Immigration And Shutdowns – Right Things vs. Wrong Things

Dave Johnson

Shutdown talk? Already?

Republicans don’t even take over the Senate until January, but already they’re talking about shutting down the government. This time it’s over the President’s effort to provide some relief for the millions of families and thousands of communities being harmed by a broken immigration system. Last time it was in an effort to stop Obamacare from helping millions of families.

Their shutdowns are about obstruction and political strategy, not about what is good for the country and the people in it.

Right Things vs. Wrong Things

Helping millions of families is the right thing to do.

Millions of families are being hurt by our broken immigration system. Republicans as a party now refuse to participate at all in fixing that system. In 2013 the Senate passed an immigration reform bill that was full of compromises. The House refused to allow a vote on a bill – because it would pass. (House Republican leaders won’t allow votes on bill that Democrats and Republicans would support and pass, unless a majority of Republicans would vote for it.) And now many of the same Senate Republicans that supported and voted for the Senate bill are denouncing it.

So the president is (apparently) going to do what presidents Reagan and the first Bush did. He is going to act on his own and use an executive order to give relief to millions of families being hurt by our broken immigration system.

Fixing the broken immigration system – thereby providing relief to millions of families – is the right thing to do. (Ask the Pope and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Also see The Alliance for Citizenship.)

Obstruction Hurts The Country

Obstructing and shutting down the government is the wrong thing to do.

Republicans obstructed when they were in the minority. In the Senate they filibustered more than 400 times. They filibustered so many times that the media reported that it is “normal” to need 60 votes to pass any bill – instead of reporting that filibusters were taking place. In the House, Republican leadership refused to allow a vote on bills that would pass, unless they would pass with a majority of Republicans in favor.

Obstruction was a brilliant and effective political strategy. They understood that a poorly informed public would blame and punish the president and the president’s party when people did not feel their lives getting better.

It was effective and brilliant. They won.

But their obstruction strategy hurt the country. After 2010, Republicans blocked every single effort to help the economy and bring jobs to people. Even though the initial stimulus program turned around the death spiral of job loss – we were losing 850,000 jobs a month before the stimulus, gaining 100,000-200,000 a month after it – they blocked all efforts at further stimulus. They blocked bills to change tax laws and discourage companies from “offshoring” jobs. They blocked bills to encourage companies to bring jobs back to the U.S. They blocked bills to provide relief to crushing student loan debt. They blocked bills to provide relief to the long-term unemployed and took away their benefits. They blocked bills to ensure women get equal pay for the same work as men. They blocked bills to put teachers and first responders back to work.

They even blocked basic infrastructure maintenance – never mind modernization. At a time when millions needed work and the country has so much work that needs to be done Republicans refused to let the country do basic maintenance of its crumbling infrastructure!

And this is just a sample of what they blocked with more than 400 filibusters.

And then there was the hostage-taking over the debt ceiling, the forced austerity of the “sequester” – even including cuts in the budgets of agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and National Institutes of Health that fight epidemics like Ebola.

In the states, Republican obstruction of the new health care law is hurting millions of families by denying the Medicaid expansion to their citizens.

Not only does all of this obstruction and downright sabotage hurt our economy and our people, it dramatically hurts our politics and our democracy. People have became demoralized (“how’s that hopey-changey thing working out for ya?”) and tuned out. An indicator of this loss of hope is that we just had the lowest election turnout in 72 years. (Republicans, of course, see that as a good thing.)

Look at what that all says. Hurting the country was a brilliant political strategy. It won them an election. But it hurt the country.

And now they’re talking about doubling down and shutting down the government again.

More Shutdowns

The sentiment of the government-hating “Republican base” is to shut down the government again.

RedState is a very influential website among those who consider themselves the Republican “base.” Look at RedState’s website and email headline Tuesday: “Shut. It. Down.” RedState’s Erick Erickson writes:

In fact, this is the second shut down where the GOP got blamed and saw no catastrophe at the ballot box. Again, after the shutdown the Clinton years, the GOP picked up Senate seats.

[. . .] So set the course. Defund Obamacare and block amnesty. Obama can defy the will of the people and refuse to work with Congress. Sure, the GOP may get blamed. But so what?

And that is key here — so what. They got blamed last time and the public rewarded them with the biggest election wave in modern American political history from the local level to the federal level.

Needless to say, Rush Limbaugh is very influential among the Republican base. On his show Rush Limbaugh told the base, “Republicans were not elected to govern.”

It is rare that a political party running for office in a midterm election not standing for anything ends up with a mandate, and they have one, and it is the biggest and perhaps the most important mandate a political party has had in the recent era, and it is very simple what that mandate is. It is to stop Barack Obama. It is to stop the Democrats. There is no other reason why Republicans were elected yesterday. Republicans were not elected to govern.

… The Republican Party was not elected to fix a broken system or to make it work. The Republican Party was not elected to compromise. The Republican Party was not elected to sit down and work together with the Democrats. The Republican Party was not elected to slow down the speed the country is headed to the cliff and go over it slowly.

The Republican Party was elected to stop before we get to the cliff. And that’s the mandate: to stop Obamacare; to stop amnesty; to stop the open borders policy of Obama and the Democrats; to stop the Big Government assault on the free enterprise economy; to stop national security policies that have allowed terrorist networks all over the world to pop up and fill a vacuum created by the absence of the world’s lone superpower on the world stage. That must be stopped.

Speaker of the House John Boehner, “Boehner declines to rule out government shutdown fight on immigration“:

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday declined to rule out withholding funds to try to block President Barack Obama from taking unilateral action to ease U.S. immigration policies, a move that could lead to another government shutdown fight.

Boehner, speaking to reporters after House Republicans voted to keep him as speaker for another two years, said “all options are on the table” to thwart an Obama immigration order but no decisions had been made.

“We are going to fight the president tooth and nail if he continues down this path,” Boehner said. “So all of the options are on the table.”

So here it goes again. Because President Obama is trying to do the right things to help millions of families, the Republicans are threatening to again shut down our government to spite their face, which would hurt all of us.

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