Posts Tagged ‘Democrats’

The Quickest Way to End the Shutdown

January 22, 2019

Republicans who want to reopen the government now have a realistic path.

Any day now…   Photographer: Joseph Prezioso/AFP

After weeks of offering nothing new, President Donald Trump on Saturday proposed a bargain on immigration. To be sure: It’s not a very promising offer. Trump starts by reiterating his demand for $5.7 billion to build his border wall. Then, for Democrats, he adds temporary protections for immigrants who fall under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and an extension for those under Temporary Protected Status. But then he adds something more for the anti-immigration side: new restrictions on asylum. That isn’t a trade-off Democrats would ever likely accept, even leaving the border wall aside. It’s an offer intended to give the impression of flexibility without actually moving in the Democrats’ direction.

Nonetheless, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has promised a vote on the proposal. And that’s where the opportunity to end the shutdown comes in.

In the very unlikely event that Republicans are united and seven Democratic senators defect to join them, this measure would pass the Senate and put real pressure on House Democrats to negotiate a deal. If both parties stay united, on the other hand, Trump would have a majority but fall far short of defeating a filibuster. That would demonstrate that his deal doesn’t have the votes in either chamber, but also that the president retained the full support of his party. That result likely prolongs the standoff.

If, however, some of the Republicans who have claimed to be unhappy with Trump’s shutdown are willing to vote against the bill, then Trump’s position would be especially weak. It’d be clear that majorities of both chambers support ending the shutdown if only Trump would agree. Several Republicans have already said that they want to pass short-term funding bills to reopen the government while negotiations continue. They wouldn’t be taking on much added risk if they voted in line with their statements.

For those who want to support the president, it’d be easy enough to say that voting for this deal would be a vote to reopen the government, even though realistically there’s no chance it would get through the House. (McConnell has repeatedly said he won’t waste the Senate’s time by voting for something the president wouldn’t sign; he evidently has no similar hesitation about voting on something the Democratic House won’t pass.) But for any Republicans who want this shutdown to end, opposing Trump’s plan would be the quickest way to make that happen.

1. Matthew Green at Mischiefs of Faction is exactly correct on Trump, the House Freedom Caucus and the shutdown.

2. Josh Huder at the Monkey Cage on the House committee to reform the House.

3. Julie Novkov at A House Divided on deporting veterans, now and historically.

4. Bob Bauer at Lawfare asks a sadly relevant question: What if the House impeaches and the Senate just ignores it?

5. Glenn Kessler, Salvador Rizzo and Meg Kelly have their latest count on Trump’s false or misleading statements. Yes, there are judgement calls involved, and some of these are no doubt trivial. I’m also not sure that Trump’s worst falsehoods measure up to the worst of previous presidents. But no president has ever shown such a blatant disregard for the truth on a routine basis. It’s not close.

6. And back at the Monkey Cage, Bethany Lacina on public opinion about football players.

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This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.


The Crippling Cost of 70% Tax Rates

January 22, 2019

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal would smother investment and innovation, leaving America poorer.



Newly elected Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez spent her first few weeks on Capitol Hill calling for a 70% top marginal income-tax rate, and suddenly the debate over optimal rates has reopened. To support her charge, some liberals are citing a 2011 study by economists Peter Diamond and Emmanuel Saez, which advocates for confiscatory upper-range tax rates. But a quick look at their analysis reveals grave caveats that only an advocate of higher taxes could possibly overlook.

Messrs. Diamond and Saez admit that taxes can have detrimental long-term effects on growth. Yet they ignore the long-term effects of marginal tax rates on growth. Their analysis assumes there is no effect on growth when the government taxes, redistributes and consumes income that Americans otherwise would have invested.

The authors grant that new taxes on high earnings would decrease work effort, but they don’t account for the reduced supply of talent reducing investment opportunities over time. They similarly assume confiscatory tax rates won’t diminish workers’ willingness to endure tough training and often tedious work in fields essential to growth, such as computer programming, accounting and engineering.

Most important, Messrs. Diamond and Saez ignore how inhibiting investment, risk-taking, training and work effort slows the rate at which the economy builds productivity-compounding institutions. Companies like Google accelerate innovation by exposing American workers to cutting-edge ideas and opportunities.

This exposure, together with communities of experts like Silicon Valley that facilitate the commercialization of innovation and cultural norms that encourage entrepreneurial success, magnifies the productivity of America’s talent. Punitive taxes would slow the creation of these institutions by disincentivizing the behaviors that create them.

It doesn’t take much imagination to see how society benefits more in the long run from higher growth than from larger annual tax levies. Even many liberal economists agree that for every dollar investors earn on average, they create $5 of value for the rest of the economy, chiefly for their customers and workers.

