Hey there, everybody. It's Sunday morning and it's time for me to make coffee and swallow my regrets and turn on the old TiVo and watch the political chat shows and quickly type my pained reactions to all the blather. So, welcome. My name is Jason and I am here to help you never have to go through this for yourselves.
Today, it looks like most of the action is centered on the various things that Congress might actually try to pull off -- like, passing laws and stuff. It's been a tricky hang of late, what with all the terrible incompetence. But all of the sudden you look across the landscape and see that lawmakers might do a thing about gun safety, maybe. Or they might pass comprehensive immigration reform. Or they might make a "Grand Bargain" on the deficit, though I hope not, because a day without a Grand Bargain is a great day for America. Nevertheless, lawmakers might actually demonstrate abilities and have achievements that go beyond the abilities and achievements or small rocks and dead seagulls.
By the looks of things, Marco Rubio is on every show today, so I guess the focus will be on immigration reform. There are, of course, many questions. For instance, are we as close to a deal as all the other Gang Of Eight Gang-bangers implied we were last week, when we were touting the historic labor/business accord and everyone was awash with possibility? Is it all getting too REAL for Rubio? Will he "slow things down," or even kill the deal, because President Barack Obama might sign it into law, and it would be bad for Rubio's "brand" if he and Obama were in agreement on anything? Or are there other silly junior high school reasons why the bill might fail? (Yes. This is Congress. They aspire to "junior high school" levels of human interaction.)
At any rate, may as well get to watching all of today's mouth flopping. As usual, you all are free to chill out, relax, talk with each other in the comments, drop me a line if necessary, follow me on Twitter if you like to scavenge my id for entertainment, and check out the Sunday Reads on my Rebel Mouse page for those moments where you are waiting for me to continue typing. Because it's the only show on at 9am where I live, we begin, blearily, with...
FOX NEWS SUNDAY
Okay, Marco, let's make some beautiful news together, this morning, or not, I don't actually care one way or the other.
Apparently, this will be the week that the OctoGäng delivers their immigration idea, so as they say in Jurassic Park, "Hang on to your butts." You know that "hang on to your butts" is maybe the least profane line that Samuel L. Jackson was ever given in the history of the cinema? But I digress. Wallace begins by pointing out that the OctoGäng's border security requirement is very tough, perhaps impossibly so, perhaps because the point is to make it impossible, so that all of this becomes activity without achievement. The border security standard that "triggers" the rest of the reform is 90% apprehension, 100% surveillance. Wallace wants to know how far off the standard we currently are.
It's a complicated answer, beginning with what constitutes the "border." Rubio says that what we know conventionally as "the border" is separated into a nine different sectors, and at least three of them are far off the standard. So improvement has to be shown in those areas -- Rubio says that if any of the sectors that fail to hit the reform deals metrics, the Department of Homeland Security will lose jurisdiction and money will be set aside to local authorities to, I guess, come up with a more bespoke plan, for border security.
Rubio says he is "confident" that the security metrics will be achieved, and that it's being enhanced by other systems like E-Verify.
But is it a trigger, or a goal? Because the OctoGäng can't seem to agree. Rubio says it is a trigger. The Department of Homeland Security has five years to meet the goal and if they don't meet the goal, it "triggers" the border commission. I'm not sure that's what everyone means by a "trigger." Conventionally, we've been talking about the "trigger" in terms of, "first you get border security, and that TRIGGERS the rest of the bill (path to citizenship, etc.)."
Wallace moves into that part of the reform package, asking why isn't the legal status being granted to undocumented immigrants not amnesty. Rubio says that everyone misunderstands, and that no one is "getting" anything, other than "the opportunity to apply for" citizenship.
RUBIO: They have to qualify, pass background checks and pay a registration fee, pay a fine and renew it. This is not forever. This is a renewable thing. They don't qualify for any federal benefits. No federal benefits, no food stamps, welfare or Obamacare. They have to prove they're gainfully employed and support themselves. They have to do that to keep that status. The only thing that happens is they will have to stay in that status until at least ten years elapses and the triggers are met. All that has to happen and the only thing they get is a chance to apply for a green card via the immigration system. We do not award anything to anyone.
Wallace contests this, saying that "nobody is ever going to revoke" the temporary status. He then quotes Rubio's old position back to Rubio, but Rubio contends that he's being totally consistent, he's still against amnesty, still against forgiveness, and that the system he's creating is different from "amnesty." "I guarantee it will be cheaper, faster, and easier for people to go back home and wait ten years, then it will be to go through this process I've outlined."
The Heritage Foundation, Wallace says, is pooping all over the OctoGäng's party, saying that by their analysis it's just the worst thing in the world, immigrants running around with Obamacare and what not, dogs mating with goats, an unstoppable race of goat-dogs rising, yelling all the time, with their weird eyes and uncanny human-sounding screams, et cetera. Rubio is all, whatever, Heritage Foundation, y'all some thirsty mofeaux, no one in this plan gets any Federal benefits, so shut up.
