Saturday, December 29, 2018

A grand bargain on immigration to reopen the government

Can we expect some rationality about immigration?

Not from the GOP. They, and Trump in particular, are driven by the rightwing base - the Coulter and Limbaugh types.

Not from the Dems in the House. Pelosi seems to be on an anti-wall crusade that would please the left-of-center base.

But these sides have come together in the past and can do so again, argues the Washington Post Editorial Board. They say: The way out of the shutdown has been obvious for weeks.

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Mr. Trump wants money for his pet border-wall project so badly that he’s willing to stage a partial government shutdown. Democrats should let him have funding for the wall in return for a permanent fix to the immigration status of the “dreamers,” people brought to this country as children without authorization but who have been living otherwise lawful and productive American lives since then.

This would be a grand bargain that would give both sides something to brag about and, in fact, simply calls on them to do a version of a deal that both Democrats and Republicans have at least tentatively embraced in the past. Mr. Trump says he wants to resolve the dreamers’ plight; Democrats have, in the past, voted for enhanced “border security,” including physical barriers.

Both parties are still acting as though prolonging a shutdown, and avoiding the wall-for-dreamers deal, is in their political interest, when in fact it’s the deal that would really benefit them in the long run. It would also be the right thing to do.

Let’s draw a finer distinction than that expressed by the WaPo editors. There are the Democrats, the Republicans, and Trump. Two of those entities might cut a deal but not with interference from the third.

Paul Waldman, also at the Post (PlumLine), shows how the deal may be struck: The best way to force Trump’s hand? Ignore him.

As Americans watch the federal government remain (partially) shut down and the president lob angry accusations at the opposition, a common response is, “Why can’t they all just sit down and work this out?” It seems like a reasonable question — if this were a different time and we were dealing with a different president. But since Donald Trump is in the White House, everything is more complicated.

So the only answer may be for everyone, Democrats and Republicans alike, to ignore President Trump. Act as though he doesn’t exist and this has nothing to do with him.

By which I mean that members of Congress should shut their ears to Trump’s tweets and threats and fulminations, pass something that House Democrats and Senate Republicans can live with, and then dare Trump to veto it. Because I doubt he has the guts.

Negotiating with Trump might be impossible, not only because he’s committed to a border wall that Democrats won’t accept, but also because he changes his mind so frequently that his word just can’t be trusted. He could say in the morning that he’ll sign a particular compromise, then decide by the afternoon that he won’t because Sean Hannity doesn’t like it. He’ll have to agree to something eventually, but the only way forward might be to cut him out of the process until the end, then force his hand.

… since it is impossible for anyone to know what the president will sign, the only real option is to cut him and the White House out of the process. House Democrats should sit down with Senate Republicans and work out their own compromise.

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