So why would an “optimal” tax policy maximize taxes collected on the $1 of earnings rather than maximizing the value of investment to others? One study last year that did account for taxes’ long-term effect on growth found that the optimal top marginal tax rate would be between 30% and 35%. At best, a 70% marginal tax rate would maximize federal revenue in the short term before eventually slowing the growth of America and the rest of the world.

The stifling effect of reducing the value of success is clear when comparing the U.S. and European economies. With greater payoffs for success, it’s no surprise America’s most talented workers work longer hours and take more entrepreneurial risks than their counterparts in other high-wage economies. Since the commercialization of the internet in the early 1990s, American innovation has significantly outpaced Western Europe. Today the value of privately held American startups priced above $1 billion—so-called unicorns—is seven times the figure in Europe.

Another discouraging aspect of Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s tax plan is that, even putting aside its long-term costs, its short-term upside isn’t significant. The Tax Foundation finds that a 70% tax rate on incomes over $10 million would increase federal revenue by less than $30 billion a year over the coming decade—a pittance compared with the more than $800 billion deficits expected this year.

The same study found that revenue would actually decrease if the new top rate were extended to capital gains as some of its backers are advocating. In truth, America runs enormous deficits because, unlike Europe, it doesn’t tax the middle class for the full cost of the government services they consume.

The only way to cover the cost of burgeoning debt without growth-crushing taxes is to encourage faster economic growth. High-skilled immigration is America’s only viable option. Today innovation, and the skilled workers who produce it, drives growth.

The country could potentially double its long-run growth rate by using immigration to double the six million ultrahigh-skilled workers who represent the top 5% of its full-time workforce. It could do this by redirecting the million green cards a year it currently issues to all immigrants exclusively to the world’s most talented workers—workers who pay far more in taxes than the value of the government services they consume. That would go a long way toward solving the problem. But those immigrants won’t come to America if the government confiscates their hard-earned success.

Mr. Conard is an American Enterprise Institute visiting scholar, a former Bain Capital partner, and author of “The Upside of Inequality: How Good Intentions Undermine the Middle Class.”

The Shutdown Shows the Weakness of the Resistance — No European-Style Yellow Vests

January 21, 2019

The grass-roots progressive activism of the past two years has been inspiring. But it’s still a shadow of what the country needs.

By  David Leonhardt
The New York Times

The grass-roots progressive movement known as the resistance has had a very good two years. It beat back attempts to take health insurance away from millions of Americans, and it helped defeat a Republican House majority that was enabling President Trump. Neither of those outcomes looked likely when he took office.

But the government shutdown has shown the limits of this new progressive movement. The resistance has had virtually no effect on the politics of the shutdown — and a stronger movement could have a big effect.

When I’ve spoken to people from other countries over the past couple of weeks, they have been shocked that Americans have not begun protesting the shutdown in large numbers. About 800,000 federal workers have now gone almost a month without getting paid. Some are struggling to pay their rent or buy medications. Some have gone to pawn shops to get cash. Major functions of government — airline security, food safety, mortgage processing, farm assistance and so on — have been impaired.

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If this were happening in Europe, as Luigi Zingales of the University of Chicago told me, people would be pouring into the streets. And yet in the United States, there has been nothing but a few smallscattered rallies.

Instead of lining up to protest, hundreds of federal workers in Washington lined up last week to eat at makeshift soup kitchens. The photos of them doing so were a study in powerlessness.

It’s not hard to envision a different scenario. Trump was already an unpopular president before Fox News hosts goaded him in December into rejecting a bipartisan Senate deal to keep the government open. Polls show that most voters correctly blame him for the shutdown. Congressional Democrats are largely united. Republicans are less so, with some publicly signaling their discomfort. They and Trump are the politically vulnerable players in the shutdown.

Imagine if there were a progressive movement strong enough to pressure Trump by highlighting the damage he is doing. What could that look like? Among other things, it could look like a nationwide one-day strike by federal workers.

With even a minority of them participating, it would create huge logistical problems at airports and elsewhere. Americans who support the workers could join them on the picket lines. The day after the strike, the federal workers could return to their jobs, as a sign of their commitment. The threat of future strikes would be clear. The human effects of the shutdown would no longer be so easy for the country to ignore.

Yes, strikes by federal workers are illegal. But requiring people to work without pay may also be illegal, legal scholars have pointed out. Either way, protest movements often use illegal tactics. It’s called civil disobedience, and it can succeed when the cause is sympathetic. Federal workers forced to visit pawn shops because of a petulant, wealthy president are pretty sympathetic.

The modern labor movement was launched in part by the illegal sit-down strikes of 1936-37, when workers in Flint, Mich., and other cities occupied factories to keep them from operating. The civil-rights movement frequently used illegal tactics. Last year, teachers in Arizona, Kentucky, Oklahoma and West Virginia risked breaking the law by walking off their jobs — and nonetheless won concessions. “One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws,” wrote a certain reverend whose 90th birthday the country is celebrating on Monday. “Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.”