Rubio says, "When we talk about tax cuts we don't think tax cuts cost the government money, we think it generates more revenue...I'm asking for the plan to be reviewed through the same standard." Well, OF COURSE you want to view it through that standard. Hell, I want to be able to claim that if I watch the Breakfast Club on DVD while standing on my head, later I'm going to poop a unicorn, and that unicorn is going to give me wishes.
He's confident that if we just pretend that this plan will poop wish-giving unicorns, we'll see the benefit.
Is he running for president in 2016? If it's Sunday, we are DEEPLY PROBING THIS QUESTION. Rubio says that between now and 2016, he'll have to decide whether to run for re-election, or even stay in politics. Which, LOL. (Though maybe he'll be hooked up fully to the K Street Boodle Machine by then, who knows?)
Wallace is like, "Well I bring it up because won't this immigration reform stuff really hurt you in the primaries?" Rubio says, "What? Holy crap I never thought about that, ABORT ABORT!" and he runs through the back wall. There is now a Marco Rubio-shaped hole in the back wall of the room in which he was standing.
Just kidding, he says he never thought about any of that stuff when he decided to tackle the issue, and that he's all about problem solving. "What we have in place today is de facto amnesty...it benefits only human traffickers...it's an issue that has to be solved." He goes on to say that spending a ton of money on deportation isn't doable, immiserating the undocumented into "self-deporting"...well, it was a concept that went over with voters as if it were ipecac, so forget it, and the current system is TEH SUXXORS, so he's working on the problem, and that he can garner lots of support for it.
LIGHTNING ROUND. Will Rubio vote against the Manchin-Toomey gun amendment? Rubio says he had not read it, but he's skeptical, because "What? Background checks? Bad for Second Amendment, brah." But Wallace is all: "WTF, you've supported background checks in Florida, dude, come on now." Rubio takes a long pause before saying, "Chyeah, brah, like, duh. That's for concealed weapons permits. But hear me out, brah, why are we talkin' about guns when we should be talkin' bout VIOLENCE, BRAH."
So, look, he isn't voting for any gun stuff that is being produced in Congress, the end.
Rubio was apparently part of the Grand Bargain Gang who got they grub on with Barry O to talk about ch-ch-chaaaaaaained...chained CPI. Can Rubio get down with the Grand Bargain, impoverish some old people in exchange for revenues raised through closing some loopholes? Rubio says that he doesn't like cuts, he doesn't like taxes, he likes "robust growth" through "fiscal discipline," which either means he makes growth with magic or he means growth through austerity. Or maybe "Growth" is a faerie that will come to save the economy if you call out her name enough times, because Rubio goes on to say the word "growth" about eight dozen more times.
Random question: Would it help matters if everyone called their Congresspersons and Senators to simply say, over and over again, "Yo, motherf----r, make me some motherf---ing LASAGNA!" Or to just yell that at them on the street, whenever you see them? And would you guys just do that for me? Because I kind of want to see if we can maybe just drive all of over lawmakers insane, by constantly and angrily asking them to make us some lasagna. Maybe just do it to the men, because it would be really sexist to walk up to Kirstin Gillibrand or Barbara Mikulski and say that. And actually, Mikulski will straight up CUT YOU. Just stay out of her way. But like, Dick Durbin and John Cornyn, our next guests, I would love them to be constantly peppered with furious requests for lasagna.
Anyway, Chris Wallace does not ask them to make him some lasagna, but that's okay, considering that I only just had this idea and this conversation that Wallace had with Durbin and Cornyn took place about forty minutes ago. I'm letting Chris Wallace off the hook, for not taking up the cause of haranguing these guys about lasagna until they are crazy or weeping or both.
Are y'all serious about compromising and doing things? That's the basic theme here. Cornyn implies that he can't explicitly comment on the immigration bill, because he hasn't read it, but he is "encouraged" by what the OctoGäng has done.
But could he accept temporary legal status for immigrants BEFORE the border is secured? Cornyn says that he'd "have difficulty" supporting it, but he needs to read the bill first, and that's SO HARD.
That's the beauty about the whole lasagna thing, is that it can go on one page. These idiots can't say, "Oh well, I'm intrigued by the whole forcing me to make lasagna thing, but I can't comment on it because I haven't read the bill yet."
What about Durbin on this whole border security thing? Durbin says that our border is safer and more secure than it's been in years, and we're making lots of investments, and are willing to make more.
But is it a goal or a trigger? Durbin says it's both, and that it would be dumb to shut down the whole system if you miss the mark. But that's precisely what Rubio is promising his base -- no one's going to give undocumented immigrants even a wave hello until the border is tightly controlled, perhaps being held to impossible standards.
