U.S. Politics

‘Small Government’ Republicans Want To Control D.C.’s Budget

‘Small Government’ Republicans Want To Control D.C.’s Budget

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) | REUTERS/Joshua Roberts


The House passed legislation Wednesday afternoon gutting a local ballot measure that would give Washington, D.C. more control over its finances. The vote took place on partisan lines, with Republicans voting for the measure and Democrats voting against it.

“The current D.C. government needs to be reined in,” said House Majority Leader Paul Ryan in a statement highlighting Republican arguments in support of the bill. “We will not allow Congress and the Constitution to be undermined.

“Congress has ultimate authority over the District,” he said, “and efforts to undermine this authority are in violation of the Constitution. There are real consequences.”

Lawmakers had voted 240-179 in favor of a bill that would prevent the District from spending tax dollars without congressional approval. The vote is the latest in a campaign that started in 2012 to give residents of D.C. greater autonomy in how to spend the city’s money, and is part of an effort by Republican congressmen to prevent the District from using local or federal cash to fund abortions or marijuana decriminalization (pot was legalized late last year in D.C.).

While the Republican-controlled Congress says it’s only reining in unconstitutional excesses, D.C.’s non-voting Congressional representative Eleanor Holmes Norton was understandably angered by legislation that nullified the 2012 Budget Autonomy Act, a ballot initiative aimed at giving more power to local government.

“It is profoundly undemocratic for any member of Congress in the 21st century to declare that he has authority over any jurisdiction except his own,” she said during a debate on the House floor.

But House Republicans have argued that the ballot initiative was a clear violation of the District of Columbia Home Rule Act, a law passed in 1973 which devolved certain powers, like being able to elect a mayor and city council. But all laws passed by the District’s government had to be reviewed and approved by Congress before being signed into law, including yearly budget plans, hence the Republican bill aimed at overturning the Budget Autonomy Act.

President Obama has said he would veto any legislation that barred D.C. from following through on the overwhelming support the 2012 ballot initiative received from the city’s residents.

“The Administration strongly opposes House passage of H.R. 5233, which would repeal the District of Columbia’s Local Budget Autonomy Amendment Act of 2012,” read a statement of administrative policy sent out yesterday. “The Administration strongly supports home rule for the District and the President has long called for authority allowing the District to spend its own local taxes and other non-Federal funds without congressional approval … If the President were presented with H.R. 5233, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.”

Prior to the vote, city officials had said they were planning to not submit their budget to Congress, as per the stipulations of the Budget Autonomy Act. Should Paul Ryan have his way, D.C. would be forced to submit its budget for approval, possibly at the cost of programs popular with residents of the District, including providing local funding for abortion access for Medicaid-eligible women, and establishing a regulatory framework for legal marijuana sales.

REUTERS/Joshua Roberts


U.S. Politics

Heartless House Republicans Vote To Take Health Care Away From 22 Million Americans

Paul Ryan Meet The Press


House Republicans began 2016 with a heartless and politically clueless vote to take health care away from 22 million Americans.

The final vote was 240-181. One Democrat voted with Republicans to take health care away from millions and 3 Republicans voted with Democrats against the bill.

Before the vote, Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Sander Levin (D-MI) said, “This bill is reckless and has zero chance of becoming law. But most significantly, it’s heartless. What it says from Republicans here to millions: an unhappy New Year. It could take health insurance away from 22 million people.”

House Republicans offered up the same untrue talking points that they have been using against the ACA for years.

There was nothing new said by Republicans that hasn’t been said before, but conservatives are so out of touch that they are celebrating sending a bill to the desk of the President that he is certain to veto. In a statement, Heritage Action said, “Today’s vote and forthcoming and forthcoming presidential veto will provide momentum to help make the full repeal of Obamacare a reality in 2017.”

The key takeaway from today’s vote is that Republicans are showing every American what they plan to do if they win the White House and keep control of Congress.

What House Republicans accomplished with this vote was shrink their support even more ahead of the presidential election. Millions of people would be negatively impacted if Obamacare repeal and Planned Parenthood defunding became law.

In his veto threat before the Senate voted on the reconciliation bill, Obama said:

Repealing key elements of the Affordable Care Act would result in millions of individuals remaining uninsured or losing the insurance they have today. An estimated 17.6 million Americans gained coverage as several of the Affordable Care Act’s coverage provisions have taken effect – 15.3 million since the beginning of the first open enrollment in October 2013. The Senate amendment to H.R. 3762 would roll back coverage gains and would cost millions of hard-working middle-class families the security of affordable health coverage they deserve.

