Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
November 29, 2014

November 25, 2014

It’s a Better Time to be a Cop Than a Criminal

Christopher Ingraham: “New FBI data released today finds that the number of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty — that is, killed with felonious intent by a suspected criminal — plummeted to 27 in 2013, its lowest level in decades.”

 Its a Better Time to be a Cop Than a Criminal

“Notably, the sharp decline in officer fatalities comes even as the number of justifiable homicides by officers, which the FBI defines as ‘the killing of a felon by a law enforcement officer in the line of duty,’ climbed to its highest level since 1994 last year.”

In contrast, the Salt Lake Tribune reports that “in the past five years, more Utahns have been killed by police than by gang members. Or drug dealers. Or from child abuse.”

“A Salt Lake Tribune review of nearly 300 homicides, using media reports, state crime statistics, medical-examiner records and court records, shows that use of force by police is the second-most common circumstance under which Utahns kill each other, surpassed only by intimate partner violence.”

Do Bankers Cheat?

Bouree Lam in The Atlantic: A new paper in Nature takes a scientific approach to the accusations of dishonesty in the banking industry. The researchers designed a coin-flip experiment where participants were given an incentive to cheat. One hundred twenty-eight bank employees—bankers, asset managers, traders, investment managers and staff from support units with an average of 11.5 years of experience in the industry—and 350 employees from non-banking professions were asked to toss a coin 10 times, then report the results online. They were told which outcome would be a winning toss, that a winning toss would pay $20 and that they could keep the winnings if they beat another group’s results.

“The participants were sorted into two groups, one group primed with questions about their banking jobs and another group about how many hours of television they watched. The latter served as the control group, which reported 52 percent winning tosses. The primed bankers reported 58 percent winning tosses, leading the researchers to conclude that 26 percent of the subjects cheated. They add that 58 percent is ‘significantly above chance and significantly higher than the success rate reported by the control group.'”

“The researchers repeated the study for 133 non-banking professionals and 222 students, and found that priming those participants with questions about their occupations did not result in less honesty.”

A commentary on the study in the same issue of Nature, by economist Marie Claire Villeval, has some insight on the study’s implications: “It was not Cohn and colleagues’ aim to explain how business culture may encourage misbehavior. However, understanding how the culture of dishonesty evolves is an important issue and it is unlikely that the process is one way… If business culture goes wrong, then individuals may also develop unethical behavior. On the other hand, individual misconduct may also influence the evolution of business cultures towards more deviant collective norms,” she writes.

Posted at 7:07 a.m.
Financial Markets

Report: Some Climate Change Impacts are Unavoidable

Reuters:  “Some future impacts of climate change, such as more extremes of heat and sea level rise, are unavoidable even if governments act fast to cut greenhouse gas emissions, the World Bank said on Sunday.”

“Past and predicted emissions from power plants, factories and cars have locked the globe on a path towards an average temperature rise of almost 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times by 2050, it said.”

“‘This means that climate change impacts such as extreme heat events may now be simply unavoidable,’ World Bank President Jim Yong Kim told a telephone news conference on the report, titled ‘Turn down the Heat, Confronting the New Climate Normal.'”

“Still, the worst impacts of global warming could be avoided by cutting greenhouse gas emissions, the report said.”



Posted at 6:58 a.m.
Energy & Environment

Is the Era of Rock Bottom Economics Over?

Paul Krugman: “The fact that we’ve spent six years at the so-called zero lower bound is amazing and depressing … Everything changes when the economy is at rock bottom — or, to use the term of art, in a liquidity trap (don’t ask). But for the longest time, nobody with the power to shape policy would believe it.”

“Government spending doesn’t compete with private investment — it actually promotes business spending. Central bankers, who normally cultivate an image as stern inflation-fighters, need to do the exact opposite, convincing markets and investors that they will push inflation up. ‘Structural reform,’ which usually means making it easier to cut wages, is more likely to destroy jobs than create them.”

“But are these bad calls just water under the bridge? Isn’t the era of rock-bottom economics just about over? Don’t count on it.”

“So the counterintuitive realities of economic policy at the zero lower bound are likely to remain relevant for a long time to come, which makes it crucial that influential people understand those realities. Unfortunately, too many still don’t; … The intellectual leaders of the new majority in Congress still insist that we’re living in an Ayn Rand novel.”

