Elsewhere on this site, Eric Posner argues that conservatives should celebrate President Obama’s immigration actions because they “may modify political norms that control what the president can do.” The idea, which will be familiar to everyone following the contretemps surrounding Obama’s immigration policy, is that Republicans will eventually be able to marshall the same powers Obama is asserting to more conservative ends.
U.S. President Barack Obama shrugged off criticism of his executive action on immigration with a challenge to House of Representatives Republicans: if you don't like it, do something. Obama was asked in an interview broadcast on Sunday about House Speaker John Boehner's assertion that he was acting like an emperor in using executive powers to tackle the issue of the 11 million immigrants living in America without documents. "Well, my response is pass a bill," Obama said in the interview with ABC's "This Week" taped on Friday. "Congress has a responsibility to deal with these issues and there are some things that I can’t do on my own."
Democrats plan to use a student loan bill introduced Tuesday by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) as a wedge issue in the 2014 midterm elections, forcing Republican candidates to either support it or explain why they don't. Dem strategists think Warren's legislation—which would lower interest rates on most federal student loans below 4 percent, reducing millions of Americans' bills by hundreds or thousands of dollars a year—could help turn out young people, who tend to vote for Democrats. Fifty-seven percent of Americans ages 18 to 24 say student loan debt is a "major" issue for them, according to a recent Harvard poll.
The thinking is so ingrained now that it seems superfluous to point it out: Republicans are convinced that Obamacare's unpopularity will propel them to midterm victories in November, enough to take back control of the Senate and therefore Congress. Simple as that. “I don’t think there’s any serious observer that believes Democrats can take the House, and the Senate is slipping away from them,” Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said last week. “That’s because Americans are hurting from this law.”
The number of uninsured Americans has dropped by three to four million since Obamacare coverage took effect Jan. 1, according to a new Gallup survey. How much of the drop can be precisely attributed to the health care law is a matter of debate, though there are signs that enrollment among the uninsured is picking up. What isn't up for debate: Republicans are now confronted with a fork in the road in how they approach Obamacare. Repeal or relent. Every newly insured American undermines the "repeal" stance that has been the party's status quo over the last four years. But relenting, acknowledging the law won't be undone and pivoting to more of a "fix" mentality isn't going to be easy either, given the demands of the far-right. You can't have both.
Vice President Joe Biden seized on disorganization in the GOP to rally House Democrats on Friday at a policy conference in Maryland. "There isn’t a Republican Party. I wish there were, I wish there was a Republican Party," Biden said. "I wish there was one person we could sit across the table from, make a deal, make a compromise and know when you got up from that table it was done."
Nobody expected Senate Republicans would kill a House-passed bill to unconditionally extend the debt limit through 2014 and, as predicted, it overcame a filibuster Wednesday evening with weeks to spare before the deadline. But for a brief moment, Senate Republicans were overcome by a collective action problem. As a group, they surely didn’t want to vote the debt limit increase down and own the ensuing market panic. But as individuals, none of them wanted their names associated with its passage.
One of the best arguments for health-insurance reform is that our traditional employer-based system often locked people into jobs they wanted to leave but couldn’t because they feared they wouldn’t be able to get affordable coverage elsewhere. This worry was pronounced for people with preexisting conditions, but it was not limited to them. Consider families with young children in which one parent would like to get out of the formal labor market for a while to take care of the kids. In the old system, the choices of such couples were constrained if only one of the two received employer-provided family coverage.