April 9, 2007


President Renewing Efforts on Immigration: Plan for Overhaul Faces Battle in Divided Congress (Jonathan Weisman, April 9, 2007, Washington Post)

President Bush will relaunch his push for an overhaul of the nation's immigration laws today in Arizona, with a fresh speech on the border and a new congressional leadership that is friendlier to his views, but with the same dynamics that scuttled his last attempt: a cooperative Senate but bipartisan opposition in the House.

In contrast to her approach to other controversial issues, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has told the White House that she cannot pass a bill with Democratic votes alone, nor will she seek to enforce party discipline on the issue.

...that the GOP is not unlikely to squander. She's handing them a chance to score a win on the single biggest issue for electoral politics over the next several decades. If amnesty were to pass only after a Democrat became president with a Democrat Congress the GOP would be stuck in the wilderness for awhile.

A more adept party would take advantage of the degree to which the Democrats consistently shaft the voting blocs that they believe have no other option, Democrats' Cause Is Tempered by Political Realities (Juliet Eilperin and Michael Grunwald, 4/09/07, Washington Post)

ith housing -- as with higher-profile issues such as global warming and Iraq -- the new congressional leaders are trying to balance their ideas of what is desirable with their assessments of what is fiscally and politically possible during the Bush administration. So they are pushing low-cost measures that many Republicans can support, while promising their liberal base they will do more later.

"Everything we do is a political calculation; we're constantly thinking about what can become law," said Frank, the acerbic new chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. "We're interested in getting practical results."

On the Katrina bill, that meant making deals beyond the Democrats' liberal constituencies -- and the sponsors' own inclinations. Republicans were allowed to offer amendments, and one barring felons from public housing passed over the opposition of Democratic leaders. Similarly, in an effort to ensure bipartisan support and a presidential signature, Frank quietly killed three Democratic amendments that would have subsidized tens of thousands of families who lost homes in Katrina, although he relented on one of them. And he berated one activist who urged him to do more.

Still, housing activists are delighted to have like-minded "housers" in charge. They finally get to meet with leadership and provide wish lists to staff. And they have serious wishes: Over the past two decades, as the population has increased and rents have skyrocketed, the number of federally assisted apartments has not budged. Only 1 in 4 families eligible for subsidies receives them, and half of all "working poor" families spend more than half their income on rent. Despite the rising rate of homeownership, advocates say the price for decent shelter is still the primary obstacle to the American dream, more burdensome than the costs of health insurance, gasoline or taxes.

But after years of battling their enemies, some progressives are concerned their friends will take them for granted.

"The big question is whether the Democrats are really committed to change, or whether they're just making political statements," said Barbara Sard, a housing activist with the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

By peeling off Hispanics and blacks, Republicans could force Democrats to actually do the bidding of Progressives and the like, completely alienating them from America in general.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 9, 2007 7:19 AM
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