Wish I could say I was surprised by this:
President Obama vowed Monday to bypass Congress and pursue unilateral changes to the country’s immigration system, defying House Republicans who say his executive actions are part of the problem.
The president, speaking in the Rose Garden, said he is forced to go it alone because the House has failed to act on a comprehensive overhaul. He said Speaker John Boehner informed him last week the House will not vote on an immigration bill this year.
“America cannot wait forever for them to act,” Obama said. He said he’s launching a new effort to “fix as much of our immigration system as I can, on my own, without Congress.”
The president’s announcement is sure to infuriate congressional Republicans. Obama is pushing for new executive actions in defiance of Boehner’s vow last week to pursue a lawsuit against the president over alleged executive overreach. Even before Monday’s announcement, Boehner and his colleagues alleged that the president has gone too far in making changes without Congress to immigration policy, the Affordable Care Act, environmental regulations and other issues.
As for his conversation last week with the president, Boehner said he only told Obama what he’s been saying for months: that until the public and elected officials trust him to enforce the law, “it is going to be difficult to make progress on this issue.”
Obama, though, said he would still prefer to seek changes via Congress, and he’d continue to press the House to act.
But for the time being, the president announced two steps. First, he’s directed Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and Attorney General Eric Holder to move “available resources” from the interior to the border to address security. Further, the president said he’s directed a team to “identify additional actions my administration can take on our own within my existing legal authorities to do what Congress refuses to do and fix as much of our immigration system as we can.”
The usual arguments about the President’s routine and disturbing tendencies to act unilaterally without Congressional approval apply, but there’s something else at play here as well – which you won’t see any op/eds written about in the New York Times. And it’s not rocket science: Obama and Congressional Republicans are at constant odds because of the President’s – and Senator Harry Reid’s – failure to demonstrate leadership in compromising with the opposition. We have a divided government. The US House is controlled by Republicans. The US Senate is controlled by Democrats. The President and Reid continually demand that the House make all the concessions when it comes to key and critical legislation they want to pass, and if they don’t slide far enough to the left, they’re “obstructionists.” Well, what about Reid and Senate Democrats who refuse to “meet in the middle”?
Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan both worked with Congresses that were largely hostile to their agendas but they still ultimately got things done, even if it wasn’t always (and it frequently wasn’t) exactly what they wanted. Our current President can’t make that same claim – because he doesn’t know how to lead and never has. For all that talk about “bridging the partisan divide” in 2008, he has little to show for it. He can blame the House GOP all he wants to, but the truth of the matter is that Obama is not much for compromise nor disagreement, and he won’t let a little thing like Congress stand in his way. What the President should really be doing when playing the “woe is me” blame game is looking straight into a mirror, because that’s where the lion’s share of the problem exists.