November 24, 2014

Obama’s Immigration Order: A Humane Act or Regulatory Bomb?

Paul Krugman: “So there are some difficult issues in immigration policy … But one thing you shouldn’t feel conflicted about is the proposition that we should offer decent treatment to children who are already here — and are already Americans in every sense that matters. And that’s what Mr. Obama’s initiative is about.”

“The truth is that sheer self-interest says that we should do the humane thing. Today’s immigrant children are tomorrow’s workers, taxpayers and neighbors. Condemning them to life in the shadows means that they will have less stable home lives than they should, be denied the opportunity to acquire skills and education, contribute less to the economy, and play a less positive role in society. Failure to act is just self-destructive.”

Eric Posner warns that while “the deferred action program does not violate the Constitution … it may modify political norms that control what the president can do.”

“The point is not just that Republican presidents can do what Obama has done. It is that enforcement discretion creates an advantage for Republicansit favors conservative governance and hurts liberal governance. The reason for this asymmetric effect is that the great bulk of federal law is liberal economic regulation, not conservative morals regulation. A conservative president can refuse to enforce laws, but a liberal president can’t enforce laws that don’t exist.”

“After licking their wounds, Republicans will realize that President Obama’s deferred enforcement action could be a bomb planted at the heart of the regulatory state. It will take only a Republican president to light the fuse.”

Posted at 8:55 a.m.

Despite Negative Stereotype, Americans Love U.S. Postal Service

Gallup: “While the U.S. Postal Service has recently withstood a barrage of negative attention, from getting hacked to announcing continued multibillion-dollar deficits, it enjoys the most positive image of 13 high-profile government agencies Gallup recently tested. Younger Americans are more likely than older Americans to review the Postal Service favorably.”

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“Discovering that Americans rate the U.S. Postal Service ahead of 12 other major government agencies could be good news for an organization that has been battered by bad publicity for quite some time. Americans are probably more likely, to some degree, to come into direct contact with the Postal Service and the IRS than with any of the other agencies tested — and clearly that experience has resulted in a very positive image for the service, compared with Americans’ negative image of the IRS.”

“With the country becoming more reliant on the Internet and rapidly embracing e-commerce, the increased amount of shipping and packaging could prove even more beneficial for the Postal Service both in its image ratings and financial performance.”

Posted at 8:33 a.m.

Plummeting Costs Make Renewable Power a Viable Competitor to Conventional Fuels

New York Times: “The cost of providing electricity from wind and solar power plants has plummeted over the last five years, so much so that in some markets renewable generation is now cheaper than coal or natural gas.”

“Utility executives say the trend has accelerated this year, with several companies signing contracts, known as power purchase agreements, for solar or wind at prices below that of natural gas, especially in the Great Plains and Southwest, where wind and sunlight are abundant … Recent analyses show that even without … subsidies, alternative energies can often compete with traditional sources.”

“According to a study by the investment banking firm Lazard, the cost of utility-scale solar energy is as low as 5.6 cents a kilowatt-hour, and wind is as low as 1.4 cents. In comparison, natural gas comes at 6.1 cents a kilowatt-hour on the low end and coal at 6.6 cents. Without subsidies, the firm’s analysis shows, solar costs about 7.2 cents a kilowatt-hour at the low end, with wind at 3.7 cents.”

“In a straight comparison of the costs of generating power, … the amount solar and wind developers needed to earn from each kilowatt-hour they sell from new projects was often ‘essentially competitive with what would otherwise be had from newly constructed conventional generation.’”

Posted at 8:25 a.m.
Energy & Environment

Why Democrats Are Dependent on the Rich

Dana Milbank: “More than ever in America, elections are purchased, not won. And that money comes from corporate and wealthy interests. Run against corporations and you lose that money — and the election.”

“The Center for Responsive Politics estimates $3.73 billion was spent in the 2014 midterms, and that doesn’t include another $100 million or so on “issue” ads. The vast majority of that money comes from a small group; only 0.28 percent of the population contributed more than $200. Donations from business-related interests account for about 70 percent of the total — and Democrats are nearly as dependent on that cash, taking in 42 percent to the Republicans’ 58 percent.”

