According to the Washington Post, the Obama administration is hopeful that the recent budget deal will change the tone in Congress and pave the way for the President’s agenda to move forward. The key element of that agenda is amnesty-based immigration reform. Other elements include raising the minimum wage, spending money on “infrastructure,” and funding early childhood education.
Is the administration’s hopefulness delusional? It should be.
The budget deal sailed through Congress not because a new Era of Good Feeling has dawned, but because Republicans wanted to avoid another government shutdown. Having just swallowed more spending than they desire, Republicans aren’t likely to embrace new spending on infrastructure or education. And having witnessed the Obamacare train wreck, they should be unwilling to take seriously the bureaucracy-reliant promises that underlie comprehensive immigration reform.
Indeed, any opposition party worth its salt would be less willing than before to make deals with Obama in 2014. For one thing, Obama’s popularity is at an all-time low. He’s weaker than ever, so why bail him out?
Moreover, given the Democrats’ hyper-partisan conduct, Republican resolve to block Obama’s agenda should be stronger quite apart from the president’s low standing. Obama has been quite content to legislate without any Republican support. In fact, he has bypassed Congress altogether whenever he thought he could do so through executive orders. And Harry Reid has changed the Senate rules to cut Republicans out of the confirmation process.
Republicans should punish, rather than reward, these successful attempts to marginalize them.
Unfortunately, it’s not clear that Republicans are worth their salt. “Boy scouts” like Paul Ryan and (until recently) Marco Rubio itch to reach across the aisle, as if those who reside there are other than ruthless, lawless, power-grabbing ideologues.
They don’t call Republicans “the stupid party” for nothing.
Even those who want to reach deals with Democrats should wait until after the 2014 elections. If anything, Republicans are likely to be in a stronger bargaining position by then, and thus able to reach better deals.
But for too many influential Republican legislators, the quality of the deal seems less important than the act of brokering it.