Repealing the health care law would have implications far beyond these Americans who have or will gain insurance. More than 150 million Americans with employer-based insurance would be at risk of higher premiums and lower wages, or losing their coverage altogether. It would raise taxes on certain middle-class families. The Senate amendment to H.R. 3762 also would defund the Prevention and Public Health Fund, limit women’s health care choices, and disproportionately impact low-income individuals.

Instead of making their tent bigger, Republicans are dooming themselves to defeat. House Republicans continue to pander to the gerrymandered districts that got them elected instead of doing what is right for the rest of the country.

House Republicans are running on a platform of taking away health care from tens of millions of Americans. It is a losing argument that is bound to be rejected by voters on Election Day 2016.

Jason Easley

U.S. Politics

White House Spokesman Tears Into House GOP Over Confederate Flag

AP Photo / Carolyn Kaster


The press secretary also took the time to knock Republicans who have not renounced Donald Trump for his remarks calling Mexican immigrants “rapists” and drug dealers.

“These are the same congressional Republicans who have declined to criticize the race-baiting rhetoric of a leading Republican presidential candidate. That’s to say nothing of the Senate Republican who has saluted that candidate,” he said, likely referring to comments made by Trump.

“So when you hear me say that congressional Republicans have an agenda that is out of step with the vast majority of Americans, this record, at least in part, is what I’m referring to,” Earnest continued.

Following Earnest’s remarks Thursday afternoon, House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) office responded, saying that’s Earnest’s comments about the amendment pertaining to the Confederate flag were “dishonest.”

“Distorting fact to try and score cheap political points is no way to honor the victims of the horrific crime in Charleston. These childish attacks are completely dishonest, and beneath the dignity of the office of the presidency,” Cory Fritz, Boehner’s press secretary, said in a statement to TPM.

After the House on Tuesday passed Democratic amendments to the Interior spending bill that would prohibit Confederate flags from being displayed at federal cemeteries and sold at stores on National Park Service land, House Republicans moved on Wednesday to defend the flag.

Republicans then proposed an amendment that would allow for the display and sale of Confederate flags on federal lands.

However, after House Democrats decried the GOP’s defense of the Confederate flag, the House suspended the vote on the Interior spending bill while the House sorts out the Confederate flag amendments.


U.S. Politics

40 Interesting Facts about the 2014 Election

This is not a pretty picture for Dems.  The truth might hurt but this reminder informs Dems that they must do better in 2016

Cook Political Report

The votes have been tallied and all recounts completed. Congress even managed to adjourn sine die. That means it really is time to close the books on the 2014 election cycle. It also means that we are going to take some time off to recharge for the 2016 election. We’ll be back the week of January 12, 2015. In the meantime, here are 40 interesting facts about the 2014 election to hold you over while we are away. Happy holidays.

1. There were two magic numbers in 2014: 86 and 1928

– Democrats now have the lowest number of U.S. House seats they have held in 86 years, or since 1928.

– Democrats are tied for the lowest number of U.S. Senate seats they have held in 86 years, or since 1928.

– Democrats now hold fewer state legislative seats than they have in 86 years, or since 1928.

2. Republicans picked up nine seats to win the majority in the U.S. Senate. The GOP hasn’t won more than six Senate seats in a single cycle since 1994 when they picked up 10 seats.

3. Republicans didn’t lose a single incumbent Senator in a primary or in the general election for the first time since 2004.

4. Republicans defeated five Senate incumbents; Mark Begich (AK), Mark Pryor (AR), Mark Udall (CO), Mary Landrieu (LA), and Kay Hagan (NC). The last time Republicans defeated more than two Democratic incumbents in a cycle was in 1980. Also, it was a bad year to be a Democratic Senator named Mark.

5. The 114th Congress will convene with 53 U.S. Senators who previously served in the U.S. House. This is more than in any Congress dating back to at least 1899 (courtesy University of Minnesota’s SmartPolitics).

6. Despite the closing CW that Obamacare had faded as an issue, the President’s healthcare law nevertheless was the #2 most-used issue in GOP-sponsored U.S. Senate general election broadcast spots, at 16.6%, after healthcare generally (20.6%, which includes anti-Obamacare spots) but well ahead of jobs (12.1%) (courtesy Kantar Media/CMAG).

7. 58 percent of all Republican general election broadcast spots in U.S. Senate races were anti-Obama (courtesy Kantar Media/CMAG).

8. 10 percent of all Republican general election broadcast spots in U.S. Senate races focused on immigration (courtesy Kantar Media/CMAG).

