Ryan’s Disingenuous Dodge on Immigration

Speaker Ryan to MTP on the subject of immigration reform:

“I don’t think we can trust the president on this issue,” Ryan told NBC’s Chuck Todd. “The president has proven himself untrustworthy on this issue because he tried to unilaterally rewrite the law himself. Presidents don’t write laws. Congress does.”

A couple thoughts immediately spring to mind:

  1. If the Congress thinks that the President is overstepping his bonds on this topic, they best solution would be to pass actual legislation.
  2. The reason that the President has acted unilaterally is because no legislation has been passed (see #1).

The notion that Congress cannot engage this issue legislatively is because the president in “untrustworthy” (which has been the claim for years now) is a total dodge that covers up the fact that the Congress is utterly unable to act on this issue.

The Congress has been abdicating its responsibility on this issue for quite some time now, and that is not the fault of the executive.

FILED UNDER: Borders and Immigration, Quick Takes, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. And the President’s unilateral action is currently stayed by Federal Court Order and may not withstand legal review.

    As I said when the President made his ultimatum after the 2014 elections, it’s entirely understandable why Congress doesn’t trust the President on this issue. Furthermore, given that we’re headed into an election year there’s no way Congress is going to tackle a major issue like this even in the best of circumstances.

  2. @Doug Mataconis: I wholly concur that the Congress is not going to act on this issue during an election year. But the charge that the reason they cannot act on this matter is because the president is untrustworthy on the issue makes no sense. If you want to bind the executive, then pass legislation.

  3. Indeed, if the legislative branch truly does not trust the executive on a particular policy area ceding that policy to the executive is precisely the wrong thing to do, yes?

  4. Well, given the fact that we are in an election year and that the President’s policies are stayed by a Federal Court order and unlikely to go into effect while he is in office, the political logic likely argues more strongly in favor of foregoing reform now and waiting until after the election.

  5. @Doug Mataconis: But that doesn’t explain the long-term reticence on Congress’ part (going back to the Bush administration) to seriously address this topic nor does it validate the long-standing argument that Congress couldn’t act because Obama.

    The real truth is that the Republicans lack the capacity, or even the real interest, to address this issue.

  6. Well, since there doesn’t seem to be any real high-priority call among voters for Congress to address the issue beyond those who are deeply invested in the issue, perhaps it does. It may well be the case that most Americans support something like the 2013 Senate bill, but there’s little evidence they consider it a high priority issue and thus little downside for Congress in not addressing it immediately.

  7. Robert in SF says:

    I interpreted Paul Ryan’s comment to mean,

    “We can pass reforms, but if the President can’t be trusted to enforce or administer the laws as we pass them, then what’s the point? We need commitment from, and confidence in, the President to execute the laws as written, not be a rogue President who does whatever he wants regardless…”

    But then, I haven’t researched Mr. Speaker’s further comments or positions on this topic.

    One would think the Republic party members would eat that kind of plain-spoken disparagement and demagoguery up, which would be an incentive for him to actually say that.

  8. James Pearce says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    It may well be the case that most Americans support something like the 2013 Senate bill, but there’s little evidence they consider it a high priority issue and thus little downside for Congress in not addressing it immediately.

    And yet, we never hear anyone in Congress admitting to such a cynical take. We just keep hearing about how the guy in the White House can’t be trusted.

  9. stonetools says:

    The reason for Paul Ryan’s comment: the Republican base CAN be trusted-to vote out any Republican who favors immigration reform.

  10. Grewgills says:

    Republican intransigence on this issue predates Obama’s election, so this claim is completely transparent to anyone not invested in claiming it’s Obama’s fault.

  11. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Doug Mataconis: It seems to me that political “logic” always favors inertia. “We can’t trust…” is simply the dodge for the moment. After 2016, Ryan will find another.

  12. Davebo says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    So we can’t do anything after an election (see 2014) and we can’t do anything before an election.

    And it’s all because neither Obama and apparently also George W. Bush can’t be trusted.

    That’s some stellar logic in support of inaction there Doug.

  13. C. Clavin says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    it’s entirely understandable why Congress doesn’t trust the President on this issue.

    You cannot be that naive and gullible and still provide a valuable service to your clients.
    I suggest you resign your JD as clearly it was a fluke.

  14. wr says:

    @Doug Mataconis: “Well, since there doesn’t seem to be any real high-priority call among voters for Congress to address the issue beyond those who are deeply invested in the issue,”

    In other words, it doesn’t matter that this is life and death for a significant minority of Americans. White people don’t care, so it’s not worth dealing with.

  15. MikeSJ says:

    If Ryan was going to tell the truth it would probably sound something like this:

    “Our donors, the country club crowd, want full amnesty for the illegals and open doors for tens of millions more.

    Our base, the people who actually vote us in, want all of the illegals kicked out and immigration curtailed significantly. If we did what our Donor Class wants our actual voters would tar and feather us and we’d be out in the next primary. Our ability to con them has been degraded significantly in the last couple of years. Simply put they aren’t buying our B.S. anymore.

    Lets blame it on Obama and call it a day instead.”

  16. gVOR08 says:

    @C. Clavin: Off topic completely, but I went to movies the last two weekends and in both a lawyer was a good guy, Bridge of Spies and Truth. Truth is apparently going to be largely ignored, so I’ll give it a plug here. Heck of a cast and well acted.

  17. gVOR08 says:

    There are really two possibilities here. A) is that Ryan could push immigration reform through his caucus if they trusted Obama. In which case Ryan would say it’s Obama’s fault. B) is that there isn’t a prayer of getting meaningful reform past his own Freedom (sic) Caucus, in which case he can either say that his caucus are a bunch of weasels or he can find some way to blame Obama. As multiple choice tests go, doesn’t this really seem pretty obvious?

  18. SKI says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    s I said when the President made his ultimatum after the 2014 elections, it’s entirely understandable why Congress doesn’t trust the President on this issue.

    I was surprised at this and wondered what evidence you used to demonstrate why it was understandable not to trust President Obama on this issue, so I actually went back and read the linked article.

    Was further surprised to find that “trust” wasn’t used at all in the article (or the comments) and that the gist of the article was that Obama was wrong to issue an ultimatum and that it was unreasonable to expect the GOP would actually grapple with the issue after the election when it hadn’t before the election.

    Care to explain what facts makes you think that it is a rational or honest argument to not act on immigration reform due to a lack of “trust” in the President? Or even what on earth that means to you?

  19. Thomas Weaver says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    I think you could include the dimmowatts along with the repubs on not doing anything. I seem to remember a promise from Obummer regarding this very subject in or before 2008 during which the lefties controlled both house(s) which Nancy P and Harry R being bowing, scraping servants to the weiner-in-chief failed to do anything.