How Should Republicans Answer Obama on Immigration? An Early Read

There's a preemptive campaign inside the GOP against responding to an executive action with a government shutdown.

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Republican Governor Scott Walker speaks at a news conference inside the Wisconsin State Capitol February 21, 2011 in Madison, Wis.

Photographer: Eric Thayer/Getty Images

Should Republicans respond to President Barack Obama's executive actions on immigration by shutting down the government? Expect this to be a topic of discussion at the Republican Governors Association news conference Wednesday afternoon at its gathering in Boca Raton, Fla.

I asked Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and major donor/fundraiser Fred Malek what they think, and their answers reflected the calculations possible 2016 presidential contenders and financial backers are making as they game out how to push back on Obama's plans and worry about missteps by congressional Republicans.

"[Congress] should go to court," Walker said, noting Obama's own previous public doubts about how much he could do on his own. "I think the court would ultimately side with the Congress on this–it's separation of powers."

Malek, who also traveled to the conference, said he was worried about Congress forcing a government shutdown in response. "Shutting the government down is a message of futility and surrender,” he said. "It accomplishes nothing except enrages the public. It ought not to be done." He said he's frustrated that Obama plans to go forward, though, because it will complicate the legislative action on immigration that is "sorely needed."

Walker said that a shutdown should be seen as a "last-case scenario"–a bad one at that. "When there's other viable options out there, I think it's much preferable. Particularly early on, I'd like to set the stage with some optimistic things." He wants the Republican Congress to spend the next year pushing a "very aggressive agenda" of lowering the tax rate and enticing companies to move jobs back to the U.S. from overseas, revisiting the Keystone vote, and repealing Obamacare, all of which would be nearly impossible with a government shutdown.

At the same time, he said, "ultimately they have to stand up and take on this abuse of power. I mean, the president went from the audacity of hope to the audacity of a power grab. And I think they have to stand up and face it, not just because of immigration but I think in the larger context just for balance of power." 

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