Moving to guns. Cornyn says that he has sympathy and empathy for the families of the Newtown victims, and he is "focused like a laser" on mental health issues. Wallace says, hold on, those families want expanded background checks. Cornyn says sorry, he's on mental health and doesn't want a thing to do with background checks.
It is very rare, in America, to find people who are against improving background checks, but one particular high concentration of these California condor-like creatures happens to be the GOP's two legislative caucuses.
Durbin however, points out that Pat Toomey is plenty conservative and happens to be, like normal human Americans, in favor of background checks. But does he have the votes to pass it? Durbin offers an brief infomercial for Manchin-Toomey, so the answer is no, he does not. Maybe Cornyn doesn't know if he's got the votes to block it, though, because he offers a brief anti-Manchin-Toomey infomercial.
Now we move to the budget and earned-benefit-program-dammerung. Why won't Durbin just vote for chained CPI and lose the opportunity to bargain for revenues? Durbin says, basically, that a bipartisan deal requires everyone to give a little. Cornyn says that "chained CPI" is "modest progress," but the budget is two months late, and never balances (sort of unimportant to balance the budget when we are in the middle of a demand crisis and an unemployment disaster), so you can take a poop on all that.
Also, Cornyn says that Obama would have to cut way way more from Social Security and Medicare before he'd even be willing to talk about "what a Grand Bargain would look like." (Basically, to Cornyn, a "grand bargain" would have to be the political equivalent of something that dampens the sheets of the Republican Study Group at night.)
Moving to North Korea. Not literally. The discussion. Are we going to have more talks with and more aid to Pyongyang? Durbin says that we need to de-escalate the nonsense, and what we're actually doing is asking China to get on the stick and help out. Cornyn says that he's "concerned" that Kim Jong Un will do something bonkers, but doesn't want to "pay a ransom" to get him to stop.
Should Congress have a role in deciding who drones kill and when? Durbin says yes, and recalls the halcyon days where Congress declared war because of the Constitution, and that was swell, way back when, having a Congress that weren't all rushing to give away their reponsibilities. "Drones," he says, "have offered us a new technology but an age old question. When are we at war?" Dude you just noted that the Constitution is the thing that is supposed to prompt that question, not drones.
Panel time, with a real gaggle of junior varsity opinion-mewlers: Pretend Senator to New Hampshire or maybe even your state or King of Brigadoon or whatever Scott Brown, some Democratic strategist name Marjorie Clifton who's basic ability to "strategize" are proven as wanting by dint of the fact that she's ended up here today, GOP donor dollar poop-chute and Ohio vote disputant Karl Rove, and soulless K Street pump-and-dump dingus Evan Bayh.
Wallace asks Brown a question by giving him the answer to a question, and the confused looking Brown nods his head and says a quip about "groundhog day," and then spits some basic stuff about China and North Korea that he read from a cereal box.
Wallace is really basically stuck having to monologue today, these guys need such help.
Evan Bayh borrows Brown's cereal box, etc. North Korea loves nukes becuase it's the only thing that makes them revelant.
Wallace crutches Rove through his question next, and Rove says that it's difficult to negotiate with the regime, because the ruling family are all crazy. "China has given out some nice noises," he says, demonstrating real verve and facility for foreign policy.
Clifton regurgitates what the other three panelists have already said, using all new sentences.
Wallace asks Bayh about the shifting reports out of the intelligence community, as to whether North Korea has warhead capability, and Bayh says, "What this shows is how truly difficult it is to assess North Korea." Not that it's going to stop these guys from assessing the ever-loving frack out of it.
Rove adds that the intelligence community is "rarely 100% in agreement," and, you know, LOL.
Great talk about North Korea, guys. Really learned a lot. Glad that you all are up to speed on the generalities.
More panel, but we move to a topic that's perhaps less impenetrable, immigration reform. Brown says that he called up Marco Rubio last night, to talk abotu foosball, probably, and the immigration bill is, to his estimation, a good start. He says that the key is for this to go through "the regular order" and for there to be an amendment process that let's every Senator feel like they are involved and everything is smile-time. If "Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer try to ram it through," he says, that would be bad. Hilariously, I think that Reid and Schumer are actually much bigger fans of "the regular order" than Brown is.
But Brown likes it, he wants his future constituents in whatever state he might ne a Senate candidate someday, to know.
Clifton notes that outside of Congress there is crazy support for the immigration bill, ranging from unions to the Chamber of Commerce to Mark Zuckerberg -- and no, I've no idea why it matters that Mark Zuckerberg likes the immigration reform package -- so it makes sense that this bill will probably fail, miserably.
What are the chances that House Republicans will be able to "stomach" Rubio's bill? Rove says that as long as the bill hews closely to what Rubio described, the House Republicans will...well, he never answers the question.
