The path to actually passing immigration reform is actually pretty simple
Today, President Obama finally addressed the main question that has gripped this town on Syria: will he or won't he?He will, as we knew he would. But now he has added for himself another hurdle on the road to Damascus: Congress.Citing "some people's" reluctance to repeat the example of David Cameron losing control over his party in Parliament, Obama said, no, he was going to take this thing to Congress because we are a Constitutional democracy.
Matt Bai’s long-awaited, 10,000-word opus on the rise and fall of last summer’s deficit grand-bargain is finally out and very much worth a read. Bai adds a lot of new detail affirming what we thought we knew—which is that Obama was ready to do a deal and Boehner wasn’t—but which got much hazier in recent weeks amid Team Boehner’s furious spin. Still, for my money, Bai puts too little emphasis on the much deeper problem looming over the whole exercise, which is that it didn’t actually matter whether Boehner was willing to strike a deal.
The post-mortems on the debt deal are showing the degree to which, as I've suspected, the Obama administration completely misunderstood the Republican Party. Laura Meckler and Gerald Seib's tick-tock is especially good. Here are the negotiations bumping up against the fundamental ideological divide in American politics: The next day, a Friday, a small group of Boehner confidantes warned the speaker about the political risks of working with the president. "The danger to him is making a deal with no one standing behind him," said one.
I'm still shocked and dismayed that President Obama tried so hard to cut a budget deal with Republicans that, in return for enormous concessions, would have raised no more revenue than we'd get if the Bush tax cuts for income over $250,000 expire on schedule. William Galston, by contrast, argues that Obama blundered by asking for too much revenue, thereby blowing up the negotiations: If news accounts are accurate, the Obama/Boehner talks broke down when the president proposed increasing the revenue component of the grand bargain from $800 billion to $1.2 trillion.
One of the oddities of the Obama-Boehner negotiation/showdown is that Obama has vastly more strategic latitude than Boehner. Obama can cut almost any deal he wants. He can probably persuade Democrats in Congress to go along with an outrageously bad deal. He could sign a deal that passes with mostly Republican votes. Boehner can't do those things. He got his job as Speaker by default. He is the picture of the Washington insider and the apotheosis of the kind of Republican conservative activists loath and suspect of selling them out.
Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy Why has Obama been so willing to make a deal on deficit reduction, even if the terms reflect Republican values far more than Democratic ones? The president himself offered some reasons in his press conference on Friday. Observers like me have speculated about others. But administration officials say that two other factors, both related to the economy, weighed on their minds. Obama and his advisers are looking at the same job numbers as the rest of us.