9. The Senate race with the highest number of unique general election advertisers was Iowa, with 40 (courtesy Kantar Media/CMAG).

10. 47 percent of all Democratic general election spots in the Colorado Senate race focused on abortion (courtesy Kantar Media/CMAG).

11. The Senate race in which anti-Koch spots accounted for the highest percentage of Democratic spots was Michigan, at 35 percent (courtesy Kantar Media/CMAG).

12. The three Republican outside group advertisers who were most active in Senate races (by number of races) were U.S. Chamber of Commerce (12), Americans for Prosperity (9), Crossroads GPS (9) (all elections) (courtesy Kantar Media/CMAG).

13. The three Democratic outside group advertisers who were most active in Senate races (by number of races) were Senate Majority PAC (9), Patriot Majority USA (6), Vote Vets Action Fund (6) (all elections) (courtesy Kantar Media/CMAG).

14. Number of Senate races with Democratic Spanish-language advertising: 5 (CO, GA, NC, NM, TX) versus the number of Senate races with Republican Spanish-language advertising: 2 (CO, TX) (courtesy Kantar Media/CMAG).

15. Republicans won 57% of all U.S. House districts in 2014, up from 54% in 2012. But measured by land area, House Republicans will represent an astonishing 86% of the nation, up from 80% after 2012.

16. In 2010, House Republicans won 6.61% more votes than House Democrats, and won 33 more seats than Democrats. In 2014, House Republicans won just 5.71% more votes than House Democrats, but won 59 more seats than Democrats. Nationally, we estimate Democrats would have needed to win 9.73% more votes than Republicans in 2014 just to break even in the House.

17. After the 2006 election, there were 57 Democrats who sat in districts carried by George W. Bush. After the 2014 election, there are just 5 Democrats who sit in a district carried by Mitt Romney.

18. Not since Harry Truman has one party lost as many U.S. House seats in mid-term elections as have Democrats in 2010 and 2014. During Truman’s two mid-term elections, Democrats lost 83 seats. Under Obama, Democrats have lost 76 House seats.

19. There are no longer any Democrats in the U.S. House who represent rural Appalachia nor are there any white Democrats from the Deep South.

20. Of the 43 Republican House freshman, 35 (81%) are white men. Of the 17 Democratic House freshmen, just six (35%) are white men. Overall, 87% of House Republicans will be white men in 2015, compared to just 43% of House Democrats.

21. Of the 118 districts where less than 50% of residents are non-Hispanic whites, Democrats will hold 98 (83%). Of the 114 districts where over 80% of residents are non-Hispanic whites, Republicans will hold 97 (85%).

22. In the 24 states with competitive Senate or gubernatorial races, votes cast in the average House race declined by 30% versus 2012. But in the 26 “orphan” states with no competitive Senate or gubernatorial election, votes cast in the average House race declined by 43%.

23. The closest House race in the country was in Arizona’s 2nd CD, where Republican Martha McSally defeated Democratic Rep. Ron Barber by just 167 votes. In 2012, Barber had defeated McSally by 2,454 votes.

24. In California, there were eight House races decided by 5% or less. Democrats won all of them. Incredibly, Republicans haven’t picked up a House seat in California since 1998, despite two mid-term waves in 2010 and 2014.

25. In U.S. House races, although one side may have emphasized an issue more than the other, Democrats and Republicans both leaned on budget/government spending, healthcare, and taxes, at 1-2-3, in their broadcast TV ads. Democrats’ 4-point lead over Republicans in mentioning taxes no doubt was due to their charges of GOP support for tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy (courtesy Kantar Media/CMAG).

26. 18 percent of all Republican general election spots in U.S. House races featured Nancy Pelosi (courtesy Kantar Media/CMAG).

27. 8 percent of all Republican general election spots in U.S. House races focused on immigration (courtesy Kantar Media/CMAG).

28. The House race with the highest number of unique general election advertisers was CA-52, with 16 (courtesy Kantar Media/CMAG).

29. Among competitive House races, the contest in which anti-Koch spots accounted for the highest percentage of Democratic spots was WV-03, at 33 percent with 14,607 total spots and 4,797 anti-Koch spots (courtesy Kantar Media/CMAG).

30. The three Republican outside group advertisers who were most active in House races U.S. Chamber of Commerce (17), American Action Network (12), and Congressional Leadership Fund (11) (all elections) (courtesy Kantar Media/CMAG).

31. The three Democratic outside group advertisers who were most active in House races (by number of races) were House Majority PAC (35), Patriot Majority USA (7), and Center Forward (6) (all elections) (courtesy Kantar Media/CMAG).