“President Obama showed that it’s possible to build a candidacy on small-dollar contributions, getting about a third of his haul from contributions under $200 in 2012. But Warren, or any other Democrat, probably won’t be able to duplicate that, because the Supreme Court has changed the rules of the game, making small contributors less relevant.”

“The 2014 McCutcheon ruling struck down limits on the aggregate amount a wealthy donor could give to candidates, parties and political action committees. In addition, the wealthy are finding more ways to exploit the 2010 Citizens United ruling and other campaign-finance decisions that give super PACs and unregulated ‘dark money’ even more influence — further diluting the power of low-dollar contributions.”

“This has left Democrats dependent on rich people’s cash [and] leaves Democrats in a weak position to make a credible appeal to the little guy.”

Nibbling Away at Obamacare

New York Times Editorial Board: “Now that they will dominate both houses of Congress, Republicans are planning to dismantle the Affordable Care Act piece by piece instead of trying to repeal it entirely.”

“Republican leaders know they don’t have the supermajorities needed to override a presidential veto, so they will try to inflict death by multiple cuts.”

“All of the provisions they are targeting should be retained — they were put in the reform law for good reasons. Some may need adjustments now that they are in effect. But the Republicans are not interested in improving any provisions. They are bent on destruction.”

Obamacare provisions that are vulnerable to Republican attack: the medical device tax, employer mandates, risk to insurers, and the individual mandate.

Posted at 7:01 a.m.

November 21, 2014

Is Obama’s Use of Executive Powers Unprecedented?

Julie Hirschfeld Davis in the New York Times: “President Obama’s action to shield millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation and grant them work permits opens a new front in the decades-long debate over the scope of presidential authority.”

“Although Mr. Obama is not breaking new ground by using executive powers to carve out a quasi-legal status for certain categories of unauthorized immigrants — the Republican Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush all did so — his decision will affect as many as five million immigrants, far more than the actions of those presidents.”

“Mr. Obama’s action is also a far more extensive reshaping of the nation’s immigration system.”

“Some lawyers critical of Mr. Obama argue that by publicly grouping a large number of undocumented immigrants who are not subject to American law and granting them a special status, the president has gone far beyond the limits of prosecutorial discretion and crossed the line into legislative fiat.”

“Previous presidents who used their executive authority to shield undocumented immigrants confronted little of the fury that Mr. Obama now faces, in part because their actions affected fewer people and the issue was not as polarizing at the time.

In addition: “Mr. Obama may be paving the way for future Republican presidents to act similarly to contravene laws that Democrats cherish.”

Posted at 12:12 p.m.
Immigration, Judiciary

Study: Binging on Booze Doesn’t Make You an Alcoholic

U.S. News: “Most people who drink to excess or binge drink are not alcoholics, a new U.S. government report says.”

“In fact, 90 percent of those who drink too much aren’t dependent on alcohol. But one in three adults drinks to excess, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

“‘The surprising finding was that nine out of 10 people who drink too much do not meet the diagnostic criteria for alcoholism,’ said study co-author Dr. Robert Brewer, the leader of CDC’s alcohol program.”

“Binge drinking is defined for women as having four or more drinks on an occasion, and for men as having five or more drinks on an occasion. Eight or more drinks a week for women or 15 or more drinks a week for men is considered excessive. Any drinking by pregnant women or those under 21 is also considered excessive, Brewer said.”

“Alcoholism, however, is a chronic condition that usually includes a history of excessive drinking, a craving for alcohol, continued drinking despite repeated problems with alcohol and being unable to control drinking.”

A Closer Look at Who is Immigrating to the U.S.

Ben Casselman of 538 contends that the make-up of our immigrants has changed significantly.

“The immigration debate … focuses primarily on illegal immigration from Latin America. Yet most new immigrants aren’t Latinos. Most Latinos aren’t immigrants. And, based on the best available evidence, there are fewer undocumented immigrants in the U.S. today than there were in 2007. ”

“In the past five years, the number of new immigrants (those in the country less than a year) from China has risen 37 percent, to more than 70,000. Immigration from India and other Asian countries is also increasing, though at a more modest rate.”

“As a result, Asia has surpassed Latin America as the dominant source of new immigrants to the U.S. Asia accounted for 45 percent of all new immigrants in 2012, compared to 34 percent for Latin America.”

