Down

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AP Photo | J. Scott Applewhite

TPMDC

Both incidents marked seismic shifts from the days of HealthCare.gov’s disastrous launch, when Republicans readily grilled Sebelius and other officials over the law, taking as many shots as they could while Obamacare’s future was uncertain.

The first Senate confirmation hearing Thursday for Sylvia Mathews Burwell, tapped to succeed Sebelius, would have seemed a natural opportunity for the Republican members to flex their opposition to the law. And while many of the usual talking points made appearances — canceled health plans, lost jobs and HealthCare.gov’s miserable launch — the tone itself was strikingly cordial.

Only ranking member Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) actually interrupted Burwell in an effort to pin her down on an answer to a question about the administration’s “keep your health plan” fix, while Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) made a guest appearance to introduce and endorse her to the committee.

“Regardless of my objections to the Affordable Care Act, the Department of Health and Human Services needs competent leadership,” McCain said.

A few GOP members, like Sens. Johnny Isakson (GA) and Richard Burr (NC), ignored Obamacare altogether. Isakson focused his questioning on a port project that he wants approved, while Burr inquired about public health preparedness. Burr then gave Burwell his full-throated support.

“I support her nomination and I will vote for it. She doesn’t come with a single experience that would make her a good secretary. She comes with a portfolio of experience,” Burr said. “I look forward to her confirmation being quick.”

That notably tame Senate hearing followed a House hearing the day earlier during which House Republicans became visibly agitated when the insurance executives they called to testify refused to deliver the bad news that they were hunting for.

It was easy to see coming. At least one industry source had already dismissed the Republican report that served as the basis for the meeting as “incredibly rigged,” and the testimony prepared by the hearing’s witnesses thoroughly debunked the GOP’s findings.

So committee members at the hearing went fishing for other bad headlines instead — perhaps the prospect of significant premium increases in 2015. “I can’t say for certain,” one of the witnesses said of next year’s rates. “I don’t have the exact numbers yet,” another offered.

Things got so bad that, at one point, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) effectively chastised industry executives for not producing any information on the 2015 rates, which Republicans have warned could skyrocket.

“You have done no internal analysis on what the trend line is for these premiums? None?” Blackburn said, clearly exasperated. “It is baffling that we could have some of our nation’s largest insurers, and you all don’t have any internal analysis of what these rates are going to be.”

It was that kind of week for the GOP.

House GOP Basically Admits Its Obamacare Survey Was Bogus

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TPM DC

“After discussions with many of you, the Committee believes that gathering data through May 20, 2014 should accurately capture the number of individuals who have completed their enrollments through (HealthCare.gov) by paying their premium,” the email, sent by a committee staffer, said. It was accompanied by a formal letter from committee leadership.

The implication, of course, is that the committee’s previous survey, which gathered data only through April 15, did not provide an accurate picture.

That was the criticism levied by many against the committee’s initial report.

While the committee had already announced that it planned to collect more information, the email sent Thursday helps explain why: It appears insurers, like TPM’s source, had noted the problem with the GOP’s methodology.

Anonymous GOP staffers expressed the same sentiment when they were asked about the criticisms of their survey by The Daily Beast. When given an opportunity to rebut the critique that it was “rigged,” they didn’t, the Daily Beast reported.

BIG TROUBLE…

 

The Huffington Post

Democrats Have A Shot At Taking Back The House As Republican Popularity Continues To Drop: Poll

A new survey of 25 GOP-held districts shows dwindling favorability for Republican members of the House in the wake of the recent government shutdown.

The survey, conducted by liberal-leaning Public Policy Polling and funded by MoveOn.org, is the third in a series of polls that indicate Democrats have a shot at taking back the House of Representatives in the 2014 election cycle.

The results of the latest survey show that incumbent Republicans in 15 of the 25 districts polled trail generic Democratic candidates. When combined with the results of the previous surveys, the polls show that generic Democratic candidates lead in 37 of 61 GOP-held districts.

When voters were informed their Republican candidate supported the government shutdown, 11 more districts flipped and one race became a tie.

Democrats in the House only need to see a net increase of 17 seats in order to take back the majority. This poll indicates that Democrats could see an increase of as many as 49 seats.

Public Policy Polling indicated several caveats to the results. The surveys were conducted during a high-profile budget crisis debate, a year before the elections will take place. And incumbent Republican candidates were compared to “generic Democrats,” who may not represent the actual candidates each district will see.

