The never-mind presidency
At this intermission in the immigration debate, with House Republicans preparing to look askance at the Senate's handiwork, the argument is becoming ever stranger. It has reached a boil, especially concerning border security, at a moment when illegal entries are at a 40-year low and net immigration from Mexico has recently been approximately zero, largely because enforcement efficiency has already been substantially improved and because America's economic growth is inferior to Mexico's.
Yet some Senate Republicans support spending $46 billion over 10 years to, among other things, double the number of border agents.
The Government Accountability Office says border security in 2011 was about 84 percent effective. A much-discussed aspiration is 90 percent. So the $46 billion is supposed to purchase a six-point improvement. This embarrassing militarization of the border was designed to entice a few of the 14 Senate Republicans (of 46) who joined all Democrats in supporting the Senate bill. Some senators expect House Republicans to be swayed because a minority of the Senate minority supported the bill. These senators should trek to the other side of the Capitol and, like Margaret Mead among the Samoans, mingle with the natives.
On a Friday, the Senate received a 114-page amendment to the (by then) more than 1,000-page “Gang of Eight” bill, which the Senate passed the following Thursday. Senators can repent at leisure after they read details such as: Never mind what maps say, the Senate says Nevada is a border state. So Majority Leader Harry Reid's constituents, and those of Nevada's Republican Sen. Dean Heller, who supported the bill, can feast on border security pork.
Whatever momentum the Senate imparted to reform is a wasting asset. The House is unlikely to complete its immigration legislation before the August recess.
Four Augusts ago, Congress was busy passing — in order to find out what was in it — a different mammoth bill. During the August 2009 recess, legislators conducted often tumultuous town halls where they discovered that intensity resided disproportionately among opponents of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Opponents' anger was registered emphatically in congressional elections 15 months later, which is one reason why the implementation of the act's most onerous provisions were delayed until 2014, after the 2012 presidential election.
ObamaCare remains unpopular and there are congressional elections in years divisible by two. So, last Tuesday the administration said this about the act's mandate that in 2014 large employers provide expensive health care for their workers or pay a substantial penalty: Never mind.
Never mind that the law stipulates 2014 as the year when employers with 50 full-time workers are mandated to offer them health care or pay fines. Instead, 2015 will be the year.
Unless Democrats see a presidential election coming.
This lesson in the Obama administration's approach to the rule of law is pertinent to the immigration bill, which at last count had 222 instances of a discretionary “may” and 153 of “waive.” Such language means that were the Senate bill to become law, the executive branch would be able to do pretty much as it pleases, even to the point of saying about almost anything: Never mind.
George F. Will is a columnist for The Washington Post and Newsweek.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Not to be left behind, speedy Steelers are on the fast track in NFL
- The IRS scandal: Do the Lois Lerner emails still exist?
- Rossi: Steelers will make small strides this season
- Steelers have plenty of new faces at wide receiver
- In last preseason game, a final audition for some Steelers
- Jury deliberating sex assault charges against ice cream shop owner
- Penguins GM insists new coach Johnston was no afterthought
- Customers anxious for details about Highmark transition plan for W. Pa.
- McKeesport Area teacher fired amid sex scandal returns to school
- Jolie and Pitt officially tie the knot
- Starkey: Bucs still battlin’