On this Sunday's Meet the Press, Lieutenant Governor of California Gavin Newsom pointed out the sad and sorry fact that the GOP needs to get "permission" from the talking heads on right-wing hate radio in order to act on immigration reform.
Newsom was responding to his fellow panel member, Republican strategist Alex Castellanos, who let the cat out of the bag while accusing President Obama of using the immigration debate to polarize Republicans on the issue, as though they needed any help with that.
DAVID GREGORY: Alex, the question of whether Democrats want the issue on immigration, the reality is Democrats do want the success, and as you look at what the president's doing, how he's appealing to various groups in his coalition, he wants to lock these folks in. This is the president thinking about the long-term prospects of the Democratic party. And he also knows Republicans need a deal on this.
ALEX CASTELLANOS: Well, I think he's maybe thinking about the long-term, but he's also thinking about two years from now and taking the House. And going back to the first two years of his administration when he could run the table and of course do anything he wants, this is his last shot at legacy. So keeping Republicans polarized on immigration-- is not bad political strategy for him.
What I think you're going to see Republicans do though, is look, federal government's job is to enforce the border. But we've got to move somewhere else. You know, talk radio has already given Republicans a little room to move on immigration. But if r-- right now, immigrants have no economic value in the American system.
They have political value to Democrats. If you had governors and states and municipalities compete for immigrants, if they had a larger voice and say, "Hey, we need some hard working people here in the state to grow our food, take care of our kids, we need some bright college graduates to stay."
And you let Arizona compete against Mississippi, business will go to Arizona. They'll go to where the workers are, where the brains are. So states, I think you're going to see a more bottom-up approach, I hope from both parties. And when s-- we get there, then I think we'll begin to address--
DAVID GREGORY: Let me have Gavin-- Gavin and Carly both can address this. The broader agenda, beyond immigration, one of the things that I heard from the president on State of the Union night, and I wanna get the sound bite ready the-- where he talks about government, is essentially he's saying to Republicans, "Look, I not only won reelection, but I'm winning the debate on the economy. And when it comes to economic growth, we are not just going to obsess about the debt." This is what he said about what government outta be doing.
BARACK OBAMA : It is not a bigger government we need, but a smarter government that sets priorities and invests in broad-based growth. That's what we should be looking for.
DAVID GREGORY: Because he said, Carly, "Just tackling the debt right now is not going to grow the economy."
CARLY FIORINA: Well, first of all, it's a great sound bite you just played, and absolutely everyone can agree with it. The question is, so what? What do we do about it? Here's the problem--
DAVID GREGORY: What is it, that government has a bigger role than Republicans acknowledge and actually sparking economic growth. That's the argument.
CARLY FIORINA: Yes, that is the argument. It is also a fact that when debt and deficit continue to grow, government has less and less room to invest. That's why you're having so much trouble dealing with the sequester, which just factually is $110 billion a year which is .3% of our annual federal spending. And yet people are concerned with angst about where to cut, because so much of our--
CHRIS MATTHEWS: But how can you say that government's crowding out when we have 2% interest rates right now? We could be doing really good infrastructure. When would people buy cars? When interest rates are down. When do you buy a house? When interest rates are down.
DAVID GREGORY: Yeah
CHRIS MATTHEWS: It's a good time for public investment--
CARLY FIORINA: And--
CHRIS MATTHEWS: --and we should do it.
CARLY FIORINA: I don't even disagree with that.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: --crowding.
CARLY FIORINA: But-- but this economy is growing at 2% or less. In other words, the American economy is not performing to its full potential. We should be growing at 3% to 4%. We should be--
CARLY FIORINA: --creating more jobs. We shouldn't have--
CARLY FIORINA: --7.8% unemployment.
GAVIN NEWSOM: All of this just-- strikes a chord with me because it comes down to the lack of leadership period. We have leaders that aren't leading, they're quarreling. Alex said something, I think, very profound and significant. And he's right, that it's a depressing point you made. This notion that somehow we have to get permission because talk show hosts are saying, "Well, now it's okay." It's suggestive of the world we're living in. Sequestration almost certain. We're going to go over this new cliff, this manmade cliff. In other words--
CARLY FIORINA: Politician-made cliff.
GAVIN NEWSOM: And the-- but-- but-- and remember, this was not Obama coming up with sequestration, this was Obama being forced into a corner by Republicans on a completely fraudulent notion of the debt ceiling and this was his reaction to that in order to move onto--
CARLY FIORINA: I'm willing to stipulate--
CARLY FIORINA: --both parties--
GAVIN NEWSOM: But it's-- it's time for us to lean in again and hold these guys up to a higher level of expectation. You wanna move the mouse, you gotta move the cheese. We've got to change incentives in this country for good behavior, and not the kinda behavior we're seeing.
I'll believe they've actually given them an ounce of "room" if something actually gets passed in the House.
h/t Media Matters