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Newsmax Editor Urges GOP Leadership To ‘Embrace Obama’s Border Security Bill’

In this column, reprinted with permission from Newsmax, Christopher Ruddy, the conservative publication’s CEO and editor-in-chief, strongly suggests that congressional Republicans ought to cooperate with President Obama on border and immigration issues – and that their continuing recalcitrance may damage their party’s electoral prospects not only in November but long into the future.  

With an estimated 51,000 undocumented children having entered our border states, and another 40,000 expected by September, congressional Republicans should join with President Obama in embracing a strong border security bill.

President Obama has put forth a $3.7 billion bill that the House Appropriations Committee will take up as early as Tuesday. 

The Obama bill clearly needs some amending, but it offers a positive framework for improved border security and should not be dismissed. 

The new Obama law changes the existing William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, a 2008 statute that says minors who are not from Mexico or Canada are entitled to legal proceedings before they are deported.

Surprisingly, Obama has agreed this is not a good idea and wants to scrap it. He wants speedy deportations.

He is also asking for $400 million to secure the border and pay for additional border agents, as many have been moved to detention centers and other cities to deal with the humanitarian crisis.

Senate Democrats are not so happy with Obama’s bill, which will increase deportations and end the crisis. Congressional Republicans don’t like its $3.7 billion pricetag.

What should they do? Compromise.

The House should demand more money for border security, and stepped-up penalties for adults who illegally enter the U.S.

They won’t get a full border security bill, but they could tack on House Homeland Security Chair Mike McCaul’s Border Security Results Act, designated as H.R. 1417, that for the first time puts clear and comprehensive metrics on border security, helping to assess shortcomings.

The McCaul bill currently requires no additional revenue and allows for a two-year assessment period of the border. In 2013, the bill passed the House committee unanimously and had Democratic co-sponsors, including Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX); Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and Henry Cuellar (D-TX).

For Republicans who understandably don’t trust the Obama administration, the McCaul plan makes Obama administration efforts at the border transparent, putting a clear onus on the administration to clean up the mess or risk voter anger.

The Republicans like complaining about the border crisis, but unlike Obama have yet to put forward a comprehensive plan in dealing with it.

My GOP friends, who were dumbstruck that Obama actually won the last election, still can’t seem to figure it out.

Sure, Obama’s approval rating is in the low 40s. But it’s much better than Congress’ 7 percent approval!

They may be dumbfounded again when this November they fail to gain control of the Senate. 

Though many Republicans have agreed upon this outcome before the votes have been cast, I have this sinking feeling of déjà vu — the summer of 2012, when I heard from moderate voters who said though they weren’t enamored of Obama, they really distrusted Mitt Romney.

The sentiment today is similar. Obama is not beloved but the Republicans seem faceless, message-less, and yes, obstructionist.

For sure, the party of “no” message works well in GOP primaries and inside the conservative media bubble, but it doesn’t win general elections. 

The GOP is once again jeopardizing its already slim chance of winning the White House in 2016 — and even that of re-taking the Senate — by not moving on a borders and immigration bill.

Republicans could have passed one this summer, but chose not to.

In early July, House Speaker John Boehner announced he would not bring to the floor, nor would the GOP pass, any border security and immigration bill this year.

Obama immediately suggested he could use his executive prerogatives to fix the immigration mess.

Whatever Obama’s executive action does, which will likely be small and narrow, he and the Democrats will again look like the heroes.

The Republicans will again reaffirm their image as anti-immigrant, which I believe is not an accurate reflection of the party.

Americans do want our borders secure. States along the border with Mexico are being swamped by undocumented immigrants, many of them children, as their police and social service systems are overwhelmed. 

Sheriffs in border states say Mexican drug cartels are also taking advantage of the porous border to smuggle contraband and people — and possibly terrorists — into the United States. 

The border crisis is a national concern affecting not just the economy but security as well.

President Obama’s big wish may be to give amnesty for undocumented aliens in the country, now estimated at more than 11 million. 