32. And because we can’t help ourselves from looking ahead … Democrats would need to pick up 30 Republican-held House seats to take back the chamber in 2016, but only 16 of 247 House Republicans won their elections by less than 10% in 2014. By contrast, in 2010, 42 of 242 House Republicans won by less than 10%.

33. Republicans now have 31 governorships, which is the most they have held since 1998.

34. Democrats now have 18 governorships, which is the least they have held since 1999.

35. Four incumbent Governors were defeated for re-election in 2014; Republicans Govs. Tom Corbett (PA) and Sean Parnell (AK), and Democratic Govs. Pat Quinn (IL) and Neil Abercrombie (HI). The last time four or more incumbent Governors lost re-election was 2002.

36. In 2014 governors’ races, Democratic and Republican advertisers both emphasized budget/government spending and taxes as their #2 and #3 most-mentioned issues in broadcast TV spots, but Democrats made education #1 (by a hair) while Republicans championed jobs (courtesy Kantar Media/CMAG).

37. Republicans won 320 seats in state legislatures across the country in 2014, giving them 56.5% of all state legislative seats. This is the most the GOP has held since 1928 (courtesy NCSL.org).

38. Republicans now control 69 of 99 state legislative chambers. They control both chambers in 30 states, and control the legislature and the Governor’s office in 23 states.

39. Democrats have majorities in both legislative chambers in just 11 states; the fewest in 150 years (courtesy NCSL.org).

40. Finally, because the 2016 election is just 690 short days away … Hillary Clinton is much better positioned two years out from the 2016 election than she was two years out from the 2008 campaign. A Washington Post/ABC poll of Democratic voters taken in December of 2006 found her leading the field with just 39 percent of the vote. The most recent McClatchy/Marist poll showed her ahead of the pack with a whopping 62% of the vote.

Speaker John Boehner

After Second Attorney Quits John Boehner Can’t Find A Lawyer Who Will Sue Obama



For the second time in two months, a law firm has dumped Speaker of the House John Boehner and refused to represent House Republicans in their lawsuit against President Obama.

Politico reported,

Attorney Bill Burck and the Quinn Emanuel firm halted preparations for the proposed suit in recent weeks, according to two sources familiar with the situation. Last month, the lawyer originally hired to pursue the case, David Rivkin of Baker Hostetler, made a similar abrupt exit.

A spokesman for Boehner declined to discuss the status of the House’s relationship with Burck and Quinn Emanuel. However, spokesman Kevin Smith said Wednesday evening that House leaders are considering having the lawsuit filed by lawyers already on the House payroll.

In other words, Boehner can’t find an outside attorney, so they are going to force the attorneys that are already on the House payroll to file the lawsuit.

Democratic Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) responded the news that another Boehner lawyer has quit, “Speaker Boehner cannot find a single lawyer in the entire country – even at $500 dollars an hour in taxpayer money – to file a lawsuit that is so totally devoid of any legal merit.”

The lawsuit is bogus that House Republicans can’t find decent legal representation for $500 an hour. There are lots of terrible lawyers who would be willing to file the lawsuit for that kind of money, but no law firm who values their reputation will touch it.

Any private law firm that would represent the House Republicans would be destroying their credibility. The lawsuit against the president has absolutely no legal merit, and Republicans may not be able to find a court that is willing to hear it. Even if House Republicans can find a court willing to hear it, the lawsuit is expected to be laughed out of court.

Instead of wasting taxpayer money on an outside firm, House Republicans will waste the time of those who are being paid by the taxpayers by forcing them to work on their lawsuit against President Obama.

The reason Boehner’s lawsuit hasn’t been filed is that he can’t find a law firm that is willing to take the case. Much like everything else that the House Republicans touch, Boehner’s lawsuit against Obama was full of talk, but completely lacking in action.

U.S. Politics

10 things you need to know today: July 31, 2014

Health workers treat an Ebola patient.
Health workers treat an Ebola patient. (AP Photo/Samaritan’s Purse)

The Week

House Republicans vote to sue Obama, the Peace Corps leaves West Africa over Ebola outbreak, and more

1. House GOP approves lawsuit against Obama
House Republicans voted Wednesday to authorize Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to file a lawsuitagainst President Obama for allegedly abusing his power with executive actions, including delaying parts of his signature health-care law. “This isn’t about Republicans and Democrats, it’s about defending the Constitution that we swore an oath to uphold,” Boehner said. Obama called the move a “political stunt.” [The Washington Post]


