Taking (Executive) Action: GOP’s Leadership Failure Leave Immigration Up To Obama

In a press conference following the midterm elections, President Obama reaffirmed his intention to use executive action to begin tackling our nation’s immigration problem. New media reports shed light on private negotiations on immigration reform between President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner that began soon after the 2012 election. Speaker Boehner was likely feeling the pressure after a Republican National Committee-commissioned “autopsy report” of their electoral losses declared their party “must embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform” in order to win future elections.

As the year-long negotiations progressed, Speaker Boehner needed political cover to maneuver within his party, prompting President Obama to continue to compromise in pursuit of House support for the already-passed bipartisan Senate immigration bill:

  1. No public criticism of Republicans members on immigration policy
  2. No trips in 2013 to battleground states with large Hispanic populations
  3. Back piecemeal reforms rather than one big bill overhauling immigration policy
  4. Defer executive action until after the summer

After what seemed to be a good faith effort by both sides, Speaker Boehner, yet again, just couldn’t deliver the votes, particularly from the extreme Tea Party members of his caucus. To further impede the process, the Republicans apparently reversed course on the necessity of immigration reforms after their recent electoral gains. When Speaker Boehner and future Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell released outlines of their upcoming legislative agendas, immigration reform wasn’t included. Similarly, even Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, backed away from the idea of compromise.

Read more after the jump.

American Bridge Releases Report On House Republicans’ Dishonest Attacks Over Executive Actions

Throughout the Obama presidency, House Republicans have consistently blockaded progress on crucial issues, only to blame inaction on the president. Then, when the president takes executive action, they accuse him of unprecedented lawlessness, culminating with their latest combo-stunt: a ludicrous lawsuit and talk of impeachment.

There’s only one problem: President Obama’s actions, necessitated by a recalcitrant House, are both precedented and lawful. Indeed Obama has issued executive orders at a slower rate than any president since Grover Cleveland. Ronald Reagan used executive action to ease immigration standards for Nicaraguan exiles, George H. W. Bush to delay the deportation of Kuwaitis during the Iraqi occupation, George W. Bush to protect Salvadorans after an earthquake, and the list goes on. The only thing that is unprecedented is the inefficiency of this Congress, which is on track to be the least productive in history.

In a new report today, Bridge Project exposes the absurdity of the attacks on President Obama’s executive actions. As Republicans continue to use inflammatory rhetoric to portray the president as an out-of-control tyrant, reality paints an entirely different picture.

Read more after the jump.

GOP Union: Rep. McMorris Rodgers In Lockstep With Tea Party’s Sen. Lee

Hoping to break the trend of awkward or forgettable State of the Union responses, Republicans have selected Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers to counter President Obama’s annual address tonight.

As a top lieutenant to Speaker John Boehner who generally steers clear of controversy, McMorris Rodgers could seem like a logical choice to try and represent the more welcoming GOP that party leaders called for after the 2012 election. However, a brief review of her record indicates that McMorris Rodgers is no less extreme than many of her Tea Party colleagues. In fact, on several key issues, McMorris Rodgers is closely aligned with Tea Party responder Sen. Mike Lee.

Both McMorris Rodgers and Lee oppose increases in the minimum wage, support deep cuts to food stamps, and have voted against unemployment benefits. McMorris Rodgers has opposed equal pay for women and supported several attempts to restrict women’s health care choices – including notorious legislation that would have redefined rape as “forcible rape” – while Lee believes the Violence Against Women Act is unconstitutional.

Read more after the jump.

Rubio Left Thirsting For New Ideas On Poverty

Following a disastrous 2012 election cycle in which Mitt Romney infamously described 47 percent of voters as “dependent upon the government,” Republican leaders set out to make their party more appealing – or at least less insulting – to middle-class and working Americans.

Just weeks after the election, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) gave a speech on “middle-class opportunity” that was hailed as a sign of shifting conservative priorities and a more compassionate Republican Party. However, Rubio’s message did not translate into action, as he and his party spent the next year opposing middle-class tax cuts, pushing massive cuts to the safety net, and even shutting down the government in a futile attempt to undermine access to affordable health insurance.

Meanwhile, Rubio endorsed comprehensive immigration reform but failed to sell conservatives on a bipartisan bill and, after damaging his standing on the right, eventually dialed back his support. That failed leadership led one major Florida newspaper to dub Rubio the “political loser” of 2013, so it’s no surprise to see the senator delivering yet another highly publicized speech to give his image a boost.

It is almost unfathomable that Rubio is giving a speech on poverty just a day after voting against unemployment benefits. But his refusal to help the unemployed is actually emblematic of conservatives’ empty rhetoric on poverty. Until Rubio and the Republicans come up with any actual ideas beyond their endless calls for more tax cuts and repealing Obamacare, the real war on poverty in America remains their endless attacks on the middle and working class.