The GOP had an unusual opportunity this summer to pass a bill that not only could have secured the border once and for all, but dealt with the undocumented in a long-term and comprehensive way.

A Republican working group in the House had been working for over a year hammering out legislation that would have done this. The bill was ready to go. 

My sources tell me that this plan would have required the Obama administration to effectively seal the border over the next two years. An independent commission would then have evaluated the controls to see if the administration had accomplished this task, and other parts of the bill would not go into effect unless the border was indeed certified secure.

Another 10 years would have to pass for undocumented workers to pay fines and taxes before they could even apply for citizenship.

Another proviso would have made future illegal entry into the United States a felony. This would have seriously deterred future illegal immigration.

It is a harsh plan, harsher than I would like. 

But Obama would have faced a dilemma over signing it. Meanwhile, the Republicans would have done the right thing to propose a tough border and immigration bill.

Not only would the House bill have secured the border, but it would have put the GOP in a positive light with Hispanic voters, which Republicans need to have in response to America’s changing demographics.

The Hispanic population in the United States has increased six-fold since 1970 and now totals 53 million. But in 2012, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney garnered just 27 percent of the Hispanic vote, according to exit polls. And he lost. 

George W. Bush barely won re-election in 2004 by winning 44 percent of Hispanics.

A new openness will help Republicans not just with Latinos but with all immigrant groups who see the Republican Party as anti-immigrant. 

For example, the GOP used to win a large percentage of the Asian-American vote, but in the last election Obama tallied a whopping 73 percent of that vote to Romney’s 26 percent.

As for concerns that an immigration reform act would negatively impact Republicans in national elections, the legalized newcomers would likely not earn the right to apply for citizenship until 2026, putting the impact of any legislation until the 2028 or later presidential elections. 

Studies also suggest that many may never actually apply for citizenship. A recent Pew study found that of 5.4 million legal residents from Mexico in the U.S. who hold green cards and are eligible to apply for citizenship, only 36 percent have chosen to do so.

Republicans in the House have been reluctant about moving forward, especially in light of the illegal influx of children.

Now, the Obama border bill offers a pathway for compromise. Republicans aren’t being asked to give undocumented workers status of any type. 

Obama is asking for funding to step up deportations and make the border secure. 

Having failed to propose a more comprehensive borders and immigration bill, the GOP is being given a second opportunity to step up, make the Obama bill true to its mission, and hit a home run. Obama will sign a reasonable bill. The country will win. 

Republicans need to start thinking beyond their short-term political advantage and toward long-term solutions.

Failing to grasp the importance of this moment to act, the once Grand Old Party risks being relegated to the past.

AFP Photo/Jewel Samad

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The Next Todd Akin? 5 Republicans That Democrats Would Love To Run Against

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If the election were held today, Republicans would likely pick up five or six seats in the U.S. Senate, according to a recent analysis by Alan I. Abramowitz.

While the difference between five and six seats is tiny, it’s massive in consequence. The larger number would give Republicans control of the Senate and trigger a nightmare of investigations, standoffs and obstruction that would make the tumultuous last six years seem like a paragon of comity, as both houses of Congress could be used to oppose President Obama in every conceivable way.

So Democrats must plan for every contingency to limit their losses, as they defend the abundance of seats they won in 2008, to no more than five. One strategy that will inevitably make it into the playbook is meddling in GOP primaries.

While it appeared that it was just dumb luck that Todd Akin self-destructed just weeks before the 2012 election, the congressman’s primary win was abetted by his future opponent, Senator Claire McCaskill, who ran an ad touting Akin’s conservative credentials.

Could history repeat itself in 2014? Here are five Republican candidates that Democrats hope win their nominations and then say just the right thing to cost their party a seat, or possibly the Senate.

Greg Brannon — North Carolina

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Dr. Greg Bannon is a rising Tea Party star with “future Todd Akin” written all over him.

