May 19, 2024

GOP s dissipating issues

Today’s Events in Historical Perspective                                                                     
America’s Longest-Running Column Founded 1932
The GOP’s dissipating issues
By Douglas Cohn and Eleanor Clift         
          WASHINGTON — Inflation and immigration are the clarion calls of the GOP. Come November they will not be.
          It is welcome news when Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell declares inflation under control and interest rates poised to come down (and we humbly add, so did we). The stock market soared to new highs and the Biden campaign breathed an exceptionally large sigh of relief. A recession has been ruled out, and help is on the way.
          Presidential elections turn on such things, and come November, one of the biggest beefs Republicans have with the Biden administration, soaring inflation, will have been vanquished.
          Republicans rightly had something to scream about last year with inflation running rampant. But if we stay on the same trajectory, yelling about inflation will soon sound sour and out-of-date.
          The other issue that Republicans are counting on to sink President Biden’s reelection is immigration. Two million people a year have crossed the border illegally under Biden’s watch. The administration resisted calling it a crisis but agreed to significant reforms that would limit the number of people claiming asylum. 
          Under the leadership of Republican Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma, a bipartisan border control bill passed the Senate last month, heralding the first significant overhaul of border policy in decades.
          It was what the GOP demanded in terms of a crackdown, but House Speaker Mike Johnson refused to bring it to a vote after ex-President Trump said he did not want to give Biden a legislative win. After calling the record number of border crossings an invasion and a threat to national security, Trump blatantly chose politics over country and undermined the bipartisan effort to address the problem. Campaign fodder trumped Trump’s skewed sense of patriotism.
          Biden also has some cards to play. He is likely to take executive action on his own to harden the border. Republicans say he has all the authority he needs to fix the border, which was only partially true, and is now truer since the passage of the bi-partisan budget.
          What Biden could not do on his own was hire more border agents and immigration judges. Biden can play the blame game too, reminding voters that Trump killed bipartisan legislation that would have gone a long way to fixing the border crisis.
          The point is that inflation and immigration, the GOP’s two killer issues, will be neutralized come November and voters will turn to the economy, which is improving, and abortion rights, where Democrats have an edge over Republicans.
          In Tuesday’s Ohio primary, the Trump-endorsed candidate, Bernie Moreno, easily defeated a more Establishment Republican to challenge Democrat Sherrod Brown for his Senate seat. As the only Democrat left in Ohio who has won statewide, he is running for his fourth term unapologetically as a pro-union progressive and is viewed as vulnerable.
          Enter a super PAC affiliated with Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer which spent two million dollars to declare Moreno the true conservative in the Republican Primary race as opposed to Matt Dolan, an Ohio state senator, also running as a conservative but not a MAGA acolyte of Donald Trump.
          Dolan would have been a big get for the GOP. His father is a billionaire owner of the New York Knicks and New York Rangers, franchises handed down from his father. The family name alone would have made Dolan the instant frontrunner.
          Now, with a little help from the Democrats, Moreno is the GOP candidate, the avatar of MAGA running on his support for a federal ban on abortion in a state where a constitutional amendment to protect abortion rights won with a 13-point margin last year.
          Instead of two political parties, there are three: Democrats, traditional Republicans and MAGA Republicans. MAGA cannot win on its own, a lesson Trump has not yet absorbed. Democrats are taking a risk backing the MAGA candidate on the theory he will be easier to beat. It worked in 2016 and 2020, denying the GOP Senate seats that a more traditional conservative would have won. And as they say in sports, if the play works, run it again.
          Eleanor Clift’s latest book Selecting a President, and Douglas Cohn’s latest books The President’s First Year: The Only School for Presidents Is the Presidency and World War 4: Nine Scenarios (endorsed by seven flag officers).
          Twitter:  @douglas_cohn
          © 2024 U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.
          Distributed by U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.

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