The celebrations of Martin Luther King Jr. will include a lot of pap about peace and equality. But King didn’t think that peace and equality just happened. He thought people had to struggle for them. He understood that most great societal advances in America’s history — independence from Britain, the abolition of slavery, women’s suffrage, decent pay for workers — depended on mass political movements.

The government shutdown, of course, is a minor issue compared to those to advances. But it is also a clear sign that the country lacks the sort of popular movement necessary to make progress against today’s great challenges: a fraying democracy and dysfunctional government; a stagnation of living standards for much of the population; a violently warming planet.

The Trump resistance has been the most hopeful sign of activism in decades. Thousands and thousands of people, mostly women, have been inspired to march, organize, dive into local politics and get out the vote. They have already proven that their activism can make a difference. A lot of Americans owe their health insurance today to this new movement.

But relative to the scale of the country’s problems — and the strength of past political movements — the new movement remains too small and too weak. Figuring out how to build it up is a vastly more important question for progressives than, say, figuring out who the ideal 2020 Democratic nominee will be. Get the movement right, and the politicians will follow.

In the meantime, the shutdown reaches its one-month mark by the end of Monday, the same day the country is supposed to be honoring grass-roots activism.

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David Leonhardt is a former Washington bureau chief for the Times, and was the founding editor of The Upshot and head of The 2020 Project, on the future of the Times newsroom. He won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, for columns on the financial crisis. @DLeonhardt  Facebook

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page A19 of the New York edition with the headline: Where Have You Gone, Resistance?
Image result for yellow vest, france, pictures
See also:

The Yellow Vests Are Going to Change France. We Just Don’t Know How.

A protester stands in front of riot police at the Arc de Triomphe on January 12.

A protester stands in front of riot police at the Arc de Triomphe on January 12.  LE PICTORIUM / BARCROFT IMAGES / BARCROFT MEDIA VIA GETTY

House Democratic Whip Jim Clyburn May Have a Plan To End Government Shutdown, Immigration Impasse

January 21, 2019

The No. 3 House Democrat on Sunday offered a path for a deal to end the almost month-long partial government shutdown, focused on a permanent solution for so-called “Dreamers” rather than the three-year reprieve offered by President Donald Trump.

“Let’s go back and forth on this and see where we can find common ground,” House Democratic Whip Jim Clyburn of South Carolina said on “Fox News Sunday.” He spoke a day after Trump made his offer, which was rejected even before he presented it by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats.

U.S. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn.  Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Clyburn said Democrats would love “to have a permanent fix” for the undocumented individuals in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, as well as people from various countries at risk of losing Temporary Protected Status — just as Trump “wants a permanent wall.”

“We want to sit down and put some stability in people’s lives,” Clyburn said. “We are all for negotiations.”

But Clyburn said Trump should first agree to open the government to give lawmakers several weeks to negotiate a deal that would include more money for a wall on the southern U.S. border. Trump is demanding $5.7 billion, which Democrats have flatly rejected.

Lawmakers from both parties and Vice President Mike Pence went on Sunday morning political shows — and Trump took to Twitter — to talk about a potential deal after the president on Saturday outlined what he called a compromise to secure money for the wall he promised during his 2016 presidential campaign.

Blame Game

It was Trump’s first substantive offer aimed at peeling off moderate Democrats and shifting blame with an American public that so far holds him the most responsible for the month-long shutdown that reached its 30th day on Sunday.

The Senate plans a vote as early as Tuesday on a package that would fund the shuttered parts of the federal government to Oct. 1 and provide $12 billion in disaster aid while enacting Trump’s compromise immigration offer.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will attempt to amend a House-passed spending bill with the text of the new legislation on Tuesday, according to a person familiar with the plan. If he cannot get consent from Democrats to do that, the vote on the bill would be pushed to Thursday, the person said.

The vote would come just before about 800,000 federal workers are set to miss their second paychecks on Friday from the shutdown. The House also plans votes this week on a package containing six of the same seven spending bills.

Additional $1 Billion

Clyburn noted that Democrats have already offered an additional $1 billion for border measures including upgrades at ports of entry. Clyburn said Trump also now seems to be talking more about “barriers” instead of the wall — and on Saturday the president said the barrier would not be “sea to sea” — a shift the Democrat welcomed.

The Democratic measure would provide $563 million for immigration judges and $524 million for upgrading ports of entry. That’s up from $504 million for judges last year and $254 million for ports of entry.

Clyburn said he’s previously backed measures that include enhanced border control technology and drones. That, he said, would be more effective than “a monument.”

“I’ve been talking about barriers for a long time,” Clyburn said.

While Clyburn pressed the Democratic insistence that Trump agree to open the government to allow time for negotiations, the idea of trading border funding for permanent deportation relief is an idea that’s had broad bipartisan support in the past.

