After the Obama administration’s tumultuous week with the IRS, Associated Press and Benghazi scandals, Republicans have been playing offense and the Administration and the Democrats playing defense. How both parties move forward is important as voters — especially Latino voters — are still expecting action on the economy and jobs, immigration and health care. On the other hand, some are saying these setbacks for the Administration are great fodder for Republicans in the 2014 midterms — but could it backfire?
Republican Carlos Gutierrez, former Commerce Secretary under George W. Bush and co-chair of the center-right Hispanic Leadership Network, says, “Republicans are right in pursuing the IRS scandal, which sends shivers down the spine of the average American, because these are tactics that are used in authoritarian governments,” says Gutierrez. “If an authoritarian leader wants to go after an enemy, they send the IRS-type government arm,” he adds.
Today Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio said he was “concerned” about a report that the Obama administration had investigated a Fox News reporter regarding a possible national security leak, and said “we must insist” it was not done for partisan reasons, saying the IRS scandal shows “this White House has created a culture where we do have to explicitly make these kinds of requests.”
Cid Wilson, a New Jersey-based Democratic activist and national Dominican-American leader, says the IRS scandal needs to be dealt with to ensure this does not happen again, but says this has also been an issue for Republican administrations as well, saying the NAACP was targeted during the Bush administration. Wilson lashed out at Congressional Republicans.
“Americans should start calling out the Republicans for what they are; they haven’t gotten any legislation passed, and all they’re doing is obstructing,” said Wilson. “They’re getting paid very nice salaries, they’re getting the best health care, but want to defund health care for the rest of Americans,” adds Wilson. “I think the Republicans, especially in the House, need to stop pleasing their extreme right-wing and do what’s right and put country first.”
Gutierrez, who started a political action committee to fund and to back Republicans who favor immigration reform, concedes there is a danger of Republicans “overplaying their hand.”
“I am worried about the IRS scandal potentially slowing down or in the worst case derailing immigration reform,” says Gutierrez, who says he would advise Republican legislators to continue pushing for immigration reform while not belittling the IRS issue.
“It would be imprudent to allow the desire to deny Obama a legislative victory to supersede the Republicans’ need to recover their electoral viability at the national level by appealing to the Latino vote—and to waste the opportunity that immigration reform presents them to do so,” Hastings said. “It would be imprudent—scandalous, even, in its own way. And it would surely demonstrate a low IQ,” she added, in a not-so-veiled reference to the Jason Richwine/Heritage scandal.
Democrat Cid Wilson says, “Republicans are making a huge strategic mistake if they think the only thing Latinos are concerned with is immigration.
“If they try to block the highly qualified Thomas Perez for Labor Secretary, you will see major reaction next November for Republicans who blocked the first Latino appointment of Obama’s second term,” Wilson adds.
University of Maryland political scientist Stella Rouse says Republicans could use the IRS and other issues to put aside voting for immigration reform if it gets too tricky in the House. “It will be interesting to see if Republicans come back and say ‘we were working on immigration reform but then we had to deal with the IRS scandal, and this took priority,'” she says.
Democrats, Rouse states, should focus on the fact that the economic indicators are better, and tie comprehensive immigration reform to improving the economy. “Democrats don’t always use the momentum to help themselves out,” says Rouse. “On immigration, it’s now or never. You can’t let that die again.”