Monday, January 22, 2018

Did Senate Dems Just Get Rolled? Me Thinks So

Let’s say you give Mitch McConnell the benefit of the doubt that he will honor his commitment to bring a DACA bill to the floor of the Senate, and let’s say, for the sake of argument, it gets 60 or more votes. There’s absolutely nothing in this “agreement” that compels Paul Ryan to put it on the floor of the House. Ryan, like his predecessor John Boehner, has sworn he will not allow a bill to get an up and down vote unless he has a majority of the majority in favor of it. And with the Freedom Caucus heavily opposed, that means there will never be a vote.

Face it: Chuck Schumer and the Dems got rolled on this one. Yes, they did the honorable thing by working with the majority leader to reopen the government; and yes, there are at least a dozen Republican senators who are in favor of a DACA fix. But as they used to say in New York, that and a subway token will get you a ride on the 7th Avenue Express. The sad truth is that with six weeks to go, we are no closer to a solution that allows eight hundred thousand people to stay here without fear of deportation than we were before the shutdown. All this for nothing. Your tax dollars at work, people.

And you wonder why voters hate politicians so much. This is why.

Now to be fair, Schumer probably didn't have much choice. The likelihood is that had he rejected McConnell's offer he would've faced a mutiny among his ranks from red-state Dems up for reelection this year. That's the problem with being in the minority: your options are limited. But my point is that by caving now, Democrats not only cede whatever leverage they currently hold, they make it that much harder on themselves three weeks from now when they find themselves right back in the same predicament. Not only that, their base - you know the voters who never seem to show up at the polls in midterms - now have yet another excuse to sit home.

Talk about being stuck between a rock and a hard place. The worst part about this whole charade is the grief Dems will get from all sides. Trump and the Republicans will mockingly say they caved; progressives will angrily say they were betrayed by them; and a lot of swayable voters will wonder why all this had to happen in the first place. Schumer got played and deep down he knows it. First by Trump on Friday when he naively believed a compulsive liar would sign a DACA deal in exchange for funding for the wall, then by McConnell on Sunday when he fell for the same line Jeff Flake fell for back in December: a promise to hold a vote on immigration. Flake is still waiting for McConnell to keep his word. Somehow I doubt Harry Reid would've been this gullible.

Bruce Bartlett may have summed it up best: "It takes a special level of incompetence for Democrats to get blamed for shutting down the government." Actually for them, it's just another day at the office.

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