Previous Support

Some 54 senators, including most Democrats, backed a path to citizenship for the DACA population in 2018 in return for $25 billion in border funding over a decade. But Trump opposed the bill because he also insisted on cuts to legal immigration.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, a newly minted 2020 presidential hopeful, said Democrats want a pathway to citizenship for everyone eligible for DACA in return for border money.

“We put a deal on the table a year ago to say, we will give you the border security money that you want” in return for a path to citizenship for all “Dreamers,” she said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday. “That is still there for him. The fact that he’s saying three years just for DACA just shows that he’s not serious.”

Pence said earlier Sunday on Fox that the administration was open to negotiations, but he wasn’t willing to concede that Trump’s offer is dead-on-arrival at the Capitol.

Not Amnesty

“Now people will start voting and we’ll see where they stand,” Pence said. He also insisted that the president’s proposal wasn’t amnesty when asked about criticism from the right.

“This is not amnesty, there’s no pathway to citizenship, there is no permanent status here at all, which is what amnesty contemplates,” Pence said.

Trump issued several early morning tweets about the impasse, blasting Pelosi as “a Radical Democrat” and also insisting his proposal wasn’t “amnesty” as some prominent conservatives have said. The president suggested he would ultimately be willing to trade amnesty for an agreement, though.

“Amnesty will be used only on a much bigger deal, whether on immigration or something else,” he said on Twitter. He also promised “no big push to remove the 11,000,000 plus people who are here illegally” but added in a message to Pelosi, “be careful Nancy!”

Donald J. Trump


No, Amnesty is not a part of my offer. It is a 3 year extension of DACA. Amnesty will be used only on a much bigger deal, whether on immigration or something else. Likewise there will be no big push to remove the 11,000,000 plus people who are here illegally-but be careful Nancy!

38.1K people are talking about this

The suggestion of amnesty for Dreamers or others under any circumstance is likely to rile some of Trump’s anti-immigration critics on the far right. “Trump proposes amnesty,” conservative commentator Ann Coulter tweeted on Saturday. “We voted for Trump and we got Jeb!”

Trump defends immigration proposal — Says, “Amnesty will be used only on a much bigger deal…”

January 20, 2019

President Donald Trump early Sunday sought to sell his new immigration proposal, which includes funding for a wall along the southern border and extended protection for certain immigrant groups, amid pushback from Democrats and hard-line conservatives.

In a series of tweets, Trump chastised Democrats for dismissing his plan, and attempted to assuage immigration hard-liners who likened the administration’s latest proposal to amnesty for immigrants already in the country illegally.

“No, Amnesty is not a part of my offer,” Trump tweeted. “It is a 3 year extension of DACA. Amnesty will be used only on a much bigger deal, whether on immigration or something else. Likewise there will be no big push to remove the 11,000,000 plus people who are here illegally-but be careful Nancy!”

Donald J. Trump


No, Amnesty is not a part of my offer. It is a 3 year extension of DACA. Amnesty will be used only on a much bigger deal, whether on immigration or something else. Likewise there will be no big push to remove the 11,000,000 plus people who are here illegally-but be careful Nancy!


In two other tweets, Trump singled out Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for her opposition to the proposal, calling her a “Radical Democrat” and blaming her for the condition of the streets in San Francisco, which falls in her congressional district.

Trump called on Pelosi and Democrats to “do the right thing for the Country & allow people to go back to work” as a partial government shutdown triggered by his demand for wall funding stretched into its 30th day.

Donald J. Trump


Nancy Pelosi and some of the Democrats turned down my offer yesterday before I even got up to speak. They don’t see crime & drugs, they only see 2020 – which they are not going to win. Best economy! They should do the right thing for the Country & allow people to go back to work.


Donald J. Trump


Nancy Pelosi has behaved so irrationally & has gone so far to the left that she has now officially become a Radical Democrat. She is so petrified of the “lefties” in her party that she has lost control…And by the way, clean up the streets in San Francisco, they are disgusting!


Pelosi called Trump’s proposal a “non-starter” shortly before Trump unveiled the details amid media reports that it would include wall funding and protections for “Dreamers” and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients. The deal would also reopen swaths of the government that have been closed since late December.

Trump on Saturday proposed a deal that would include more than $5 billion in funding for a wall along the southern border, a three-year extension of protections for “Dreamers” who benefit from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and TPS holders, and funding for additional immigration judges.

A number of Republicans were quick to praise the proposal, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he would bring it up for a vote this week.

Democratic leaders and rank-and-file members were just as quick to criticize Trump’s plan, calling it a “non-starter,” “more hostage taking” and “non-serious.”

The president’s announcement also drew backlash from conservatives, including Ann Coulter and hard-line group NumbersUSA, who compared his suggestion to amnesty.

