Debt Limit ? Immigration

Posted: Feb 13, 2014 12:01 AM
 Debt Limit ? Immigration

Earlier this week Speaker John Boehner avoided a showdown on the debt limit through the simple maneuver of getting 193 Democrats to join 28 Republicans to pass the legislation taking the debt limit off the table until March of next year.

The Washington Post's discussion of the whole thing called the 221-201 tally "a narrow vote" forgetting, perhaps, that the infamous vote to approve Obamacare cleared the House by an overwhelming 219-212. Seven votes.

199 Republicans voted against the debt limit bill - although I suspect there were several sitting on the edge of their pew waiting to see if their "Aye" vote would be needed.

"Why," you may be asking, "would the House Ds help Speaker Boehner get this done?"

Because the Treasury Department - a part of the Executive Branch - would be responsible for trying to untangle the mess if the debt ceiling had been reached. The Executive Branch belongs to President Barack Obama. Barack Obama doesn't need any more bad news, right now.

From Boehner's standpoint he remembers well the slings and arrows aimed at Congressional Republicans when they shut the government down last Fall. It was only the total collapse of the Obamacare website that moved the spotlight off the evil Republicans and onto the inept Democrats.

Boehner saw no reason to take that light off the cascading problems that Obamacare is raining down upon Ds up for election in a little over eight months, so he brought the bill to the floor, got enough Republican votes to join the 199 Democrats to adopt it, and he can move along.

Last week's shouting match over whether the CBO report said that Obamacare would cost 2.3 million jobs or that 2.3 million people would stop working was, for most Americans, a difference without a distinction.

Even if you buy the Administration's view, allowing over 2 million people to simply sit at home so they can get health insurance was a head-scratcher for most of us.

"So," you might ask yourself, "will Boehner and Pelosi do the same Bill Adoption Tango on immigration?"

Not likely.

The difference is, as much as Mrs. Pelosi and, presumably Mr. Obama, would like to get something on the books dealing with immigration as a policy issue, there is no good political reason to bail Republicans out on this one.

An immigration bill - no matter how flawed - would be seen as Republicans reaching out to Latinos as opposed to continuing to dig a wider divide.

As the focus on the mid-term elections begins to sharpen, helping Republicans, especially those running for Senate in Democrat-held seats, gain even a few votes among Hispanics is not something Congressional Ds have at the top of their to-do lists.

As he tries to preserve the Democratic majority in the Senate, it is in Harry Reid's interests not to have an immigration bill prior to the mid-terms and have his candidates blame it on Republicans.

I understand that this is not just inside baseball. It is inside the factory where they make the baseballs.

But, as my debate partner, Anita Dunn, said here in Dallas to the group we were speaking to about what goes on in Congress: Sometimes it's policy; sometimes it's politics; sometimes it's principal. But, it is rarely all three.

The debt ceiling has been repainted for another year; but don't look for an Era of Good Feeling to wash over the Capitol.