2. Peace Corps volunteers leave West Africa as Ebola spreads
The Peace Corps announced Wednesday that it was pulling its 340 volunteers from Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea because of an Ebola outbreak that has killed 456 people in West Africa. The World Health Organization has confirmed more than 800 cases, although there could be as many as 1,200. “This epidemic is without precedent,” said Bart Janssens, director of operations for Doctors Without Borders. [CNN]


3. Second quarter economic growth jumps to four percent
The economy grew by an unexpectedly strong four percent annual rate this spring, according to government data released Wednesday. The rebound was fueled by robust spending by consumers and businesses rebuilding their inventories. The numbers marked a stark contrast with the first quarter, when harsh winter weather weighed on growth. [The Washington Post]


4. Russia scoffs at new U.S. and European Union sanctions
Russia reacted defiantly on Wednesday to harsher new economic sanctions imposed by the U.S. and Europe over its support for Ukrainian separatists, saying the measures would only push it to strengthen its economy while worsening its relations with the West. Ukraine welcomed the measures and vowed to continue an offensive against the pro-Russian rebels. [The New York Times]


5. Bank of American fined $1.3 billion over Countrywide loan program
A federal judge in New York on Wednesday ordered Bank of America to pay $1.3 billion in penalties over a mortgage program that Countrywide Financial ran. Insiders referred to the program as “the hustle.” It involved the fast-tracking of mortgage applications from August 2007 through May 2008, ending shortly before Bank of America bought Countrywide, so the parent bank is paying for mistakes made before it took over. [Los Angeles Times]


6. Ex-IRS official said some conservatives were “crazies”
Former Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner referred to conservative talk radio hosts as “crazies” and “a**holes” in emails released Wednesday by House Republicans. The messages were part of a collection of evidence delivered to the Justice Department by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) to support a GOP call for a special counsel to investigate the IRS’ Tea Party-targeting scandal. [Politico]


7. Argentina misses a debt-payment deadline
Argentina defaulted on its debt when it missed a deadline for paying interest on $13 billion of restructured bonds on Wednesday after talks with bondholders failed. It was the second default in 13 years for the South American nation, which has $200 billion in foreign-currency debt, including $30 billion in restructured bonds. The court-appointed mediator in New York said the consequences were uncertain, “but they certainly are not positive.” [Bloomberg News]


8. Economy gains 218,000 private-sector jobs
American companies hired 218,000 workers in July, falling slightly short of projections and the figure for June, according to a survey released Wednesday by private payroll firm ADP. It was the fourth straight month in which the U.S. gained more than 200,000 private jobs. Economist Mark Zandi of Moody’s Analytics said the figures indicated “a steadily improving job market” on target to “return to full employment by late 2016.” [Reuters]


9. Netanyahu says Israel will destroy Hamas tunnels, even with a truce
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday that Israel would destroy all of the tunnels Hamas militants have used to launch attacks in Israel, “with or without a ceasefire.” Israel, which just called up another 16,000 reserves, has dismantled most of the 32 tunnels it has uncovered, and expects to demolish the rest within a few days. Neighboring Arab states, wary of Islamist groups like Hamas, are quietly siding with Israel over the Palestinians. [CBS News, The New York Times]


10. George W. Bush writes his father’s biography
Former president George W. Bush is writing a biography of his father, former president George H.W. Bush, that will be released in November, Crown Publishers told The Associated Press on Wednesday. The book, which does not have a title yet, will cover the elder Bush’s life and influence on his son, from their earliest campaign trips together to the younger Bush’s own two-term presidency. [The Associated Press]

Tax Cuts For The Wealthy

House GOP Lowers Taxes On The Rich


Surprise surprise.  The House GOP, largely incapable of passing any legislation did manageto pass a tax cut on Friday.  Guess who it helps?

You’ve probably heard this story before: House Republicans choose to cut taxes for the rich instead of the poor. On Friday, they did it once again. The House GOP had an opportunity to address an expiring law that would result in a significant tax increase on the poor. Instead, it passed legislation that would cut taxes for high-income Americans. . .

If the House legislation became law, the Center for Budget and Policy Prioritiesestimated that a couple making $160,000 a year would receive a new tax cut of $2,200. On the other hand, the expiring provisions of the {Child Tax Credit} CTC would cause a single mother with two kids making $14,500 to lose her full CTC, worth $1,725. The CBPP projects that 12 million people, including six million children, would either fall into poverty or fall deeper into poverty if Congress does not extend those 2009 changes. Taken together, these changes would be extremely regressive.

Yup, you guessed.

Immigration Reform

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.

Immigration Reform

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.

Benghazi · Obamacare

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.