Ann Coulter


Trump proposes amnesty. We voted for Trump and got Jeb!

Alternative To President Trump’s Wall Plus Plan

January 20, 2019

Congress must act independently. Behaving honorably.

President Trump has been taking hostages for two years. He ordered an end to dreamers’ protection under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, ordered an end to the temporary protected status for hundreds of thousands of people, and then forced a shutdown of the government, leaving 800,000 without a paycheck and inflicting financial and emotional pain on them, their families and (often small) businesses. And then he came up with a deal — such a deal! He would give partial relief to the dreamers and TPS people and get $5.7 billion for a wall; then he’d open the government.

Wait, you say. Wasn’t he the one who put DACA and TPS folks at risk, and haven’t the federal courts already given DACA beneficiaries a likely one-year reprieve? Well, yes. A burglar has broken into your home, has taken the silver and is now offering to lease it back to you for three years only — but first, give him a $5.7 billion edifice.

By Jennifer Rubin
The Washington Post

President Trump proposes temporary protections for some undocumented immigrants in return for border-wall funding to end the partial government shutdown at the White House in Washington on Jan. 19. (Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA-EFE)

Alas, the press — fresh from a BuzzFeed beating — now presents Trump’s “offer” as serious. It’s not. Here is what would be a serious way to proceed:

  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) brings the bill to the floor and allows amendments.
  • After the amendment process is finished, the Senate votes.
  • The House puts together its own bill: permanent DACA and TPS relief, money for border security (not a wall) and a way to prevent future shutdowns (e.g., an automatic continuing resolution in case funding lapses).
  • The House passes its bill.
  • As the two bills go to a conference, the government is reopened.
  • The House and Senate then negotiate a resolution.

This does not reward hostage-taking. It allows the parties negotiate on even footing. It does not give McConnell and anti-immigration hard-liners the “out” that they won’t consider something Trump doesn’t want. Trump would be forced to decide at the end of the process either to veto a bill everyone else agrees upon or to sign a compromise measure — and he wouldn’t have the shutdown as a further bargaining chip.

Trump’s non-offer is instructive in three respects. First, his hard-line anti-immigrant supporters (e.g. Ann Coulter) already don’t like talk of “amnesty”; nothing short of deporting DACA recipients will do in their book. If McConnell votes and the Senate passes the president’s proposal, Republicans — including the president, we hope — will learn to ignore the most strident anti-immigrant voices and fulfill their obligation to negotiate without looking over their shoulders.

Second, Trump is plainly worried. Seeing the rotten polling for him and the wall, the impressive unity of the Democrats and McConnell’s unwillingness to help bail him out, Trump was forced to reverse his earlier pledge not to include DACA in the shutdown settlement. He blinked, albeit with his fingers crossed behind his back.

Third, if anyone still had doubts, Trump is the worst negotiator to occupy the Oval Office, in large part because he is utterly untrustworthy. We are in this predicament because Trump has repeated reneged on a deal (most recently a clean continuing resolution). Because he is entirely incapable of behaving honorably, Congress must act independently. McConnell should now be prodded to emerge from behind Trump’s skirts and negotiate in good faith as half of an equal branch of government. That might actually generate a reasonable compromise.


Nancy and Chuck Owe The U.S. A Counter Offer and Legislation — Trump’s Wall Won’t Protect Democrats Forever

January 20, 2019

They will need to articulate their policy, not just their moral position, on immigration.

A firm grip.  Photographer: Win McNamee/Getty Images North America

Donald Trump’s presidency encourages a kind of policy sloth. Because Trump knows practically nothing about policies, including his own, and lies about them regularly, there is little to be gained from debating him publicly or negotiating with him privately. If Democratic leaders do work out an agreement with the White House, it’s liable to be tossed aside if Trump gets spooked by his base.

Last year, with Republicans in charge of Congress, Trump rejected numerous offers for a border wall, with $20 billion or more in funding, in return for providing a path to citizenship for Dreamers, the undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. The $20 billion figure was quite large; Trump is currently demanding $5.7 billion.

Releasing the Dreamer hostages was a top Democratic priority, and Democrats were willing to pay a heavy price for it. However, Trump’s most virulent supporters generally want to deport Dreamers, who are mostly nonwhite. So Trump bailed.

Democrats will never again offer Trump $20 billion for his signature initiative; the politics have changed. Trump made anti-immigrant demagogy the centerpiece of last November’s midterm election. Republicans got clobbered, losing 40 House seats. The president’s job-approval rating, never high, has been edging lower over the course of the government shutdown that he deliberately engineered, claimed credit for, and then blamed on Democrats.

So far, the only thing the wall is protecting are Democrats, who feel little pressure to do anything but await Trump’s surrender. The pragmatic arguments that Democrats once made against a wall — it’s ineffective, expensive, impossible in some places due to terrain or private ownership, plain stupid — are increasingly shelved.

