Republicans Take Obama To Court

Nov 21 2014 @ 11:08am

House Republicans just filed their lawsuit against Obama “over unilateral actions on the health care law that they say are abuses of the president’s executive authority.” Michael Lynch and Rachel Surminsky list reasons the lawsuit is likely to fail. Among them:

The courts have made it evident through precedent that they do not want to settle inter-branch disputes that can be remedied through legislative action. Congress has to establish that it cannot stop or remedy executive actions through legislation. Additionally, Congress must show it has made a previous attempt to address the executive action (see Goldwater v. Carter and Kucinich v. Obama). Evidence must be presented that any failures are not simply a result of an inability to overcome political opposition to potentially effective remedies.

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Here’s what Obama did last night:

Ezra requests that Republicans formulate a real response:

Republicans need to decide what to do with the 11 million unauthorized immigrants living in the country now. They need to take away Obama’s single strongest argument — that this is a crisis, and that congressional Republicans don’t have an answer and won’t let anyone else come up with one. …

That, really, is Obama’s advantage right now. Even if you think he’s going too far, he at least wants to solve the problem. Republicans don’t seem to want to do anything except stop Obama from solving the problem. That’s not a winning position. More to the point, it’s not a responsible one.

Bloomberg View’s editors echo:

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Relatively speaking:

Illegal immigrants do not cause exploitative employers to put Americans out of a job. Rather, the toleration of exploitative employers is what creates the demand for illegal immigrants.

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For Jose Antonio Vargas, the executive action Obama took last night was personal:

Of all the questions I get asked as an undocumented immigrant in the United States, there are two—asked in various permutations via email, social media or in person—that chill me to the bone: “Why don’t you just make yourself legal?”

And: “Why don’t you get in the back of the line?”

The questions underscore the depth of misunderstanding about how the immigration process works, and doesn’t work. They imply that, short of self-deportation, there is a process for undocumented people like me to follow, a way to rectify the situation and adjust our status. Just show up at an office, fill out a form, and get in the back of a line. Somewhere. Anywhere.

I’ve gotten asked these questions so many times that I decided to walk viewers through the process—or lack thereof—in a scene in my film “Documented,” where I chronicle a broken and inhumane immigration system that, among other things, has kept my mother and I apart for 21 years. Barring any executive action, I can’t leave the U.S.; there’s no guarantee that I’d be allowed back.

Flavelle also dismantles the Republicans’ moral argument:

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The administration “erroneously” over-counted Obamacare enrollments by “incorrectly adding 380,000 dental subscribers to raise the total above 7 million.” Jonathan Cohn calls the error “inexcusable.” McArdle face palms:

Adding in a bunch of unrelated plans, with all the attendant risk of being exposed and embarrassed, seems flatly insane. In fact, this is the most compelling reason to believe that it was a mistake. If it was a mistake, however, I’m not sure how much better that is supposed to make us feel. For the administration to have this poor a handle on its own data while attempting to make over almost one-fifth of the U.S. economy is a lot more frightening than some rather pedestrian lies.

Jordan Weissmann puts the news in context:

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Young Republicans

It’s significant:

The key question, though, is whether even within the GOP, there is a split between younger and older voters on climate change. Sure enough, our poll suggests that this is the case … What this shows is that age matters above and beyond partisanship in how people think about the climate issue.

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One writes:

Watching Obama last night, I really felt that the quotation from scripture was the most powerful part of his speech. For too long the GOP base has wanted to have it both ways on immigration and Christianity. On the one hand, they consider themselves the true guardians of Christian orthodoxy and scriptural truth. On the other hand, they’re all for the inhumane deportation of human beings and the splitting apart of families. You simply can’t be a “Bible believing” Christian and support mass deportation. A conservative interpretation of scripture doesn’t allow that. I think Obama subtly drove that home with the quotation.

Of course, scripture itself cuts across conservative and liberal politics, which is why we shouldn’t base government policy exclusively on scripture. But the Christianists have been living dangerously picking and choosing from scripture for a long time. Last night, Obama reminded them that two can play that game and revealed the house of cards on which the entire Christianist position has been constructed.

How another puts it:

One president declares war on the wrong country, killing 100,000+, and he’s lauded. The next president allows American children to continue living with their parents and he’s the lawless one?

Wait, what are family values again?

And another questions the party’s supposed conservatism:

Can you imagine anyone shutting down the government or impeaching a president over such a limited, reasonable, small-c conservative plan as Obama announced last night?