“Almost by definition, illegal immigration is difficult to track. But Pew has developed a well-regarded methodology for calculating the size of the unauthorized population, which essentially involves subtracting the number of legal immigrants from the total foreign-born population, subject to certain adjustments.”

“The number of undocumented immigrants remains high, but illegal immigration — the number of new undocumented workers entering the country each year — has fallen close to zero.”

 A Closer Look at Who is Immigrating to the U.S.


Posted at 11:51 a.m.

Comparing Obama’s Vetoes and Executive Orders to Past Presidents

Danny Vinik points out that “other presidents … have had to use their veto power much more frequently. Franklin D. Roosevelt, for instance, vetoed 635 bills during his 12 years in office. Bill Clinton vetoed 37 bills. Obama has vetoed just two bills during his presidency.”

As for executive orders, “Ronald Reagan, for instance, issued 381 executive orders. Through almost six years in office, Obama has issued 193.”

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Posted at 11:38 a.m.

Mandatory Quarantine Rules Account for Drop in Ebola Volunteers

NPR: “The federal agency that oversees many American healthcare workers volunteering in Ebola-stricken regions of West Africa says there’s been a significant decline in the number of people who are willing to go. International aid groups attribute that drop to the mandatory quarantine rules implemented by New York and New Jersey last month.”

“‘Once the restrictions were issued, we definitely had people who said I’m going to have to back out,’ says Margaret Aguirre, the head of global initiatives at the International Medical Corps in Los Angeles. The group has about 30 healthcare workers volunteering in West Africa.”

“Aguirre says Ebola assignments can last six to eight weeks at a time because of all the safety training that’s required. ‘Many of these people are volunteering their time. And to be able to ask them to leave their work and families for that long stretch of time — plus the three weeks, 21-day quarantine — that’s just prohibitive for people.'”

“The United States Agency for International Development, which handles applications from medical personnel volunteering to serve in West Africa, says applications declined by about 17 percent after October 26th, when the rules for mandatory quarantine rules were announced.”

Posted at 11:33 a.m.

2014 on Track to be the Hottest Year on Record

Think Progress: “It has been the warmest January-October on record and last month was the hottest October on record, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported Thursday.”

“And while you wouldn’t know it from the cold temperatures in large parts of this country, NOAA’s “State of the Climate: Global Analysis,” projects that 2014 is almost certainly going to be the hottest year on record worldwide — probably by far.”

“As it has done for the last few months, NOAA plotted out several scenarios for the next two months, and they all show 2014 becoming the hottest year on record.”

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Posted at 8:10 a.m.
Energy & Environment

Another Obamacare Stumble

Jonathan Cohn comments on the news that the Health and Human Services Department exaggerated the number of Obamacare enrollees.

“Senior Administration officials swear they made an honest mistake. They’ve offered what sounds (at least to me) like a plausible explanation. But even if that explanation is accurate, the error would still be inexcusable. ”

“It’s one more stumble for a program that, for despite its very real successes, has had too many already.”

Margot Sanger-Katz contends that the mistake “reveals how all the glitches in the government’s computer system have yet to be worked out.”

“The story behind the misstatements highlights the significance of continuing problems with invisible parts of the health law’s enrollment system, and the challenges the administration is likely to face in reporting enrollment numbers in the months ahead.”

“Though the consumer-facing part of appears to be working much better than last year, the administration acknowledges that what it calls the ‘back end’ of the health insurance enrollment system is still unfinished.”

Sophie Novack in the National Journal writes that it simply “gives Republicans another talking point to support their broader attacks on the law.”

Posted at 8:06 a.m.

Supporting Immigration: Good Policy, Bad Politics

New York Times: “President Obama’s executive order eliminating the threat of deportation for millions of undocumented immigrants is good policy. It is the right thing to do. But it is a dangerous move for the Democratic Party.”

“Latinos and Asian-Americans made up only 11 percent of the electorate … Whites, meanwhile, accounted for 75 percent of the electorate. Far more than any other group, whites will decide the fate of the parties in the years to come. Unfortunately for the Democratic Party, the data suggest that immigration very much matters for whites.”

“Polls indicate that an overwhelming majority of white Americans view illegal immigration as a serious problem. A third think immigration over all is bad for the country.”