“The wall has now morphed into a moral issue for Democrats,” said immigration advocate Frank Sharry. “The wall has come to symbolize Trump’s racism and xenophobia.”

Republican leaders apparently concur. This week, for the first time, they took punitive action against Representative Steve King of Iowa for his racist provocations, which began many years before 2019. With Trump in the lead, the GOP fears being seen as racist. And with the Republicans’ nativist base empowered, the party also fears being seen as not racist enough. Thus a smack for King, a hug for Trump.

Yet when the shutdown, and the symbolic skirmish behind it, ends, the immigration debate will not. And it’s unclear how much progress Democrats will have made persuading distracted voters to embrace a realistic and humane alternative to Trump’s fantasy and aggression.

Trump is not winning the fight overall. A Pew Research Center survey this month found 58 percent of Americans oppose “substantially expanding” a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico, while 40 percent support it. But Trump has succeeded in further polarizing the debate on partisan lines, with more Republicans now supporting a wall and more Democrats opposing one. To a president under rising pressure from the law, whose lifeline is partisanship, that’s a silver lining.

As to the substance, will Americans who have been encouraged to imagine an impregnable curtain of steel be better able to imagine the legal and topographical fiascos that would ensue from trying to build it? Or the handmade wooden ladder that would be used to vault over it? What about a comprehensive alternative that includes a path to citizenship for the undocumented and tighter controls on borders and employment?

There’s no way to make progress on such arguments if the Democratic line is simply that the wall is, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, “immoral.”

In the third presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Trump in 2016, Trump said Clinton “wants open borders. People are going to pour into our country.”

It was a lie, naturally. Clinton never supported “open borders” — whatever that even means in a nation with a militarized border zone, long delays at key crossings, and a Border Patrol of more than 21,000 agents. Her campaign website included the boilerplate assertion that, as president, she would “protect our borders and national security” (though her immigration section was otherwise uncharacteristically spare).

Yet when Trump attacked, Clinton didn’t effectively counter. Granted, responding to every Trump lie would exhaust any human. But this particular charge was made in a nationally televised presidential debate. It merited a firm response then. And since Trump continues to make the false charge about Democrats generally, it merits a firm response today.

Last week, Pelosi suggested that a “technological wall” would better suit the demands of border security. The phrase, a vaguely familiar, and familiarly vague, one repeated through the years, at least connotes that Democrats are committed to security.

There is already quite a bit of technology — ground sensors, drones, mobile observation towers, imaging technology — at various places along the border. Representative James Clyburn, another member of the Democratic House leadership, similarly called for a “smart wall.”

That Pelosi and Clyburn aren’t even using the same lingo suggests that Democrats could stand to clarify their approach. If something happens that Trump and Fox News can exploit — a clash at the border, a killing by an undocumented immigrant — increased clarity may come in handy.

Six years after the Senate passed a comprehensive bipartisan immigration package with more than two-thirds of senators voting in favor, the basic outlines of a compromise haven’t changed all that much: large-scale legalization of long-resident undocumented immigrants and rationalized legal immigration, including temporary work visas, in return for heightened border security and a systematic crackdown on employers who hire undocumented workers. In addition, owing to the changing nature of the challenge, a robust regional plan to improve security in Central America will be necessary.

There’s no room for a symbolic wall in that basic formula. But that doesn’t mean Democrats should assume that everyone knows why.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

Francis Wilkinson writes editorials on politics and U.S. domestic policy for Bloomberg Opinion. He was executive editor of the Week. He was previously a writer for Rolling Stone, a communications consultant and a political media strategist.

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Trump offers deal on immigrants in exchange for wall

January 20, 2019

Democrats say they will reject president’s offer as longest government shutdown continues US President Donald Trump arrives to make his statement about immigration and the border wall from the diplomatic reception room of the White House

By Kiran Stacey in Washington

Donald Trump on Saturday made an offer to end the month-long US government shutdown that would see some undocumented migrants get three years additional protection in return for $5.7bn of funding for a border wall. “Both sides in Washington must come together . . . put down their armour, build trust, reach across the aisle and find solutions,” the president said in a live address from the White House.

“I am here today to break the logjam and provide Congress with a path forward to end the government shutdown.” The president said he would extend protection against deportation for undocumented migrants who came to the US as children — a group known as “Dreamers” — for another three years.

He also offered a three-year reprieve for immigrants from some Latin American and African countries who have temporary protected status (TPS).

But the offer was promptly rebuffed by Democrats, who described it as a rehash of ideas they had previously rejected. “It’s clear the president realises that by closing the government and hurting so many American workers and their families, he has put himself and the country in an untenable position,” said Chuck Schumer, the leader of the Democrats in the Senate.