“Democrats must recruit strong candidates and run effective campaigns in individual districts if they are to capitalize on the vulnerability revealed by these surveys,” Public Policy Polling’s Jim Williams said of the caveat, “and they must maintain a significant national advantage over Republicans.”

Recent polls conducted by the Pew Research Center and NBC/Wall Street Journal are consistent with the survey’s claim that the Republican party took a hit from the fiscal crisis. Pew found that more Americans blamed Republicans for the shutdown, and NBC/Wall Street Journal found that the Republican party was “badly damaged” by it.

Jon Stewart Blasts GOP Over Shutdown: When The Giants Lost, They Didn’t Shut Down The NFL

The Huffington Post

Jon Stewart opened Monday’s “Daily Show” by addressing the government shutdown, and placed the blame squarely on the House Republicans for going to great lengths in their one-sided fight against Obamacare, which he mockingly called “The End of America as We Know It for Reasons No One is Able to Clearly Explain.”

“You’re just throwing words together!” he exclaimed in response to a montage of Republicans rattling off their love of the Constitution to show their hatred of Obamacare, and then blasting Obama for failing to compromise. “It’s a f**king law!” he said, pointing out that all three branches of government had thus far upheld the law.

He then compared the Republicans to a losing football team. “Did you see the Giants game on Sunday?” he asked. “They lost 31-7. Do you know what the Giants didn’t say after that game? ‘If you don’t give us 25 more points by midnight on Monday, we will shut down the f**king NFL.’”

But he really drove the point home by invoking one small business owner with a message to the House Republicans about their current situation:

 

White House To Boehner On Jobs Plan: Did We Hit A Nerve?

TPMDC 

The White House is holding fast to its claim that Republicans are running a do-nothing Congress, and, unlike President Obama, have yet to put forth a jobs bill — or at least a real one.

Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) press office Thursday evening pointedly released a summary of a private phone call he and Obama had earlier that day, in which Boehner took serious issue with Obama’s claims during that morning’s press conference that he has yet to see a GOP plan for job creation. (Obama had called Boehner to congratulate him on the passage of trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama).

Boehner reminded Obama that House Republicans put forth a “Plan for America’s Job Creators” in May, and noted that he and other members of the GOP leadership team have spoken with the President and his staff about the plan and referenced it on numerous occasions, in letters and elsewhere.

The GOP plan consists of repealing government regulations on businesses, reducing taxes on individuals to 25 percent, allowing businesses to reinvest their overseas profits in the U.S. without having to pay a tax penalty, passing the three trade agreements, maximizing U.S. energy production and paying down the debt by slashing government spending.

But the White House argues that most of those policies — minus the trade agreements (which he strongly supported) — won’t do anything to create jobs immediately, and so Obama and his team don’t consider the proposal a real Jobs plan and they haven’t been shy about saying so.

Continue reading here…

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Credit agencies warn GOP of ‘death spiral’

“No one is as deaf as the man who will not listen.” ~ Jewish Proverb

Politico

House Republicans were cautioned Thursday in a closed door meeting with credit rating agency officials that a “death spiral” in the bond market was one of the possible outcomes in the event of default.

One official warned of a worst-case scenario in which a default on the nation’s credit could result in a rapid drop in bond values, sparking chaos in the markets — a dramatic warning asWashington worked on a possible deal on deficit reduction and an increase in the debt limit.

Members who attended the meeting later countered that the tone of the discussion was not nearly as apocalyptic as the phrase initially made it sound. According to sources inside the room, the “death spiral” term was also used in reference to the collapse of Lehmann Brothers in September 2008 as a historical example.

Rep. Nan Hayworth, a freshman Republican from New York, hosted this off-the-record meeting with GOP House lawmakers Thursday afternoon. Hayworth called the meeting a “dispassionate and objective” discussion about the potentially disastrous consequences of not raising the debt ceiling by the August deadline. But Republicans said they were also told that unless the government undertook a serious deficit reduction program, the credit ratings could still assign a negative outlook to the nation’s debt anyway.

“If we do nothing, if we simply raise the debt ceiling, without a change in America’s spending trajectory then the markets will react negatively as well. That’s certainly the message I took away,” said Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.).

Read more…

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