Read more after the jump.

Barriers To Reform: The Anti-Immigrant Policies And Extremist Money Blocking Progress In The House

As supporters of comprehensive immigration reform, Bridge Project commends the Senate for overcoming the political dysfunction that has become typical of Congress to overwhelmingly pass a bipartisan bill. Despite the right-wing naysayers who have been actively working against compromise, the Senate-approved mix of border security measures and a path to citizenship represents an encouraging step forward for immigration policy. Now it is up to the leadership in the House to reject the voices of extremism in their caucus and follow the Senate’s bipartisan path.

In the lower chamber, conservative leaders on the issue have long embraced extreme positions and attempted to score political points at the expense of immigrants. Some representatives are openly hostile to immigration reform and have demonstrated more interest in stoking divisions than moving the country forward.

And a history of support for harsh immigration policies is not the only cause for concern. Several key conservatives have also accepted campaign contributions from anti-immigrant donors, including some with connections to Southern Poverty Law Center-designated hate groups.

Read more after the jump.

Michele Bachmann’s Legacy Lives On

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) has announced that she will not seek another term in the House of Representatives. However, the former presidential candidate’s legacy of extreme statements, paranoid conspiracy theories, and ideological witch hunts will live on through the right-wing members of Congress who will continue to champion her views.

Anti-American Conspiracies

Bachmann Called For A Media Investigation Into Whether Members Of Congress Are “Pro-America Or Anti-America.” During an interview on MSNBC’s Hardball, Michele Bachmann said, “What I would say — what I would say is that the news media should do a penetrating expose and take a look. I wish they would. I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out, are they pro-America or anti-America? I think people would love to see an expose like that.” [MSNBC, Hardball, 10/17/08]

  • Steve King Called Joe McCarthy “A Hero” And Said He Would Support Something “Along the Lines Of the House Un-American Activities Committee.” In an interview with Right Side News, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) was asked, whether he would support “resurrection of the Congressional internal security committees along the lines of the House Un-American Activities Committee.” King replied, “I would. Something similar. If we called it the House Un-American Activities Committee, that would be lighting up the history of McCarthy in a way that wouldn’t be necessary, although I am often quoted as saying McCarthy was a hero for America. He was. He was right far more times than he was wrong. It is a historical fact. But I would submit a different committee name so that we don’t have to deal with the history, and move forward. I think that is a good process and I would support it.” [Right Side News, 10/5/10]
Read more after the jump.

Ending Spending Action Fund: “Wrong”

The Ending Spending Action Fund twists congressional candidate Richard Carmona (D-AZ)’s resume against him, accusing him of mismanaging a hospital that was deep in debt before his tenure and of having others pick up his dry cleaning on taxpayer-funded time. But that unsubstantiated allegation is sourced solely to a woman with a history credibility issues who was featured in an ad supporting Carmona’s opponent. The ad also suggests Carmona supports all earmarks, when in reality, Carmona was remarking that not all earmarks are wasteful – some can be useful investments in infrastructure.

Read more after the jump.

American Commitment: “Work Hard”

An ad from American Commitment blames Arizona Senate candidate Richard Carmona for the debts an Arizona health care system and community hospital incurred under Carmona’s leadership. But the ad neglects to mention that the health care system was already $36 million in debt when Carmona was appointed, due largely to a health care market plagued by high numbers of uninsured and underinsured people seeking uncompensated services at the hospital’s emergency room.

Read more after the jump.

Crossroads GPS: “Lovers”

Crossroads GPS says Virginia Senate candidate Tim Kaine “loves taxes,” accusing him of trying to raise taxes on lower-income Americans and attacking him for supporting the Affordable Care Act even though the health care law provides more middle-class tax relief than burden. But the “tax hikes” GPS accuses Kaine of pushing as governor were a 1 percent surcharge that was part of a package of tough cuts seeking to balance Virginia’s recession-ravaged budget. Meanwhile, Kaine isn’t “considering a new tax on those who can least afford it” – he misspoke while indicating his openness to all discussions on taxation, but does not support taxing lower-income citizens.

Read more after the jump.

NumbersUSA: “October 2012 TV Ad”

An ad from anti-immigrant group NumbersUSA suggests that lawmakers’ motivation for granting green cards to immigrants is a belief that “black Americans don’t want to work,” basing this on the false premise that immigrants displace jobs that would otherwise be filled by Americans. But there is little truth to this; immigrants expand the economy by increasing demand, thereby creating new jobs and driving up wages for native workers.

Read more after the jump.