“It was the president who single-handedly took away DACA (the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status enjoyed by the Dreamers) and TPS protections in the first place — offering some protections back in exchange for the wall is not a compromise but more hostage taking.”

Mr Trump’s proposal also included $800m for humanitarian assistance, medical support and new temporary housing, and $805m for drug detection teams at the border, as well as the hiring of 2,750 extra border agents and law enforcement professionals.

He said he would hire 75 new immigration judge teams to reduce what he claimed was a backlog in the immigration court of 800,000 cases. The president attempted to recast his request for money for a wall, saying that it would not be a “2,000 mile concrete structure from sea to sea”.

Instead, he said he wanted to build steel structures wherever there were not already natural barriers, such as forests or mountains, or existing border fences. He called his proposal “a compassionate response to the ongoing tragedy on our southern border”. Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, would put forward the measures in a bill to be voted on next week, he said.

Mitt Romney, Mr Trump’s former presidential rival and now a Senator, described the plan as “a reasonable, good faith proposal that will reopen the government and help secure the border.”

But it looks sure to struggle in the House, where the Democrats now hold the majority. Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader in the chamber, tweeted: “What is original in the President’s proposal is not good. What is good in the proposal is not original.

Democrats will vote next week to add additional border security funding for ports of entry, advanced technology for scanning vehicles for drugs & immigration judges.” Mr Trump’s offer comes as polls suggest most voters blame him for the longest shutdown in US history rather than his Democratic opponents.

The threat of long-term political damage has not reduced the hostility on either side in recent days however. On Thursday, Mr Trump cancelled a planned trip by Ms Pelosi and other colleagues to Afghanistan, shortly before they were due to leave for the airport. His action came a day after Ms Pelosi wrote to Mr Trump asking him to delay his State of the Union address to Congress.


The proposal is similar to a compromise put forward by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., that would include three year work permits for DACA recipients and extension of legal status for TPS holders, in exchange for the wall funding. Graham called the proposal “fantastic” in a tweet after the announcement.

“Let’s get it done,” he tweeted. House Republicans were scheduled to be briefed about the proposal in a conference call at 5 p.m. ET.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., praised Trump for his “bold solution” to re-open the government.

“Compromise in divided government means that everyone can’t get everything they want every time,” McConnell said in a statement. “The President’s proposal reflects that. It strikes a fair compromise by incorporating priorities from both sides of the aisle.”


Likewise, Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, voiced support for the president’s compromise plan, pledging his support for it via Twitter.

“@POTUS has put forth a reasonable, good faith proposal that will reopen the government and help secure the border. I look forward to voting for it and will work to encourage my Republican and Democratic colleagues to do the same,” Romney wrote.

Trump Vows Announcement on Border as Talks Remain Stalled

January 19, 2019
New twist in week of acrimony between Capitol and White House
Democrats working on a border security plan with no wall money
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President Donald Trump promised a “major announcement” on the government shutdown Saturday as he and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi headed into a long holiday weekend with no sign their increasingly acrimonious standoff is any closer to an end.

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President Donald Trump speaks at the American Farm Bureau Federation convention in New Orleans, Monday

The president plans to renew his demand for a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico, but also offer incentives for congressional Democrats, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Donald J. Trump


I will be making a major announcement concerning the Humanitarian Crisis on our Southern Border, and the Shutdown, tomorrow afternoon at 3 P.M., live from the @WhiteHouse.

Although Trump has hinted that he might declare a national emergency to bypass Congress and fund the wall if other options failed, he does not plan to do so on Saturday, according to the person, who was granted anonymity to discuss the announcement beforehand.

The person would not discuss what Trump plans to offer to the Democrats who now control the U.S. House, beyond saying that it may have something to do with immigration.

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The Democrats, who have adamantly refused his demands for $5.7 billion for the wall, have called for protections for young immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and other immigration reforms.

Trump’s tweet late Friday previewing the announcement capped three days of dramatic twists in a clash between the president and the speaker that’s become highly personal.

The president blocked Pelosi and a congressional delegation from visiting U.S. troops in Afghanistan over the weekend, a day after she said he should postpone his Jan. 29 State of the Union address. On Friday, Pelosi abandoned an attempt to fly there on commercial flights, saying that administration leaks about the trip endangered the lives of the participants.

Read More: The Shutdown’s Bad. Buckle Up Because It Could Get Much Worse

“It was very irresponsible on the part of the president,” Pelosi told reporters.

In canceling the military flight, Trump said he wanted her to remain in Washington to negotiate. But as of Friday, Pelosi’s office had received no White House invitation for further talks, even as Trump moved on other fronts, including scheduling a second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the end of February.

The White House didn’t respond to a request for comment on the possibility of Pelosi being invited for meetings over the weekend.