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The speech in full (transcript here):

Chris Cillizza thought the speech “fit more neatly into the Obama of the 2008 campaign and the first term of his presidency — heavy on inspiration and imagery, relatively light on details and depth”:

It’s the sort of address Obama is both best at and most comfortable giving. The idea of what makes America America — particularly in the face of the unique challenges that the 21st century poses for the country on the domestic and international fronts — is something he has quite clearly spent significant time thinking about. The 2008 edition Obama we saw tonight is also, not coincidentally, the version most beloved by the base of the Democratic party. And, in truth, that’s who the speech was really aimed at. The politics of immigration are such that there were no words Obama could (or would be willing to) utter that would drastically reshape the coming fight over the issue.

Beinart argues that Obama “decided once again to trigger the hatred of defenders of the status quo because, I suspect, he knows American history well enough to know that real moral progress doesn’t happen any other way”:

Yes, Obama is a pragmatist. Yes, he is professorial. Yes, he wants to be liked by his ideological opponents and by the powers that be. But he also knows that were he in his twenties today—a young man of color with a foreign parent and a foreign-sounding name—he might be among those activists challenging the vicious injustice of America’s immigration system. When Obama talked about “the courage of students who, except for the circumstances of their birth, are as American as Malia or Sasha; students who bravely come out as undocumented in hopes they could make a difference in a country they love,” he wasn’t only comparing them to his daughters. He was comparing them to himself.

For progressives, this was always the real promise of Barack Obama. It was the promise that a black man with a Muslim name who had worked in Chicago’s ghettos—a man who had tasted what it means to a stranger in America—would bring that memory with him when he entered the White House. It’s a promise he fulfilled tonight.

Ramesh Ponnuru feels that, in Obama’s speech, the “policy and the rhetoric are at war with each other”:

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Well, I should confess something up-front. I found the president’s peroration deeply moving as an immigrant myself who has experienced a little of the fear and insecurity that being in some way on the wrong side of the immigration services can incur. The paradox of living somewhere and building a life and knowing that it can all be suddenly swept away; the thought of being separated from those you love – for ever; the stresses within families and marriages that such a shadowy existence can create. We need a full-throated defense of immigration in these cramped and narrow times, and the president was more than eloquent on that tonight – and made his case with a calm assurance and intensity. I’m gladdened by it – and I can only begin to appreciate how his words will have felt to millions of others.

Did he make the case that a mass deferral of deportations was the only option for him? Not so effectively. His strongest point was simply the phrase: “pass a bill.” Saying he is doing this as a temporary measure, that it will be superseded as soon as a law reaches his desk, gives him a stronger position than some suppose. There is more than one actor in our system. The president and the Senate have done their part; the House has resolutely refused to do its – by failing even to take a vote on the matter. Why, many will ask, can’t the Congress come up with a compromise that would forestall and over-rule this maneuver? What prevents the Republicans from acting in return to forestall this?

At the same time, he did not press the Reagan and Bush precedents. And his description of the current mess as a de facto amnesty was not as effective as he might have hoped. His early backing of even more spending on the border, his initial citing of the need for the undocumented to “get right with the law” by coming out of the shadows to pay back taxes, among other responsibilities, was a way to disarm conservative critics. It almost certainly won’t. But it remains a fact that the speech – in classic Obama style – blended conservative stringency with liberal empathy in equal parts.

Objectively, this is surely the moderate middle. Obama’s position on immigration – as on healthcare – has always been that. It’s utterly in line with his predecessor and with the Reagan era when many conservatives were eager for maximal immigration. His political isolation now is a function, first and foremost, of unrelenting Republican opposition and obstructionism. From time to time, then, it is more than good to see him openly challenge the box others want to put him in, to reassert that he has long been the reasonable figure on many of these debates, and to remind us that we have a president whose substantive proposals should, in any sane polity, be the basis for a way forward, for a compromise.

They are not, of course. And this act of presidential doggedness, after so long a wait, may well inflame the divisions further. I still have doubts about the wisdom of this strategy. But I see why this president refuses to give in, to cast his future to fate, to disappoint again a constituency he has pledged to in the past, and why he is re-stating his right as president to be a prime actor rather than a passive observer in the last two years of his term. That’s who many of us voted for. And we do not believe that the election of a Republican Senate in 2014 makes his presidency moot. Au contraire.

The branches are designed to clash and to jostle over public policy. And the Congress has one thing it can do now that it has for so long refused to do. It can act. And it should. The sooner the better.

Why Is Obamacare Unpopular?

Nov 20 2014 @ 7:22pm

ACA Knowledge

Bill Gardner reviews research on the question:

Jon Krosnick, Wendy Gross, and colleagues at Stanford and Kaiser ran large surveys to measure public understanding of the ACA and how it was associated with approval of the law. They found that accurate knowledge about what’s in the bill varied with party identification: Democrats understood the most and liked the law the most, independents less, and Republicans understood still less and liked the law the least.

However, attitudes were not just tribal. Within each party, the more accurate your knowledge of the law, the more you liked it.

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