Monday, December 31, 2012

But Can They Multitask?

(Editorial cartoon by Ted Rall and published 12/27/12 in the Los Angeles Times.  Click on image to enlarge and then return.)

So, unless something very dramatic happens, the 113th Congress will start with dealing with the fiscal cliff and with a review of gun control legislation.  Both are contentious issues and will no doubt fill the air with ink and electrons.  The question I have is whether the new congress will be able to deal with any other issues in the next two years, issues which Barack Obama promised would be handled back in 2008, issues which are long overdue.  The one I'm thinking about right now is immigration reform

The window to pass immigration laws next year is narrowing as the effort competes with a renewed debate over gun laws and the lingering fight over taxes and the budget, according to congressional staffers and outside advocates.

Key congressional committees are preparing for a package of gun control laws to be negotiated and possibly introduced in Congress during the first few months of next year. The shift would push the debate in Congress over immigration reform into the spring.

But as budget negotiations continue to stir tensions between Republicans and Democrats, and as lobbyists take to their corners over gun laws, some are concerned that the heated atmosphere could spoil the early signs of bipartisan cooperation on immigration that emerged after the election. ...

The crowded agenda has not changed plans by advocacy groups to launch a nationwide publicity and lobbying campaign early next year to put pressure on lawmakers to support changing immigration laws.

"As horrific as the tragedy was in Connecticut, in the grand scheme of things, these issues can run on parallel tracks," said Mary Giovagnoli, director of the Immigration Policy Center, a think tank based in Washington.
"They are not in competition; they are complementary," said Angela Kelley, an expert on immigration at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank in Washington. "The White House can walk and chew gum, as can lawmakers."

"If [lawmakers] are working 40 hours a week, they should be able to get both done," she said.

Asking our lawmakers to work 40 hours a week may be expecting a wee too much.  After all, they have to go home every weekend to make sure their constituents remember who they are and their donors are kept advised.  Still, even with a 32-hour work week and a little common sense, a sensible immigration law could be crafted and passed, especially now that the GOP has seen the national demographics.

That said, I'm still not optimistic.

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