The dispute over the wall led to the impasse, which has closed nine government departments and dozens of agencies since Dec. 22. Democrats are trying to craft their own border security plan that doesn’t include new wall funding, though the White House didn’t indicate any softening of the president’s stance.

“What really has to happen is Nancy Pelosi needs to come back to the White House or send others here who are actually willing to converse and negotiate and come up with the money for border security,” Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway said in an appearance on Fox Business Network. “Our doors are open.”

In Ankara, Turkey, Republican Senator Lindsay Graham of South Carolina said the stalemate could be resolved soon, citing “behind the scenes” meetings he’s had with Democrats and Vice President Michael Pence.

“I believe there is a deal that can be reached fairly quickly,” Graham told Bloomberg Saturday after meetings with Turkish leaders. “I think this can be done in a couple of weeks, not a couple of months.”

Read More: Explaining the Longest-Ever Government Shutdown

Democrats have rallied around the position that only after the government opens would they be willing to talk about increased border security. Republicans said Democrats would have to offer more than the $1.3 billion in border funds they have already put on the table.

Border Tactics

Pelosi said this week that her party is willing to talk about increased border security money but not to fulfill Trump’s campaign promise to build a 2,000 mile wall.

“In case I wasn’t clear, 90 percent of the drugs coming into the country come through the ports of entry. Let’s use resources to expand the ports of entry,” she told reporters. “This has to be evidence-based, not notion-mongered.”

By coming up with their own proposal, Democrats can inoculate themselves against charges by Trump and his supporters that they’re in favor of open borders.

“We’ve got to say what we’re for, not just what we’re against,” former Vice President Joe Biden, a potential challenger to Trump in 2020, said in an interview in Washington.

Pelosi, House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey of New York and Homeland Security subcommittee Chairwoman Lucille Roybal-Allard of California and their staffs are seeking to draft the plan by Tuesday.

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Lucille Roybal-Allard

“A lot of members are asking what is our plan here,” Roybal-Allard said. “We are looking at all the options.”

Read More: Trump Pulls U.S. Delegation Out of Davos Forum, Citing Shutdown

A Homeland Security spending bill could be voted on by Friday and perhaps become the basis of any Democratic offer in talks once the government opened, according to two Democratic aides.

The amount of funding for the border could approach the $5.7 billion Trump is seeking but none of it would be for a wall, according to one of the aides.

Roybal-Allard said that she would be looking at adding personnel, technology, and infrastructure at the border as well as securing ports of entry and funding more immigration judges to process backlogs of immigration cases.

Humanitarian aid for asylum-seekers and aid for Central American countries to encourage migrants to remain at home are also on the table, as is facilitating trade between the U.S. and Mexico.

A House vote on the bill could help lawmakers get out of the impasse by presenting an offer without violating the Democratic pledge not to give in to a White House that provoked the shutdown. Democrats say that could set a precedent that would encourage Trump to use the debt ceiling or future spending bills as leverage.

Separately, Democrats are adding border provisions to a package of six bills funding other parts of the government and set for a vote next week. Totaling about $1 billion, half the money would be used to strengthen security at ports of entry and half to fund more immigration judges.

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Josh Gottheimer

Developing a House plan could ease the concern of moderate Democrats that the party is not doing enough to try to resolve the impasse. This week, members of the Problem Solvers Caucus, a bipartisan group of lawmakers, met with Trump in the White House but didn’t emerge with any potential solution.

“We were there to say there are enough of us who want to sit down and find an agreement,” Representative Josh Gottheimer, a New Jersey Democrat, said after the meeting.

— With assistance by Margaret Talev, Jennifer Jacobs, and Alyza Sebenius


U.S. Government Shutdown “Coud End in Disaster”

January 18, 2019

The current political dynamics won’t change until voters get a lot angrier.

Aides on Capitol Hill fear that a dramatic government failure may be the only thing to force President Trump and the Democrats back to the table.

As the longest government shutdown in American history lurches toward its fifth week, a grim but growing consensus has begun to emerge on Capitol Hill: There may be no way out of this mess until something disastrous happens.

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This is, of course, not a sentiment lawmakers are eager to share on the record. But in interviews this week with congressional staffers on both sides of the aisle (whom I granted anonymity in exchange for candor), I heard the same morbid idea expressed again and again.

The basic theory—explained to me between weary sighs and defeated shrugs—goes like this: Washington is at an impasse that looks increasingly unbreakable. President Donald Trump is dug in; so is Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Democrats have public opinion on their side, but the president is focused on his conservative base. For a deal to shake loose in this environment, it may require a failure of government so dramatic, so shocking, as to galvanize public outrage and force the two parties back to the negotiating table.

In these interviews, I heard an array of macabre hypotheticals—from airplane crashes to food-safety scares, TSA strikes to terrorist incidents. But the one theme that ran through every conversation was a sense that the current political dynamics won’t change until voters get a lot angrier.

Read more: