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Shut it down – again

Once again the Republican far right is leading the titular head of the GOP, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), toward disaster.

OK, that’s the charitable interpretation — it’s either that, or Boehner himself is knowingly leading his party to Waterloo. 

{mosads}President Obama decided that, in carrying out the laws of the United States, he is going to focus on deporting dangerous felons, not grandmothers with families who are citizens. 

Irate at the notion that grandmas are being coddled,  while felons are given a hard time, the GOP is bound and determined to stop the president. Apparently Republicans believe holding the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) hostage is the best way to force the president to stop discriminating between felons and grandmothers. 

The Speaker seems genuinely mystified that this tactic is not working. There really shouldn’t be any mystery, though.

First, Americans generally support the president’s actions. Since his announcement, at least three different public pollsters have asked seven questions about Obama’s proposed policy changes. The margin of support for the president’s actions ranges from 18 percentage points to 47 percentage points. 

While voters don’t all appreciate the means, preferring congressional action to presidential decisions, they favor the ends. 

In the meantime, the Republican lawsuit against the president’s action is opposed by 22 points. Voters favor the president’s proposals and oppose the GOP suing to stop it. 

So just how willing are people to punish themselves in response to a presidential action they generally support? Logic would suggest, not very. So do the polls.

Voters do see closing the DHS as a self-inflicted wound. Two-thirds in a CNN poll regard shuttering Homeland Security to be at least a “major problem.” 

A few Senate Republicans, who regard themselves as more mature and thoughtful than their hothead House colleagues, understand the problem and seem angry with their counterparts. As Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) put it Sunday, “I do believe in this time, where we have the kind of threats that we have from all over the world, we certainly need to make sure that Homeland Security is fully funded.” 

So it comes as a surprise only to the ideologues of the right and their fellow travelers — and should not to anyone else — that the Republican effort to deny funding to Homeland Security in retaliation for the president’s moves on immigration is widely opposed.

Just 29 percent believe “any agreement to fund Homeland Security should include changes to immigration policy.” Sixty percent reject the GOP approach.

Opposition arises not just from the fact that Americans favor the president’s immigration plan, but also from public repulsion at legislative tactics that tie disparate issues together. Some may remember their Bible, which, in Deuteronomy, expressly forbids yoking an ox and a donkey together — this is, of course, exactly the formula Republicans are following.

Others simply resent these manipulative political games. Every time either party attempts this tactic, polls show voters reject it. Indeed, it is one of the things voters dislike about Congress.

In the end, the public makes clear it will blame the GOP for a DHS shutdown over immigration. CNN found Americans blaming Republicans in Congress over Obama by 17 points. Independents would blame the GOP by a somewhat larger margin of 22 points. Even a third of Republicans blame their party.

Congressional Republicans increasingly have a single tactic: Shut it down. It’s good for my party and bad for theirs. But more importantly, it’s terrible for our country. We can only hope the GOP learns that lesson. 

Mellman is president of The Mellman Group and has worked for Democratic candidates and causes since 1982. Current clients include the minority leader of the Senate and the Democratic whip in the House. 

Tags Bob Corker Boehner John Boehner

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