Evan Bayh agrees that the bill makes the right and the left upset for various reasons, and so the bill must be good. "In a dysfunctional Washington, I give this a better than fifty-fifty chance of getting done," says the anthropomorphic pustule created from Washington dysfunction, currently being paid to further said dysfunction.
Karl Rove says, "This is going to sound strange coming from me..." but the very fact that he says anything on television is strange, so he needn't preface his statement like that. Anyway, he's "impressed by the leadership" of the OctoGäng, and that will help Marco Rubio if he wants to make a Presidential run, because "leaders do things that are important." Did you ever think that you could get people to give you millions of dollars for saying things like "Leaders do things that are important?" Because wow that is great work if you can get enough toxically gullible people to give it to you.
Is Brown going to run for Senate again, in New Hampshire. "I'm not going to comment on that," he says, "I think it's important for me to continue to do my job here and challenge people to do things better." OMG New Hampshire I am so, so sorry, but you guys will have to do without Scott Brown because he's gonna be cold challengin' mofeaux to DO THINGS BETTER for ten minutes each week on Fox News panels, guys. FOREVER ALONE, NEW HAMPSHIRE, SAD EMOTICONS!!!
THE CHRIS MATTHEWS SHOW
Let's have some hawt talk about politics with David Ignatius and Kelly O'Donnell and Nia-Malika Henderson and Mark Mazzetti, okay? For America? Let's do this!
So you think that Washington is going to get ungridlocked and things are going to "get done" by Congress? Ha, well, maybe! But also probably not. At any rate, Chris Matthews thinks that Obama has "gambled" by offering cuts to earned benefit programs to the GOP, without getting any promise of anything in return. Whoa! Game changer.
Ignatius, who naturally doesn't understand that Obama's long been offering this, and is just part of the fell swoop of pundidiots who are pretending that this only happened a week ago, calls the plan "bold." Because boldness. Bold flavor. Flavor country. Country matters. Berkshire hunts. He quotes Lyndon Johnson, because that gives you 1,000,000 experience points in Washington. BEEP BORP YOU HAVE LEVELED UP, DAVID IGNATIUS BEEP BORP. "This is the moment," Ignatius says, "where [Obama] is bidding to be a significant President, solving the biggest problem the country has."
LOL, QUIET, YOU. The biggest problem the country has is unemployment and this "Grand Bargain" fiasco is actually a huge opportunity cost to solving that problem. Meanwhile, BOOM BLAM, LOOK, I just solved Social Security by following this plan and it was easy and now I am high-fiving a billion angels, David Ignatius! DUDE THESE ANGELS ARE POURING GATORADE ON ME. "Thanks for not being some sort of idiot douche about Social Security," the billion angels are saying to me, right now.
Kelly O'Donnell says that the emotional impact of the Newtown families has been really amazing, but what's amazing to me is that you can have a modest gun control trinket-law about background checks that 90% of the country supports, and you have these families manifesting all this pathos, like, buckets and buckets of pathos, and despite all this, THE BACKGROUND CHECK EXPANSION STILL PROBABLY WON'T HAPPEN.
"It's turned votes in a matter of days," says O'Donnell. Votes to end a filibuster are actually not the "votes" you want to turn, though. But I guess it's super exciting that a filibuster was ended, in Washington.
O'Donnell says that "lots can go wrong" and there are "four way stops" and plenty of occasions to "derail" the bill but "something has changed" nevertheless. What, though?
"The background checks have more support than we thought," she says. Are we SURE about that, Kelly? I think you mean to say, ""actually proceeding to a debate on background checks has more support than we thought." There is kind of a big difference!
Now we talk about the OctoGäng. Chris Matthews is rill rill impressed. "It's a real bill," he says, adding, "it's tough." Henderson agrees that it is "tough." The immigration bill, she says, will be part of Obama's legacy. It will be part of Rubio's legacy. It will be part of the Republican Party's legacy. It will also be a major piece of policy, but piss it, LEGACIES, Y'ALL, and that's why Henderson thinks it will pass -- because it offers everyone some shiny shiny.
Mazzetti finally brings something interesting to the discussion, describing how the Obama administration has expanded the "secret wars" of the Bush era, and is building out further drone platforms and such, and Matthews says, "He's not squeamish, is he?" No, dude, he's got a kill list and stuff? I think we've covered the whole squeamish thing? Mazzetti says no, Obama is not squeamish. "The real question is how long he can keep these things secret," and that even members of the various intelligence committees don't know things about these secret wars. Maybe transparency will test a lot of people's level of squeamishness.
Anyway, back to Grand Bargaining. O'Donnell says, "It's not easy but some impossible things have already happened." I have no idea what impossible things have happened, and O'Donnell doesn't name any examples. My brain goes numb for a few minutes. When I return to consciousness, Matthews says that his "Matthews-meter" group split 6 to 6 on whether or not there will be a "grand bargain" or not. O'Donnell says, "it will be less than grand, and a soft yes." I bet Chris Matthews hears that a lot.
