Mitt Romney criticized the President’s “Dream Act” executive order saying playing politics with the issue hurts the chances of long-term solutions. His assessment, however, serves only to highlight a twofold problem for the presumptive GOP candidate. The comments display an apparent selective understanding of the overall situation in Washington and it propels his well documentedhabit of flip-flopping into the front-lines of the campaign once again.
In the middle of his “Every Town Counts” rural bus tour the former governor concluded the President’s immigration policy is only short-term, temporary action and later asserted that he had two and half years “…to deal with immigration reform… He didn’t deal with it at a time when he had the ability to put in place a long-term solution, and now he’s putting in place a little stop-gap idea.” This prompts questions about Romney’s own comprehension of the situation in Washington and the state of the country over the past 3 ½ years.
Since the beginning of the Obama presidency the country has faced the depths of the worst economic crisis in 80 years, an overdue reform of the financial system, a building crisis in the cost and access to basic health care and two unending wars. Is it worth asking Mr. Romney, with a list of priorities such as this, where would he have placed immigration reform if he was the newly elected president in 2009? Many in the Republican Party attacked the President for pursuing health care reform during a weak economic recovery. What does Mr. Romney think the criticisms would have been had Obama pushed for immigration reform instead?
Statements such as these also imply the President and the Democrats could have done anything they wished since they controlled Congress and the presidency for two whole years. But Romney, and many of the Democrats’ conservative critics, seem to forget that by January 2010 the Senate seat vacated by the late Ted Kennedy was occupied by a Republican, eliminating Democrats’ supermajority and thus their ability to break the all too frequent GOP filibusters. By most people’s calculations that means Democrats only had filibuster-proof majorities for only one year. Couple this with the coordinated strategy of obstructionism set in motion inaugural eve 2009, Democratic control of the government was a far cry from the full reign Mitt Romney and Republicans try to portray.
In addition, is it not necessary for the former governor to clarify why he feels the executive order would curtail efforts to implement long-term solutions? He did mention an executive order could simply be overturned by the next president but so can legislation by a change of power in Congress. This is evident from the numerous efforts by the current GOP-controlled House to repeal the health care reform. What is more likely is the executive order has provided time for those who do seek substantive immigration reform. It provides time for those law abiding young people who were brought here as children, who have become productive and respectable members of society from having their lives uprooted through deportation.
Concurrently, the overall reaction from the Romney camp presents, yet again, another instance of the presidential candidate flip-flopping on an important issue. During the primary race Mr. Romney favored self-deportation and held up the controversial Arizona immigration law as a model for the nation to follow. Yet, after the President’s policy announcement Romney campaign staff insisted he has consistently been open to “hearing other solutions like the DREAM Act.” despite his previous threat to repeal the bill if it came across his desk as president. In the days since Obama’s announcement, Romney has refused to answer whether or not he would repeal the order should he win in November.
Mitt Romney and the Republican Party criticize President Obama for playing politics with the issue of immigration reform yet from their own distortions of the recent past and consistent policy shifts it’s evident who is placing politics ahead of constructive solutions. On the campaign trail Romney has taken to asserting, “Actions speak louder than words”. The former governor couldn’t be more correct, actions do indeed speak louder than words and as they have on many other issues his own actions speak to a politician of disingenuous, capricious nature confounding anyone who wishes to know how he will address immigration let alone trying to predict which Mitt Romney would enter the White House on Day One.