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The shutdown is over, the debt ceiling has been negotiated through next year, and it’s the perfect time to take on an issue that 88% of Americans want passed into law: immigration reform with a path to citizenship.
Some Republicans however, most notably Raul Labrador, are already resisting such a pivot, on the logic that since Obama won the fiscal negotiations, he shouldn’t get to win on immigration. As Labrador said this week, “it would be crazy” for House Republicans now to negotiate with the president on immigration, because Obama is “trying to destroy the Republican Party.”
Rep. Labrador, Republicans don’t need any help destroying the Republican Party; they’re doing a perfectly good job by themselves. It’s not Obama who needs immigration reform to pass–some Democrats would probably love to have immigration around to run on as an issue in 2014. It’s Republicans who need immigration, to help prove that they can govern, to show that they are capable of productive legislation, to demonstrate to Latinos that the GOP doesn’t, well, hate them. The GOP might be beyond saving if they think that doubling down on their fiscal failure with a failure to embrace immigration reform is a good idea.
A number of commentators are making the same point. Here’s Greg Sargent at the Plum Line:
[Labrador’s claim is a] terribly stupid lesson to take from what just happened. Republicans didn’t lose the shutdown fight because Obama is trying to destroy their party. They lost it because the Tea Party fantasy outcome was never going to happen. It was rooted in a deeply unhinged view of how governing should work that Dems were never, ever, ever going to accept. It took GOP leaders too long to accept this and act accordingly.
And so, with polls showing the GOP brand has cratered, the focus should come back to a reality-based assessment of whether Republicans think they need to show they can govern again.
Ezra Klein at Wonkblog agrees that Republicans are their own worst enemy:
The irony is that if you talk to White House officials, their belief has long been that immigration reform might be possible precisely because it would help the Republican Party politically and because the Senate was able to craft a bill that conservatives like Marco Rubio found ideologically congenial. They’ve even tried to keep Obama distant from the process so the Senate Republicans who participated would get much of the credit. If the price of immigration reform is a more competitive Republican Party in 2016, it’s a price the White House is happy to pay.
But that’s the irony of the GOP right now: They’re so scared that Obama is trying to destroy them that they’re destroying themselves.
Here’s Jed Lewison at Daily Kos on how immigration reform is a way for the GOP to get out of their mess:
So, according to Labrador, it would be insane for Republicans to work with President Obama on immigration because Obama is trying to destroy the GOP. Sure, supporting immigration reform is obviously in the GOP’s long-term political interests (not to mention the right thing to do from a moral perspective), but Obama is trying to destroy the GOP, so therefore the GOP shouldn’t work with him, even though refusing to work with him will hurt them politically, and even though Labrador himself says he believes immigration reform is both necessary and the right thing to do.
All sarcasm aside, Labrador’s position is completely nuts. Obama isn’t trying to destroy the GOP. Time and time again, he’s offered them a way out of their mess. Time and time again, they’ve refused to accept his offers. And time and time again, they’ve proved they don’t need any help destroying the GOP brand: They’re doing a pretty good job of it all by themselves.
La Opinión thinks that if that Republicans need to get out of the way if they can’t be part of the solution:
An influential wing of the Republicans should understand that comprehensive reform will bring more benefits than disadvantages to the country. That this bill is not something to curry favor with Latinos or a special Democratic bill—but that it contributes, particularly to the economy.
The bill the Senate passed makes it clear that it is in the national interest to have immigration reform. That bill is already in the House. If the Republicans can’t come to an agreement on their own comprehensive immigration reform bill, they must at least allow for a vote on the Senate’s proposal. If they don’t want to participate in a positive manner, they should not get in the way.
And finally, Steve Benen points out that the Republican refusal to govern has really stuck them in a corner. How are they going to save themselves, if not for immigration?
I’m trying to imagine the message a year from now: “We shut down the government, we used the debt ceiling as a weapon, we killed immigration reform, we ignored efforts to reduce gun violence, we never even considered the possibility of a jobs bill, we tackled some culture-war bills that no one beyond our base cares about, we voted to take away Americans’ health care benefits 46 times, and we demanded unpopular cuts to Social Security and Medicare in exchange for nothing. Two more years!”
After the Republican shutdowns in the mid-90s, GOP lawmakers were desperate to pass some big-ticket legislation so they’d have some accomplishments to run on. If immigration is suddenly no longer an option for Republicans, how do they intend to spend the next year?…Are GOP lawmakers convinced that another do-nothing Congress is in their own best interests?