At Politico’s Playbook breakfast this week, Ted Cruz offered some of his usual sage observations on Republican policy and politics:
I think 2014 is poised to be a very, very strong Republican year. I think if the election were held today, Republicans would take the Senate. … I think it is a possibility that it is an election year on the order of the magnitude of 2010.
He warned, however, that the one thing that could derail a GOP victory this year is passing immigration reform, saying that:
If the House went down the road of passing a massive amnesty program, that could screw up the election.
And there you have it, House Republicans. Ted Cruz doesn’t want you to pass immigration reform, and if Ted Cruz says it, it must be good advice. Unless he’s trying to force counterproductive votes on the debt ceiling. Or filibustering his way off the fiscal cliff. Or forcing members of his own party toward an ideological extreme. Actually, maybe Ted Cruz’s support of something is indication that it’s not good advice.
Other Republican thought leaders and commentators, contrary to Cruz, argue that 2014 is the perfect time to pass immigration reform. The GOP can still whip up its base with their obsession about Obamacare. And they desperately need something to offer Latino voters before 2016. That vote for Steve King’s amendment to deport DREAMers — to this date the only immigration vote that the House has taken — certainly isn’t going to cut it.
According to The Week, Ted Cruz is hoping for continued inaction on immigration reform so that he can use the issue as a cudgel against his opponents in the presidential primary. This is exactly the plot that Greg Sargent and others say would lead to a “nightmare scenario” for Republicans and immigration reform. Ted Cruz talking immigration during the primaries would surely polarize the issue, ala 2012 when Rick Perry was beaten down for showing compassion toward immigrants and Mitt Romney championed self-deportation (a move he regrets now). Which is sure to pave the way for another White House shutout for the GOP.
Cruz might believe that this year’s election looks like 2010 for the Republicans. But he seems to forget that immigration politics actually saved the Senate for the Ds that year and cost the Republicans full control. No matter what happens now in 2014, with a different Senate map and gerrymandered House districts, this may be the GOP swan song. Because 2016 — and 2020, and 2024, and every presidential election year thereafter — is going to look a lot more like 2012 than 2014.