Now Chris Matthews is showing clips from ALL IN THE FAMILY, for some reason. I'll take the moment to point out that we are actually living in a Golden Age of Deficit Reduction.
The federal budget deficit is shrinking rapidly. ...[I]n the 12 months through March 2013, the deficit totaled $911 billion, or 5.7% of GDP. In the first three months of calendar 2013--that is, since the increase in payroll and income tax rates took effect on January 1--we estimate that the deficit has averaged just 4.5% of GDP on a seasonally adjusted basis. This is less than half the peak annual deficit of 10.1% of GDP in fiscal 2009.
That's Goldman Sachs' Jan Hatzius, coming to you live through the Calculated Risk blog. Hatzius is way more bullish on the economy than I am -- Jed Graham has pointed out:
Here's a pretty important fact that virtually everyone in Washington seems oblivious to: The federal deficit has never fallen as fast as it's falling now without a coincident recession.
To be specific, CBO expects the deficit to shrink from 8.7% of GDP in fiscal 2011 to 5.3% in fiscal 2013 if the sequester takes effect and to 5.5% if it doesn't. Either way, the two-year deficit reduction -- equal to 3.4% of the economy if automatic budget cuts are triggered and 3.2% if not -- would stand far above any other fiscal tightening since World War II.
Because I take long positions on cynicism and am short your optimism, I reckon that we're going back into an Austerity-Spawned Recession Sad-Faced Emoticon Crytime and not, Holla It All Worked Out Somehow SWAK Goldman Sachs scenario. Either way, as Calculated Risk's Bill McBride says, "It shocks people when I tell them the deficit as a percent of GDP is already close to being cut in half (this doesn't seem to ever make headlines)." Sure doesn't!
WIFE: Why are they showing a clip from ALL IN THE FAMILY?
ME: This is how we do contemporary American punditry.
Time to grapple with North Korea. Chris Matthews wants to know if Kim Jong Un is the BOSS when it comes to nuking people and things. Ignatius says that "our intelligence as to how decisions are made at the very top" is not good. How is Kim Jong Un directing workflow? Does he have apple juice in the breakroom? Is there a Six Sigma thing going on? We don't know. Mazzetti adds that "listing to the side" of paramilitary operations (drones), is an opportunity cost to spycraft.
How does intelligence let the North Koreans or the Iranians know that we will strike them militarily if they do something crazy? Ignatius says that the Iranian regime seems to think that they can "ride out an American attack" and "emerge stronger than before." It's all one big battle of naive estimations. But the "enrichment continues," as Mazzetti says. Ignatius says that the case Mazzetti is making -- the paramilitary activities coming at the expense of secret-obtaining argument -- is really worth reading about, so go get The Way Of The Knife.
Here are the things that Chris Matthews does not know. Ignatius says that there is a "quiet debate" in the White House about whether or not to put pressure on Iran for a deal on enrichment before their upcoming election. O'Donnell says we will be talking about immigration this week, specifically the matter of migrant workers and how many you can bring into the country under reform (the "sweet spot," she says, is 113,000). Henderson tells us that Cory Booker is eyeing a Senate Race (we know that) and that "if he wins he wants to live in Anacostia," so look forward to gentrification, Anacostia! Mazzetti says that there is a U.N. report coming out in the fall on targeted killings, that could make life difficult for the Obama administration, and ratchet up pressure from foreign governments to rein in those programs.
Apparently, Matthews did not immediately grasp the significance of Booker moving to Anacostia, but finally figures out that it's the "poor part of Washington." Yes, Chris, and the snowplowing out in Ward 8 is even worse than it is where you live.
Can politicians get away with raising taxes? I mean...raising taxes on the rich is really popular, and you can totally get away with it. But we've done that, and now the only thing anyone is talking about is doing Romney/Ryan style revenue-raising. So, that's the context in reality. Naturally, no one on the panel thinks that the GOP will agree to raise taxes, including through the means that they all loudly wanted to use throughout all of last year.
THIS WEEK WITH GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS
Oh, it sounds like Georgie has the day off again, because he's the boss. That's probably why this show is going to have an interview with Mariano Rivera, in lieu of a discussion about politics, which I am going to skip right now because come on, now. COME ON, NOW, SON.
Oh, it's Jonathan Karl. Swell. Anyway, same old themes -- CONGRESS MIGHT DO SOME JUNK. Hey, look, Marco Rubio, tell us about the junk you might do, please? Rubio's been very diligently changing the teevee in the background to reflect what show he is on, like a boss.
DO WE HAVE A DEAL, BECAUSE YOU ARE THE KEY? Rubio says he is not the key. HE IS NOT NEO. He does not have the ability to stop bullets with his brain and he won't bring his dead girlfriend back to like, or any of the other stuff that happens in the Matrix movies, which I have either forgotten about or not seen because GAH, THOSE REVIEWS. That is a question I might ask Marco Rubio: "Dude, brah, should I peep the other Matrix movies?"
