For the National Journal’s Ron Fournier, bipartisan agreement is always just around the corner. The problem is always partisanship. If only Democrats and Republicans could just agree! If only President Barack Obama could just lead! Yesterday, Fournier was at it again, this time over immigration. Both Democrats and Republicans are missing clear incentives for striking a deal on immigration reform, he argues—as if the lack of agreement is somehow the fault of both parties.
But Fournier makes an even greater admission of his bipartisanship sickness in the fourth sentence of his piece:
[Democrats and Republicans] should read this report from Third Way, a Democrat think-tank with enough intellectual honesty to analyze data irrespective of its party bias.
Irrespective of its party bias? Third Way is not your typical Democratic think tank. In fact, if it were up to liberals, they wouldn’t be allowed to call themselves Democrats at all. Throughout the Obama presidency, Third Way has called for steep entitlement cuts, proposed using the debt ceiling as a hostage-device to hit fiscal targets, and criticized the Democrats’ focus on inequality. Third Way isn’t an unbiased think-tank. It’s an elitist institution that leans right, but calls itself non-partisan. In other words, it’s Ron Fournier.
Predictably, Fournier’s piece tracks the Third Way report, which somehow argues that Democrats and Republicans have equal amounts to gain (and lose) from immigration reform. Republicans, it argues, should not view all Hispanics as undocumented immigrants while Democrats must understand that Hispanics are not natural Democrats. The report ends by warning Democrats that Hispanics could return "to the ranks of swing voters" if the party doesn't broaden its outreach. It's the perfect example of Third Way's false equivalence: Democrats risk losing some Hispanic voters to the middle, Republicans risk losing them entirely and never winning a presidential election again. Yet, Third Way thinks those are equal incentives for both parties to act on immigration reform.
Worse than that, Democrats would act if House Republicans put legislation on the floor. But as Greg Sargent has documented, House Speaker John Boehner's problem is that he can't come up with a compromise within his own party. Republicans may have greater incentives to pass immigration reform, but they are the ones blocking it.
For the knee-jerk centrists in Washington, none of that matters: “Nobody gets credit for a compromise that isn't reached, a problem that isn't fixed,” Fournier writes.
And if Fournier has his way, no one will get the blame either.
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Danny Vinik is a staff writer at The New Republic.