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February 06, 2014 4:18 PM Sorry, No Legislation Because We Don’t Like Obama

By Ed Kilgore

The latest excuse for Republican inaction on immigration reform that all GOP factions seem to be promoting is that you can’t trust Barack Obama to implement it properly or, for that matter, obey the law at all. Brother Benen has a good analysis today of why that argument is so satisfying for Republicans, even though it’s hardly persuasive to anyone else:

[T]he GOP desperately hopes to convince the American mainstream that the president is an out-of-control, “lawless” radical. It’s not true - Obama’s actually a fairly moderate technocrat - but the manufactured narrative has become a convenient way for Republicans to raise money, rile up the base, and kill popular legislation.
Second, as a policy matter, it’s possible GOP lawmakers hope to use this excuse to tilt the policy playing field in their favor. As Greg Sargent noted on Monday, Republicans may very well insist that increased border security begin well in advance of any other part of immigration reform, insisting that it’s the only way for Obama to prove his “trustworthiness.” In other words, the legislation would give Republicans everything they want, with the understanding that other provisions could come later, once GOP lawmakers are satisfied the president isn’t a big liar.
And finally, let’s not lose sight of the blame game. Congressional Republicans, who have zero major legislative accomplishments since the 2010 midterms, are prepared to kill a popular, bipartisan immigration-reform effort that’s been endorsed by business leaders, labor leaders, economists, immigration advocates, and the faith community. If they refuse to pass legislation, as now appears likely, GOP leaders will need an extraordinary excuse to justify failure on this level.
According to Boehner, Cantor, and Ryan, that excuse effectively boils down to this: “Republicans don’t like Obama.”

Bad as it is, this excuse is less shame-making than “We’re afraid of our own party base.”

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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