Rubio says the same thing he already said -- this isn't amnesty, no one's getting anything but the chance to apply for a status for ten years while receiving no benefits and paying taxes and then you can go for a green card.
Steve King and Ted Cruz both totally disagree with Rubio:
KARL: But you are already taking heat from some of your own natural allies on the right. Congressman King, Steve King in the House is calling this amnesty. He said this week that what you’re talking would, quote, “pardon immigration lawbreakers and reward them with the object of their crime.” And Senator Ted Cruz, Republican in the Senate, was just as harsh. Listen to what he had to say.
SEN. TED CRUZ, R-TEXAS: If we pass something that allows those here illegally to achieve citizenship, it means you’re a chump for having stayed in your own country and followed the rules.
KARL: So? Your response?
RUBIO: Well, first of all, the existing law allows people that are here illegally to gain access to citizenship. What it says is you have to go back to your country of birth and you have to wait 10 years, and then you can apply for it. All we’ve done here is create an alternative to that that they can access, and the alternative we’ve created is going to be longer, more expensive and more difficult to navigate. It will actually be cheaper if they went back home, waited 10 years, and applied for a green card. And so, secondly, we’ve not awarding anything. All we’re giving people the opportunity to eventually do is gain access to the same legal immigration system, the same legal immigration process that will be available to everybody else. And number three, in exchange for all of that, we are going to get the toughest enforcement measures in the history of this country. We’re going to secure the border to the extent that’s possible. We’re going to have an entry and exit system to track visas, because 40 percent of our illegal immigrants are people that entered legally and overstayed, and we are going to have e-verify, universally, which means that you will not be able to find a job in the United States if you’re not legally here.
Karl says that one of his biggest critics, Jeff Sessions, is listening to this interview right now, and any moment he's going to pop out and deny that he made a baby with Rubio, and then Karl's going to reveal the results of the paternity test, and it's going to be a WHOLE BIG THING.
We switch to guns, and Karl wants to know why Rubio is so against a background check bill. Rubio says, "Well, first of all, do you want the background check, because the background check system right now does not work because it’s not being enforced. Number two is, criminals don’t care about the laws that we pass with regards to guns. They never follow the law. That’s why they are criminals." I know, brah, like, why have stop signs. Criminals aren't stopping at them. We'll never stop criminals, brah.
"Look, here is the bottom line," says Rubio, "I think everyone is in favor of any law that could effectively keep criminals or dangerous people from getting access to guns." Except for Marco Rubio, brah, in this instance.
SUPER DUPER JOURNALISM TIME:
KARL: Senator, we’re almost out of time, but I’ve got to ask you about the Cuban vacation for Jay-Z and Beyonce, going down to Cuba on a cultural visa from the Treasury Department. You obviously said you thought that was a mistake to allow them to go down there. Jay-Z was pretty harsh. You know what Jay-Z is saying, let’s be clear, was pretty harsh about critics like you, saying what’s wrong, he’s not a criminal for simply going down to Cuba. So what’s your message back to Jay-Z? You can rap it if you want. He rapped his message to you.
RUBIO: Well, I won’t rap it, but I’ll say, I mean, first of all, I think Jay-Z needs to get informed. One of his heroes is Che Guevara. Che Guevara was a racist. Che Guevara was a racist that wrote extensively about the superiority of white Europeans over people of African descent, so he should inform himself on the guy that he’s propping up. Secondly, I think if Jay-Z was truly interested in the true state of affairs in Cuba, he would have met people that are being oppressed, including a hip-hop artist in Cuba who is right now being oppressed and persecuted and is undergoing a hunger strike because of his political lyrics. And I think he missed an opportunity. But that’s Jay-Z’s issue. The bigger point is the travel policies. The travel policies need to be tightened because they are being abused. These are tourist trips, and they are – what they’re doing is providing hard currency and funding so that a tyrannical regime can maintain its grip on the island of Cuba, and I think that’s wrong.
You really have to curse fate when it dials up the necessity of having to give a tinned fig about Jay-Z going to Cuba that one time, to do whatever it was he was doing. Rubio deploys this "money is fungible" argument and basically suggests that any sort of tourism funds the Cuban regime. At the same time, I sort of think that if you want to sell capitalism to Cuba, you could do a lot worse than sending Jay-Z. It's not like he went down there to pull a Dennis Rodman and return to America saying, "WOW I AM NOW BFF'S WITH THESE CRAZY GUYS AND OOOPS SO SORRY ABOUT THEIR WAR POSTURING." I'm also really curious about why Rubio keeps bringing the hip-hop artist that's in prison. I feel bad for this guy, but how does Jay-Z's trip relate to it, exactly? Would this trip have been okay if Hova had Django-unchained that dude or something?
