If you believe that the best possible political outcome for Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is that he establishes himself as the face of Republican efforts to reform immigration, but then Democrats ultimately kill immigration reform, then Wednesday was a great day for Marco Rubio.

While leading Democrats had hinted for days that they would not be supportive of a new border security amendment that Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, outlined last week, once Cornyn did finally release the actual legislative text Wednesday, Democrats not only rejected Cornyn’s amendment, they refused to even negotiate with him. “We cannot accept the Cornyn amendment,” Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., told Talking Points Memo. “I’ve told John that already. The way it would change the triggers would jeopardize the path to citizenship. You should tell the people you’re lobbying that that is not going to happen. There may be other amendments dealing with the border that we can accept but not that one.”

No room to negotiate?
Both the existing S. 744 bill and the Cornyn amendment make the path to citizenship dependent on four specific security benchmarks being met. S. 744 requires: 1) a “substantially deployed” border security plan; 2) a “substantially completed” border fence; 3) implementation of E-Verify; and 4) an electronic exit system at sea and air ports. Cornyn requires: 1) 100 percent border surveillance; 2) 90 percent border apprehension; 3) implementation of E-Verify; and 4) a biometric entry and exit system at sea and air ports.

Democrats seem most upset about Cornyn’s second trigger. “90 percent trigger is totally unacceptable,” Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., told National Journal. But that 90 percent number is easily fudgeable, much more so than the completion of a border fence which anyone could go down to the border and see. If a future secretary of homeland security said the government was apprehending 90 percent of attempted border crossings, who could possibly have contrary information?

Furthermore, pro-amnesty Republicans have been falling over themselves in an effort to stress that the Cornyn amendment is just an opening offer. Rubio told Sean Hannity it was “an excellent place to start the conversation.” Would Durbin and the Democrats except 80 percent apprehension rate? Seventy-five percent? These are all made up numbers that no one could really challenge in court anyway, so who cares?

Immigration end game
Even if Democrats do end up rejecting the Cornyn amendment, S. 744 will still pass the Senate … but barely. The House will then have every excuse in the world to completely ignore it and pass their own smaller immigration bills, none of which will have any path to citizenship.

If that happens, Rubio’s big immigration gamble will have paid off. Without any messy amnesty implementation to defend, he’d be the clear frontrunner for the 2016 nomination.

From The Washington Examiner
Editorial: HHS spent $36 million on meetings for bureaucrats
David Drucker: Marco Rubio crafting tougher amendment on gov’t benefits for immigrants
Michael Barone: Silicon Valley built the surveillance state
Tim Carney: Private contractors accelerate growth of government
Sean Higgins: Teachers union gets money managers to cut ties with conservative think tank
Joel Gehrke: Top IRS officials lied about targeting of conservatives
Philip Klein: Obamacare’s rate shock hits the Buckeye state
Conn Carroll: Cornyn’s RESULTS amendment doesn’t change Gang of Eight bill

In Other News
The Wall Street Journal, U.S. Notches Biggest Gain in Oil Output: The U.S. last year posted the biggest increase in oil production in the world and the largest increase in U.S. history.
The New York Times, Data Reveal a Rise in College Degrees Among Americans: The increase, which follows more than two decades of slow growth in college completion, appears to be driven by the recent recession and the creation of new types of jobs.
The Washington Post, Dozens of attacks foiled NSA says: Gen. Keith Alexander says secret surveillance programs have thwarted “dozens” of attacks, as Edward Snowden alleges U.S. hacking targeted China.
Politico, Bill Clinton splits with Obama on Syria: Bill Clinton told Sen. John McCain he agrees that President Barack Obama should act more forcefully to support anti-Assad rebels in Syria, saying the American public elects presidents and members of Congress “to see down the road” and “to win.”

Lefty Playbook
Think Progress compares Trent Franks to Todd Akin after Franks said, “The incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low.”
Salon‘s David Sirota says Director of National Intelligence James Clapper must go.
Glenn Greenwald welcomes Peter King’s efforts to prosecute him for publishing classified information.

Righty Playbook
Mickey Kaus on the Cornyn Con.
Erick Erickson says “either Marco Rubio is being played the fool or we are being played the fool by Senator Rubio.”
A Conservative Intel poll shows Ed Markey beating Gabriel Gomez by 12 points, 49 percent to 37 percent, in the Massachusetts special election to replace John Kerry.
David French notes that government lawyers give all their money to Democrats.
Chris Jacobs on how Obamcare and big hospitals will raise health care costs.