President Obama not only offered his own immigration reform plan, but he also planted the seeds for potential Republican self destruction.
Here is a clip from CNN:
The president said,
Members of both parties, in both chambers, are actively working on a solution. Yesterday, a bipartisan group of senators announced their principles for comprehensive immigration reform, which are very much in line with the principles I’ve proposed and campaigned on for the last few years.
So at this moment, it looks like there’s a genuine desire to get this done soon, and that’s very encouraging. But this time, action must follow. We can’t allow immigration reform to get bogged down in an endless debate. We’ve been debating this a very long time. So it’s not as if we don’t know technically what needs to get done.
As a consequence, to help move this process along, today I’m laying out my ideas for immigration reform. And my hope is that this provides some key markers to members of Congress as they craft a bill, because the ideas I’m proposing have traditionally been supported by both Democrats, like Ted Kennedy, and Republicans, like President George W. Bush. You don’t get that match-up very often
So — so we know where the consensus should be. Now, of course, there will be rigorous debate about many of the details, and every stakeholder should engage in real give-and-take in the process. But it’s important for us to recognize that the foundation for bipartisan action is already in place. And if Congress is unable to move forward in a timely fashion, I will send up a bill based on my proposal and insist that they vote on it right away.
The president’s immigration reform proposal includes four parts, “First, continue to strengthen our borders. Second, crack down on companies that hire undocumented workers. Third, hold undocumented immigrants accountable before they can earn their citizenship; this means requiring undocumented workers to pay their taxes and a penalty, move to the back of the line, learn English, and pass background checks. Fourth, streamline the legal immigration system for families, workers, and employers.”
Since he came from the Senate to the presidency, Obama spent much of his first two years in office watching his agenda get bogged down in congressional trench warfare. The attitude of second term President Obama is completely different. He is the one telling Congress what he wants from them. If they drag their feet, or if Republicans in the House or Senate try to bog down the legislation, he is going to send his own bill to the Congress and demand a vote.
Obama wasn’t just showing leadership in his speech. He was also sowing the seeds for potential Republican self destruction. The scenario goes something like this. A group of congressional Republicans decide that they are going to kill immigration reform. They bog down the legislation in the congressional swamp of inaction that is our current legislative process. The president sends his bill to the Congress for a vote. Democrats and enough Senate Republicans come together to pass his bill. If House Republicans reject his legislation, the table is then set for Democrats to build on their support from Hispanic voters in 2014 and 2016.
The president’s is allowing the Republicans to pick their path. They can either do the right thing for the country, or they can sentence themselves to political oblivion by pandering to the immigration hardliners in their party. Obama is leaving nothing to chance. Whether Republicans realize it or not, their future as a viable national party may depend on the choices that they make on immigration reform.
President Obama has made sure that there will be a heavy political price to pay if Republicans try to obstruction immigration reform.