I guess we'll never know. I'm totally proud of Rubio for not rapping his response though. We need to be spared that sort of display, LOOKING AT YOU DANA PERINO.
Oh, now we will have Chuck Schumer yelling at Jeff Sessions, about Marco Rubio's baby.
— Balancement (@Balancement) April 14, 2013
If you're having comment problems I feel bad for you, son, I've got 99 problems and I've literally gotten this exact same complaint on a near weekly basis for going back six years and so I'll pass along once again that nobody likes the posting format as I've done for years and years and I'll offer you my guaranteed assurance that at some point in the future we will introduce a new comment format that you guys will like just as much as every other posting format, which is to say not at all. (Also, get really prepared to hate GMail as much as you've always hated GMail, which is to say a lot.)
Session loves Rubio's "heart" and totally appreciates the OctoGäng so much, guys. He really loves them to bits and bits. But, sorry, guys, this plan they are talking about is amnesty and that's a no go. What Sessions wants is some magical, historical arm-waving: "What we need to do is to analyze how to handle it, how to make sure that we do the right thing for America." He says that we need to talk "working Americans whose wages have been falling since 2000 who are unemployed at a very high rate." But we need to have that discussion outside the current immigration debate.
Needless to say, Schumer, who is on the OctoGäng, disagrees that their bill is "amnesty," and says it's a "balanced approach."
"You know," says Schumer, "we've worked long and hard on this so, we're very, very close. Every major -- every significant disagreement among the eight of us is resolved." SO MANY HUGS, GUYS. The OctoGäng has SIXTEEN ARMS TO HUG YOU WITH, JEFF SESSIONS!
But are the Democrats giving up too much, by making this reformed process of citizenship so long and arduous? Schumer says he won't "get into specifics," but emphasizes that "the eight of us have met in the middle" and he thinks "that's where the American people are" and the American people "want a solution to immigration." So, if the American people think they are getting some cool immigration solution stuff that feels like it's in the middle, the actual effectiveness of the policy itself need never be discussed.
Sessions is all yelly at Schumer:
SESSIONS: Well, I would ask Senator Schumer this, if this legislation is established by reputable economists as pulling down the wages of already suffering low-wage American workers, will you continue to push for it?
SCHUMER: The bottom line, that's not going to happen, Jeff.
SESSIONS: Well, you have to read the statistics. You didn't have hearings with these top economists who studied this over the years publicly, to determine the impact. And they say it will have that impact, as does the civil rights commission members.
SCHUMER: First of all -- let me just answer. First of all, it's very logical, right now, who's pulling down wage rates? Illegal people who cross the border and will work because they're illegal and have no protections for much less than Americans will work for.
Second, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, one of the most conservative true blue economists said this will raise wages and increase GDP. Cato institute, people who you usually agree with, Jeff, say this is going to be a shot in the arm for our economy because we'll take people in who will create jobs and prevent people who are coming in from lowering wages and taking away American jobs. It's such a logical approach.
SESSIONS: Well, it's logical that if you bring in a massive supply of low-wage workers, you're going to pull the workers down.
SCHUMER: They're already here, though, aren't they?
SESSIONS: Well, you're talking about almost doubling the...
SCHUMER: That's the point, isn't it?
So that's OctoGänger versus the Elfin Prince, which should whet your appetite for GAME OF THRONES tonight.
Schumer says that the bottom line is that "the number of illegal people will greatly decrease and the number of legal people will not equal the number of illegals who cross the border. But they will have to be part -- let me just finish. They will have to be part of our society. They will not be able to bring down wages, work for less than minimum wage, be in the shadows, et cetera."
Will the Senate pass an assault weapons ban? Schumer basically says that they'll give the matter some lip services but everyone should concentrate on the sweet sexy spot that is background checks.
Karl asks Schumer how he'll get Democrats like Max Baucus and Heidi Heitkamp to vote for background checks and the answer is he probably won't, but goes on to insist that "we're going to have the overwhelming majority of Democrats be for this," but the "key battle is with a handful of Republicans who voted for closing debate, but haven't yet committed on background checks."
Sessions wants to keep yelling about immigration reform, but Karl holds him to task, and gets him to basically say that he doesn't actually know whether the background checks bill will pass.
Schumer has no comment on whether or not Anthony Weiner has a political future, other than to essentially, and correctly, imply that it is an asinine question. Though, in Jonathan Karl's defense, if you don't want to get asked a bunch of asinine questions, why are you on this show, Chuck Schumer.
And now it's time to hear from today's panel, starring George Will and Ruth Marcus and Bob Goodlatte and Luis Gutierrez and Kim Strassel.
