Remember when immigration reform was something that people thought would happen this fall? It will be difficult to pass before the legislative calendar is up thanks to a short session in Congress packed with maddening, time-sensitive fiscal fights.
Immigration legislation, energy reforms, and foreign policy goals are just a few of the lofty efforts that have been sidelined as Congress continues to quibble over six-plus weeks of funding and several hundred thousand federal employees wait furloughed on the sidelines. Now, with House Speaker John Boehner saying there will no debt-limit increase and no end to the partial government shutdown unless President Obama negotiates with House Republicans, and Obama demanding Republicans raise the debt ceiling and avoid default without conditions, the situation may be about to get a whole lot worse.
Where did things go wrong? Last week, during a standard appearance at a construction site in Rockville, Md., Obama suggested that a series of short-term federal funding battles are interfering with the larger task of governing: “House Republicans need to stop careening from one crisis to another in everything they do,” he said. “Have you noticed that? Since they’ve taken over the House of Representatives, we have one of these crises every three months.”
The policy costs of these short-term funding battles were apparent Thursday when, amid the political turmoil engendered by the government shutdown, Obama announced that his upcoming trip to Asia had been called off and that Secretary of State John Kerry would travel in his place. The trip, as National Journal‘s George Condon noted recently, was central to the president’s desire to do big things in foreign policy in his second term.
The latest trip cancellation “would leave a big geopolitical mark” in Asia, where local leaders are already questioning U.S. commitment to the area, Ernest Bower of the Pacific Partners Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies told The Washington Post.
“Political reality may dictate that President Obama cannot travel to Asia in October,” he wrote in recent op-ed just ahead of the president’s decision to abort the trip. “If so, the United States will need to recover its position over time, but the damage will have been done.”
The president faces setbacks in other areas as well. Immigration reform is expected to be difficult to pass before the end of the legislative year as Congress continues to bicker over short-term funding. What’s more, the U.S. is set to hit the debt ceiling Oct. 17, which will require further congressional action to stave off an economically disastrous default. That’s all bad news for immigration-reform advocates, since the longer reform is delayed the less likely it is that anything will pass.
“Time is our enemy,” Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., who’s crafting his own immigration legislation in the House, said on NBC Latino. “If we don’t get it done this year, it gets more difficult.”
Congress’s squabbling is having an effect other places, too. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the shutdown could delay the implementation of the Obama administration’s tightened standards for new power plants. Per National Journal‘s Alex Brown: “The forced cutback of employees, the agency said in an email, would delay the rules’ publication in the Federal Register, which in turn would set back the 60-day comment period and required public hearing before the implementation of new regulations.”
What area of policy will suffer next?
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Foreign Policy takes a look at the future of mining the estimated "100,000 near-Earth objects—including asteroids and comets—in the neighborhood of our planet. Some of these NEOs, as they’re called, are small. Others are substantial and potentially packed full of water and various important minerals, such as nickel, cobalt, and iron. One day, advocates believe, those objects will be tapped by variations on the equipment used in the coal mines of Kentucky or in the diamond mines of Africa. And for immense gain: According to industry experts, the contents of a single asteroid could be worth trillions of dollars." But the technology to get us there is only the first step. Experts say "a multinational body might emerge" to manage rights to NEOs, as well as a body of law, including an international court.
Not to be outdone by Jeffrey Goldberg's recent piece in The Atlantic about President Obama's foreign policy, the New York Times Magazine checks in with a longread on the president's economic legacy. In it, Obama is cognizant that the economic reality--73 straight months of growth--isn't matched by public perceptions. Some of that, he says, is due to a constant drumbeat from the right that "that denies any progress." But he also accepts some blame himself. “I mean, the truth of the matter is that if we had been able to more effectively communicate all the steps we had taken to the swing voter,” he said, “then we might have maintained a majority in the House or the Senate.”
Ronald Reagan's children and political allies took to the media and Twitter this week to chide funnyman Will Ferrell for his plans to play a dementia-addled Reagan in his second term in a new comedy entitled Reagan. In an open letter, Reagan's daughter Patti Davis tells Ferrell, who's also a producer on the movie, “Perhaps for your comedy you would like to visit some dementia facilities. I have—I didn’t find anything comedic there, and my hope would be that if you’re a decent human being, you wouldn’t either.” Michael Reagan, the president's son, tweeted, "What an Outrag....Alzheimers is not joke...It kills..You should be ashamed all of you." And former Rep. Joe Walsh called it an example of "Hollywood taking a shot at conservatives again."
In a sign that she’s ready to put a longer-than-expected primary battle behind her, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) is no longer going on the air in upcoming primary states. “Team Clinton hasn’t spent a single cent in … California, Indiana, Kentucky, Oregon and West Virginia, while” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) “campaign has spent a little more than $1 million in those same states.” Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sanders’ "lone backer in the Senate, said the candidate should end his presidential campaign if he’s losing to Hillary Clinton after the primary season concludes in June, breaking sharply with the candidate who is vowing to take his insurgent bid to the party convention in Philadelphia.”
The team behind the bestselling "Clinton Cash"—author Peter Schweizer and Breitbart's Stephen Bannon—is turning the book into a movie that will have its U.S. premiere just before the Democratic National Convention this summer. The film will get its global debut "next month in Cannes, France, during the Cannes Film Festival. (The movie is not a part of the festival, but will be shown at a screening arranged for distributors)." Bloomberg has a trailer up, pointing out that it's "less Ken Burns than Jerry Bruckheimer, featuring blood-drenched money, radical madrassas, and ominous footage of the Clintons."