President Obama, The Week's Marc Ambinder reports, is considering announcing a temporary executive amnesty for up to 8 million illegal immigrants sometime around mid-September. The timing, Ambinder reports, is in part designed to provoke Republicans into initiating another government shutdown, which could help Democrats at the polls this November. Ambinder writes:
The Democratic scenario has Republicans underestimating the price of such a move. Indeed, Democratic focus groups consistently show that the most unpopular thing the GOP can do, the one thing that will make people who are too disgusted to vote, vote, or who are capable of changing their vote to change their vote to the other side, is to shut down the government again. It is that unpopular.
So: Go big on immigration. Wait for the GOP counter-reaction. Quietly pray for the government to get shut down. Use it like a cattle prod to wake voters up just before the midterms.
That's the last, best hope for Democrats.
But Republicans seem to be on to Obama's game. And they are making it perfectly clear that there will be no government shutdown before the elections. Roll Call reports:
House Republicans won’t repeat that mistake this September, Ryan predicted: “We will pass a clean [continuing resolution], and if for some reason the Democrats don’t take that, then they will clearly have shut the government down … it will be patently obvious … that they are playing politics with this, and trying to trigger a shutdown so they can blame us, but we’re really blameless in this particular situation.”
Ryan’s confidence that his conference will cooperate in passing a stop-gap spending bill free of controversial policy riders — "until Dec. 11 is what we’re thinking,” said Ryan — contradicts Democrats’ cries over the past few days that the GOP is spoiling for another shutdown that could cost them the election in November.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) aide Alex Conant outlined a similar timeline for The Washington Examiner's Byron York:
Rubio's office says there's nothing to it. "We're not going to shut down the government," spokesman Alex Conant told me. "Ultimately, Republicans will need to win control of the Senate to reverse an executive action. We would be interested in having a vote on it in the context of the budget debate, but we are not going to shut down the government."
So does this mean Republicans will just roll over if Obama grants executive amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants? Not at all. Look at the bolded portions of the Ryan and Conant quotes. Both suggest that Republicans are planing to attach specific language forbidding Obama from spending money administering his new amnesty program, just not before the November election.
And this is the smart strategy to pursue. Republicans have a very good chance of taking control of the Senate this November. And it is much easier to force policy concessions from the White House when you control both the House and Senate as opposed to just the House.
Democrats seem to be realizing that Republicans will not make the same mistake two years in a row, and it is now looking like Obama will wait till after the election before moving on amnesty.