11/06/2013 @ 2:57PM
Paul Roderick Gregory

The President’s “misspeaking” on his Obama Care pledges have doomed any chance of immigration reform, or any other major reform, for that matter. Obama may go into campaign mode on immigration reform to gain Hispanic votes, but it will be only talk. There can be no comprehensive reform of anything – immigration, entitlements, or the national debt — if legislators and, more importantly, the voters do not trust the President’s word.

Obama has declared immigration reform his top legislative priority for the rest of his term. In June of 2012, the Senate passed the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, which spends more on border security, provides provisional legal status and eventual pathway to citizenship for people living in the country illegally, and outlines reforms for the existing visa programs for immediate relatives and skilled workers.

House Speaker John Boehner declared the Senate bill a nonstarter and expressed hope that the House would produce its own bill. A House bi-partisan group of four Republicans and four Democrats began drafting such a plan but has subsequently fallen apart with only one Republican remaining. The chances of passage of any comprehensive immigration reform during the Obama years are about zero.

Irrespective of your views, comprehensive immigration reform requires a high degree of trust. Under the Senate bill, the president must enforce border security, decide the disposition of criminal undocumented workers, and set visa regulations, among other things. The Republican s in Congress cannot take the political risk of passing immigration reform to see parts of it enforced, other parts ignored, and yet other parts made unrecognizable by executive order.

One Republican member of the collapsed bi-partisan House team put it this way (House immigration group collapses):

“If past actions are the best indicators of future behavior; we know that any measure depending on the president’s enforcement will not be faithfully executed,…It would be gravely irresponsible to further empower this administration by granting them additional authority or discretion with a new immigration system.”

The Obama administration has made a practice of not enforcing legislation it does not like (DOMA, no child left behind, medical marijuana, gay spousal benefits, to name a few) and by executing other initiatives by executive action (de facto execution of the Dream act). Added to this history of selective enforcement, we have the problem of the President’s veracity. Can we take the President’s solemn pledge to raise border security to legislated levels seriously after he broke an even more solemn promise to the American people on his legacy Obama Care legislation (If you like your policy or your doctor you can keep them).

After George W. Bush was reelected, he declared he would use his political capital to reform social security. He failed because of deep rooted opposition to change but also because his credibility had been damaged by the oft-repeated charge: “Bush lied.”

Unless Obama restores his credibility with the American people, he must forego any major initiatives. Major changes come about only when there is trust in the nation’s chief executive.

Stated one Republican House member after he resigned from the bi-partisan immigration drafting group: “The American people do not trust the president to enforce laws, and we don’t either.”

The mainstream media could not ignore Obama’s two Obama Care “misspokes.” The legitimate public outrage was too great. Will media awareness that Obama has been untrue on Obama Care raise their curiosity about earlier incidents – the millions of stimulus jobs, the Benghazi video, no-tax-increase pledges, and so on – and cause them to see the pattern? Obama has gone to the well too often. He has three years to restore a modicum of credibility. If We the People can no longer believe what he says, his will be a lost presidency.