In sum: “Many white Americans see that America is changing, believe that immigration is driving many of the negative changes and know that one party stands largely on the side of immigrants while the other party stands largely in opposition. For many whites, this is a powerful motivation to vote Republican.”

Posted at 7:08 a.m.

Can Voter ID Laws Be Used to Steal Elections?

Nate Cohn: “Voter ID laws might well be a cynical, anti-democratic attempt to disenfranchise voters to help Republicans, as Democrats claim. But that doesn’t mean that voter ID laws are an effective way to steal elections. They just don’t make a difference in anything but the closest contests, when anything and everything matters.”

“The so-called margin of disenfranchisement — the number of registered voters who do not appear to have photo identification — grossly overstates the potential electoral consequences of these laws.”

“Those without ID are particularly unlikely to vote. And many who do vote will vote Republican. In the end, the seemingly vast registration gaps dwindle, leaving enough voters to decide only elections determined by fractions of a point.”

“The studies ostensibly showing a relationship between voter ID and Republican strength are dubious, at best. They often conflate changes in turnout resulting from other factors, like whether there’s a statewide election, with changes caused by voter ID laws.”

“The impact of voter ID laws is basically indiscernible in the results … Voter disenfranchisement is anti-democratic, regardless of whether it swings elections. But voter ID laws haven’t been swinging elections.”

November 20, 2014

Obamacare Enrollment Number Included Dental Plans

“The Obama administration included as many as 400,000 dental plans in a number it reported for enrollments under the Affordable Care Act, an unpublicized detail that helped surpass a goal for 7 million sign-ups,” Bloomberg reports.

“Without the dental plans, the federal government would have had 6.97 million people with medical insurance under the law known as Obamacare, investigators for the House Oversight and Government Reform committee calculated, using data they obtained from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.”

“Federal officials said in September they had 7.3 million people enrolled in coverage through new government-run insurance exchanges. They didn’t distinguish between medical and dental plans, breaking from previous practice without notice.”

Posted at 12:24 p.m.

Could Obama Use Keystone as Leverage for His Domestic Agenda?

Reuters: “President Barack Obama might be open to using the Keystone pipeline as leverage with Republicans if they cooperate on other aspects of his long-stalled domestic agenda, such as investing in infrastructure, closing tax loopholes or reducing carbon emissions.”

“After years of fighting over TransCanada’s crude oil pipeline from Canada, a Keystone deal is not entirely out of the question, sources inside the administration and others close to the White House told Reuters on Tuesday.”

“Any deal would have to yield concrete gains for Obama on his agenda. Obama also likely would insist on making an executive decision on the $8 billion pipeline from Canada, rather than letting Congress approve the permit, sources said.”

“‘Whatever the president decides, I expect it will be driven by the bottom line on carbon pollution, not by symbolism,’ one former administration official told Reuters.”

Posted at 9:05 a.m.
Energy & Environment

Which is Dumber: Gruber’s Comments or GruberGate?

Michael Hltzik in the L.A. Times argues that the Grubergate controversy is far dumber than Gruber’s “dumb comments.”

“So this is how low the debate over the most far-reaching social insurance program of our time has fallen. Never mind that the act has brought health coverage to at least 10 million Americans who didn’t have it before. Or that it has eradicated medical underwriting — that process by which insurance coverage denied policies to people with pre-existing conditions or jacked up their rates to unaffordable levels. Or that it has wiped out a broad range of traditional health insurance abuses.”

“While we’re arguing over whether a working law should be invalidated by a health economist’s casual description of the legislative process of 2009 and 2010 — the inaccuracy of which can be documented — here’s what we should be be noticing: The healthcare consultancy Avalere Health just reported that 2015 premiums for benchmark silver plans rose only 3% on average compared with 2014 among the 34 states using the federal insurance website to enroll their citizens in the ACA.”

“So tell me again why we should be fixated on Jonathan Gruber.”

“By calling Gruber the ‘architect,’ the right wants you to think that he all but cooked up the law, wrote the language, supervised its legislative strategy and political PR, whipped up all 279 votes for it in the House and Senate (or maybe cast them himself), then signed the bill as president.”

Posted at 8:58 a.m.

Is Obama an ‘Emperor’ or ‘Savior’ on Immigration?