Our Henry Decker recently laid out the doctor’s kooky credentials:

  • Been caught plagiarizing from Senator Paul’s campaign site (he later apologized and added proper attribution)
  • Called for abolishing SNAP, arguing that food aid “enslaves people“
  • Warned that interstate toll roads are close to “fascism“
  • Falsely claimed that abortion is linked to breast cancer
  • Been ordered by a jury to pay $250,000 in restitution after misleading investors in a tech startup
  • Addressed a rally co-sponsored by the League of the South, a well-known secessionist group
  • Served as president of an organization called “Founder’s Truth,” which routinely posted blog posts featuring conspiracy theories claiming that the Aurora massacre was a false flag operation, the TSA will soon force Americans to wear shock bracelets, and Intel hopes to implant microchips into your brain, among many others

Just a day after PPP found that Brannon is tied for the lead in the GOP primary, Mother Jones published a video of the doctor saying that Planned Parenthood wants to kill newborns. Coincidentally, that same PPP poll found that sitting Senator Kay Hagan (R-NC) has regained her lead.

Paul Broun — Georgia

Just behind Brannon in the race to be Akin 2.0 is Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA), the congressman who said in the video above that evolution, like most accepted scientific consensus, is a “lie from the pit of hell.”

His belief that the Earth is only 6,000 years old isn’t controversial for many right-wingers. But his extreme rhetoric makes him the perfect foil for the likely Democratic nominee, moderate Michelle Nunn — the former CEO of George H.W. Bush’s Points of Light foundation who is also the daughter of former senator Sam Nunn.

Chris McDaniel — Mississippi

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Mississippi? Is there any chance in (the pit of) hell that Democrats could compete in Mississippi in 2014?

Perhaps, if Tea Partier Chris McDaniel bests incumbent senator Thad Cochran (R-MS) in the upcoming primary. McDaniel has a history of palling around with neo-Confederates. He’s blamed hip-hop for gun violence and recently retweeted a white supremacist. But retweets aren’t necessarily endorsements, and McDaniel has lots of those from far-right groups like Club For Growth, Tea Party Express, Senate Conservatives Fund, FreedomWorks, and Madison Project.

If Cochran falls to his Tea Party competitor, Democrats have a relatively strong candidate lined up — former Democratic congressman Travis Childers, who represented the state’s very conservative 1st district for two terms.

Scott Brown — New Hampshire

Scott Brown truck

The man who claimed the first Tea Party scalp has spent his post-Senate career getting paid off by Wall Street and embarrassing himself on Twitter and Fox News. In his spare time, he pretends to be running for president and threatens to run for the Senate in New Hampshire.

His dabbling has resulted him getting crushed by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) in a recent poll. Brown trails by 13 percent with Shaheen pulling in 52 percent of those polled, suggesting that Democrats would not have to spend exorbitantly to defend the seat.

Photo: Beckwith-Zink (Diane) via Flickr

Mitch McConnell — Kentucky

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has vowed to “crush” Tea Party groups everywhere — and that could end up costing Republicans the Senate.

While McConnell is leading his Tea Party challenger Matt Bevin by well over 20 percent, he continually trails his likely Democratic opponent, Alison Lundergan Grimes, by between 2 and 4 percent. Meanwhile, a recent poll showed Bevin leading Grimes. Once the primary begins, McConnell — a notoriously vicious campaigner — will spend his massive war chest to try to drive his opponent’s unfavorable rating closer to his, which is 50 percent.

The leader will also deploy his extremely popular ally Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), who has gotten behind his colleague in an effort to shore up establishment support for a likely 2016 presidential run. But Paul has been unable to summon much goodwill for McConnell. When Glenn Beck asked the Tea Party hero to explain his McConnell endorsement, the senator couldn’t manage much more than, “He asked me when there was no one else in the race.”

It would be poetic justice of a cosmic sort if the Republicans lost the Senate because of a “reverse-Akin,” with the establishment’s favorite candidate costing the party a safe seat.

mitchmcconnell

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr