Pushing Their Buttons
by Deacon Blues
Although I’ve questioned the president’s political wisdom in inciting the GOP with his immigration actions, I’ve also noted that such incitement may be part of a calculated White House approach to force the House GOP into serious errors, such as a government shutdown, more lawsuits, and impeachment talk rather than concrete action to address problems. With only two years left in office against an opposition more emboldened than even before, is it possible that the president and his team have settled on a sprint from the left rather than more of the same, and caught the GOP off guard in doing so?
I ask this question because I noted that last week the president pushed back hard against the GOP on two of their hot-button issues. On immigration, in several appearances, Obama almost mocked the outraged GOP with his demand to stop whining and just “pass a bill”. He knows that his action on immigration has made John Boehner’s job even harder, not that Obama cares because he knows now that Boehner dislikes him greatly no matter what lies the Orange Man spews. Boehner is having a hell of a time keeping the Nut Wing of his caucus from blowing up the government in response to the executive order on immigration, even as Boehner himself knows that Obama’s action cannot be defunded through an act of Congress. In mocking the GOP to “pass a bill”, Obama has the cards to play in telling the GOP he’ll even sign a series of bills, with security going first and then a separate effort on actual reform. Obama knows that he can sucker the GOP into passing their security bill and even signing it, while then making a big deal over when he can expect to see the citizenship measure. If the GOP balks or stalls the reform measure, Obama and the Democrats can then destroy the GOP 2016 incumbents with Hispanic Americans. In such a scenario, the power dynamic on the issue shifts from the GOP majority to the president, as he would control what gets through and what he’d sign, with the pressure only increasing upon the GOP the closer we get to 2016.
Second, the president also made it clear last week he wouldn’t sign a stop-gap bill on the expiring tax breaks if it were one-sided in favor of corporate or upper-income interests. He sounded downright populist on the subject; this follows advice given here and elsewhere that the White House and Democrats focus solely on economics, equality, and opportunity, with a little bit of security thrown in. If the White House is ready to turn left these final two years and hammer the GOP for a lack of focus on kitchen-table issues, the ground for doing so has already been set quite well. A new poll from CNN/ORC shows that the electorate already has some buyer’s remorse over the GOP taking control of Congress, with a majority thinking that a GOP takeover is bad for the country, and 68% saying that the GOP isn’t doing enough to work with Obama. With a House caucus set to erupt next year with their newfound power into a civil war, and a flummoxed Mitch McConnell unsure why Obama is coming out swinging, perhaps it’s time for the president to turn the tables on the GOP. After having four years of the GOP dictating the agenda, or lack of one, perhaps Obama can invigorate Democrats to sprint towards 2016 by setting an agenda of items that can gain his support, and then force the GOP to lower their poll numbers even further by acting out like spoiled children for not getting what they want.