Republicans will cave, the White House will win, the government will re-open, and the debt ceiling will be raised. These things are going to happen, just before or soon after the government hits its borrowing limit — and at that point, President Obama faces a decision.
Do I leverage my victory into a budget deal, eliminating both a long-term national threat and the main source of partisan bickering?
Or do I rub salt into the GOP’s self-inflicted wounds in the distant hope of winning the House in 2014?
Govern or campaign? Unite or divide? Lead or lay into the GOP?
Obama’s choice may be revealed in the way he approaches immigration reform, which he curiously declared Tuesday to be his top priority after the fiscal crisis.
“Once that’s done, you know, the day after, I’m going to be pushing to say, call a vote on immigration reform,” Obama told the Los Angeles affiliate of Spanish-language television network Univision.
It’s an interesting choice, given the national debt is an existential national problem and the crux of the role-of-government debate that has tied Washington in knots for years. Does Obama really think immigration is a more serious problem? Or is it merely the best political issue for Democrats?
It is tempting to assume the worse, especially as Obama is modeling his immigration message on his fiscal-crisis talking points. Blaming House Speaker John Boehner for preventing immigration from coming up for a vote in the past, Obama said, “The only thing right now that’s holding it back is, again, Speaker Boehner not willing to call the bill on the floor of the House of Representatives.”
Make no mistake, Republicans are on the wrong side of the immigration debate, as measured by the 2012 election results and the nation’s shifting demography. The GOP also engineered the fiscal crisis, and Boehner is a tragically weak speaker.
But most voters would be disappointed if they learn that their president has abandoned governance and the hard work of dealing with a fractured GOP to engage in an all-or-nothing bid for the House. While the White House and Congress stumble to an agreement, the great unknown is Obama’s second act. Will he be more presidential than political? Or will raw politics define his presidency?
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"House Republicans are circulating the text of an amendment to their ObamaCare replacement bill that they believe could bring many conservatives on board. According to legislative text of the amendment," drafted by Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ), "the measure would allow states to apply for waivers to repeal one of ObamaCare’s core protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Conservatives argue the provision drives up premiums for healthy people, but Democrats—and many more moderate Republicans—warn it would spark a return to the days when insurance companies could charge sick people exorbitantly high premiums."
President Trump on Wednesday "will order a review of national monuments created over the past 20 years with an aim toward rescinding or resizing some of them—part of a broader push to reopen areas to drilling, mining, and other development." Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told reporters on Tuesday said he'd be reviewing about 30 monuments.
"An emerging government funding deal would see Democrats agree to $15 billion in additional military funding in exchange for the GOP agreeing to fund healthcare subsidies, according to two congressional officials briefed on the talks. Facing a Friday deadline to pass a spending bill and avert a shutdown, Democrats are willing to go halfway to President Trump’s initial request of $30 billion in supplemental military funding."
The Michael Flynn story is not going away for the White House as it tries to refocus its attention. The White House has denied requests from the House Oversight Committee for information and documents regarding payments that the former national security adviser received from Russian state television station RT and Russian firms. House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz and ranking member Elijah Cummings also said that Flynn failed to report these payments on his security clearance application. White House legislative director Marc Short argued that the documents requested are either not in the possession of the White House or contain sensitive information he believes is not applicable to the committee's stated investigation.