New York Times Editorial Page: “The result will not be ideal, but no broad executive action on immigration was ever going to be. Only Congress can create an immigration system that rescues workers and families from unjust laws and creates legal pathways to citizenship. The best Mr. Obama can offer is a reprieve to people trapped by Congress’s failures — temporary permission to live and work without fear.”

The editors note that Republicans didn’t “complain when Mr. Obama aggressively used his executive authority to ramp up deportations to an unprecedented peak of 400,000 a year.”

Brian Beutler writes that Republican rage doesn’t make Obama’s actions unlawful: “It turns out that the laws on the books actually don’t say what you might think they say. Other presidents have discovered this, too. And since nobody wants to write a ‘maybe I should’ve asked some lawyers first’ mea culpa column, they shifted the debate from the terrain of laws to the murkier terrain of political precedent, norms, and procedure.”

Danny Vinik points out that Reagan and Bush also acted unilaterally on immigration, adding: “As long as Obama, or any president, for that matter, is implementing the law in line with congressional prioritiesas I believe Obama ishis actions are legal.”

But Francis Wilkinson in Bloomberg cautions: “If Obama is not departing from norms in this case, he certainly looks to be pushing the line … We don’t have a functioning Congress, and we do have millions of people living in limbo. It’s not hard to understand why Obama is doing this, and perhaps party relations in Washington really can’t get much worse. But I think they will.”

Posted at 8:45 a.m.

13 Million Americans Could Lose Insurance Subsidies

Wall Street Journal: “The Supreme Court is expected to rule next year on King v. Burwell, the lawsuit in which the federal government’s authority to provide financial assistance to people who buy insurance in federally operated insurance exchanges is being challenged under a strict reading of the Affordable Care Act.”

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“In this case, whatever the merits of the legal arguments, the consequences are significant. The Kaiser Family Foundation has done calculations based on Congressional Budget Office projections for 2016 showing how many people would get financial assistance when the ACA is fully implemented. As the chart above shows, a decision for the plaintiffs would deny financial assistance for insurance premiums to approximately 13 million Americans in 2016. More than half are in a few big anti-ACA states that chose not to run their own exchanges: Florida, Texas, North Carolina, Georgia, and Pennsylvania.”

Majority Say Ensuring Universal Healthcare is Not Government’s Job

Gallup: “For the third consecutive year, a majority of Americans (52%) agree with the position that it is not the federal government’s responsibility to ensure that all Americans have healthcare coverage. Prior to the start of Barack Obama’s presidency in 2009, a majority of Americans consistently took the opposite view.”

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“The act’s proponents have pointed out that Americans favor a number of the act’s provisions when tested in isolation, and that the act has already lowered the nation’s uninsured rate. Yet, a majority of Americans continue to say they disapprove of it, even as the ACA is making progress toward its stated goal of expanding health insurance coverage. That more than half of Americans think it is not the government’s role to make sure Americans have healthcare coverage suggests that opposition to the ACA may be centered more on its philosophical underpinnings, rather than on the specifics of its actual provisions and outcomes.”

Posted at 6:51 a.m.

November 19, 2014

Is ‘The Nice Guy’ Clouding Abuse of Executive Authority?

Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post: “Every Democrat should be nervous about President Obama’s plan for unilateral action on immigration reform.”

“Democrats should be nervous about the implications for presidential power, and the ability of a future Republican president to act on his or her own.”

“For me, the question is one of double containment: First, is there a limiting principle that would constrain the president’s authority to effectively legalize everyone in the country? Second, is there a limiting principle that would constrain future presidents inclined against enforcing other laws with which they don’t agree — and on which they’ve been unable to convince Congress to act accordingly?”

Damon Linker of the Week adds: “The rule of law is far more about how things are done than about what is done … I will be deeply troubled about how the president went about achieving this goal — by violating the letter and the spirit of federal law.”

“What is so galling about the president’s pending circumvention of federal immigration law is that the White House hasn’t even attempted to justify it on grounds of necessity — no doubt because any effort to do so would be risible. The nation obviously faces no immigration emergency that could possibly justify the kind of extralegal action that Obama is contemplating.”

“Have we really gotten to the point where the executive can ignore and even violate, on the absurdly open-ended basis of ‘discretion,’ the express intent of a federal law he is constitutionally empowered to execute — not because of an emergency, not because of a national threat, but merely because he wants to be a nice guy?”

Posted at 9:10 a.m.

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