Let's banter about the immigraysh, guys! Will says that conservatives totally get why amnesty is bad, because it rewards lawbreaking, but conservatives are always up for fact-facing and the facts are:
WILL:...at of the 11 million people who are here illegally, two-thirds have been a decade or more, 30 percent, 15 years or more. They're woven into our society. They're not leaving. And the American people would not tolerate the police measures necessary to extract them from our community. Therefore, the great consensus has to be on the details of a path to citizenship.
Which, I mean, wouldn't brave fact-facers have already come to grips with this? Or are these some FRESH FACTS FOR YOUR FACE from George Will, the Freshmaker?
Marcus says, "Absolutely, I want to say I'm going to really enjoy saying this next sentence. I completely agree with every syllable that George Will just said." So that's a cool contribution. She also says that the "stars are in alignment" for this to pass, but man, like I said before, I am short your optimism.
And Goodlatte is a little wet blankety about it, but all he really wants for the time being is for this "small group" -- the OctoGäng -- has held the issue. And they've been working close with the White House, guys! "We found out today," Goodlatte says, "a representative of the White House in all of the meetings." Karl asks if that's a problem for him. Goodlatte says no, of course not. He's just RAISING THE QUESTION, BWA HA HA.
But Goodlatte just wants the "regular order." And Gutierrez is going to continue to be optimistic about what's happening, assuring that "real progress" and "real history" is being made, and also he and Paul Ryan will be doing some joint appearance together, and I'm not sure why that's significant, but no here's Strassel, saying that she doesn't want to be "downer" about that, but guess what? SHE IS A DOWNER.
Gutierrez is nevertheless excited. He and Raul Labrador are doing stuff together. That's actually what their jobs require them to do, but let's just roll with it.
Ruth Marcus says that the sticking point is going to be the "trigger for enforcement," which we know, we know.
Let's move to guns. Strassel says that the background check bill is not going to pass, using about 800 words to simply say that. Will finds a more succinct way of agreeing with that, and adds that the real tragedy is that the timing of the incident has created an opportunity cost:
WILL: Now, it is part of the tragedy of this tragedy is that it occurred at Sandy Hook, immediately as the President began after the election.
He has spent an inordinate amount of time and energy in what will be the most precious moments of his second term probably, the early months here, on this. We're not going to get a ban on what are meretriciously called assault weapons that are simply semi-automatic weapons.
WILL: Forty percent of all weapons sold in the country. We are not going to get universal background checks. We're not going to get a ban on magazines. Does anyone at this table believe that when the Senate and the House do whatever they're going to do, that it was make a particle of difference toward preventing future --
MARCUS: I do.
KARL: There you go.
Marcus actually DOES NOT THINK we'll "get an assault weapons ban" or a restriction on high-capacity magazines. Nevertheless, we'll get "limited progress on background checks," so woo. "Would that have prevented Newtown? No. Could that prevent future Newtowns? Yes. Will it stop everybody who's determined to buy a guy who isn't entitled to buy a guy from getting one? No. Will it stop some people? Yes. The existing background check system where if you fail your background check, you can just go buy one at a gun show has gotten two million, stopped two million transactions. Some of those people went and got other guns. That would be harder under this. But some of them didn't go and get other guns."
Goodlatte is one of the rare panda bears who lives in America and doesn't want background checks. Gutierrez says that "gang bangers and drug dealers" are happy that no one is making progress on background checks. Strassel and Goodlatte complain that criminals don't follow the law. Gutierrez explains that the background check bill will prompt a larger discussion on gun control. Goodlatte says he doesn't want that.
Do you want to hear how it goes when you feel like you just can't live with yourself as a journalist without asking George Will about Jay-Z?
KARL: We're just about out of time. I do before we leave, want to talk about this Beyonce Jay-Z, there's a serious issue about whether or not we should have a Cuba Trade Embargo, Travel Ban. Jay-Z in his response on this said, I'm in Cuba, I love Cubans. The communist talk is so confusing when it's from China, the very mic that I'm using. I mean, he has a point George. This has been an odd policy. Trade with countries that are far worse on human rights than Cuba.
WILL: The Cuban Embargo may have made a lot of sense during the Cold War. The Cold War is o-ver. And it is hard to think of a policy more firmly refuted by events than the policy of the embargo which is supposed to weaken one of the, it turns out, most durable dictators in the world.
Wow. That actually went really well, so I guess I lost a little bit having a short position on optimism. right there at the end.
And that's where we'll end it, because it's gorgeous outside and I am going to go somewhere to cook food in the out of doors before humidity returns and Washington is a terrible wet, hot swamp-sock of a city. Hope you guys have a great day planned and a great week ahead. Peace out!
[The Sunday morning liveblog returns...next Sunday. Seems pretty obvious, right? Well, we like to make sure. In the meanwhile, vistors to my Rebel Mouse page will enjoy fun reads from the Huffington Post and lots of other places on the interwebs, stacked up daily. So click over and enjoy!]