Mitt Romney has recently dishonestly attacked President Obama’s executive actions on immigration on the grounds it is only “temporary” and political. Romney’s attack stresses that Obama didn’t pass a permanent legislative solution during his first term, when Democrats controlled both houses of Congress, and that should prove that Obama is not serious about immigration reform. From Romney’s speech to NALEO (via CNN)
For two years, this President had huge majorities in the House and Senate – he was free to pursue any policy he pleased. But he did nothing to advance a permanent fix for our broken immigration system. Instead, he failed to act until facing a tough re-election and trying to secure your vote.
Last week, the President finally offered a temporary measure that he seems to think will be just enough to get him through the election. After three and a half years of putting every issue from loan guarantees for his donors to Cash For Clunkers before immigration, now the President has been seized by an overwhelming need to do what he could have done on Day One. I think you deserve better.
Some people have asked if I will let stand the President’s executive action. The answer is that I will put in place my own long-term solution that will replace and supersede the President’s temporary measure.
For someone who doesn’t follow legislative fights closely, which is most of the country, this may seem a solid criticism. Obama and Democrats did fail to get the DREAM Act passed. If we had a parliamentary system, and prime minster Obama with a large majority didn’t implement the changes he promised, then Romney’s argument would be a completely fair and strong attack.
What makes Romney’s statement on this issue so deeply dishonest is that he knows we have a horribly unrepresentative legislative structure full of accountability destroying rules. Under Obama the DREAM Act did win majority support in votes in both houses of Congress. The only reason Obama didn’t enact this “permanent” solution is because a minority composed of Mr. Romney’s fellow Republicans in the Senate filibustered the bill.
That is why this dishonest attack is taking political cynicism to a new level. Republicans use questionable voting rules to stop Obama and the Democrats from passing laws he promised to support, despite having majorities in Congress. Then they attack him for not getting the laws passed, even though he had majorities. The sad thing is that this dishonest claim could easily work, since most people don’t follow legislative fights closely.
I can think of no better example of why the filibuster is fundamentally horrible for democracy. It is literally being used to make a mockery of basic democratic accountability. If it can be used to stop an incumbent from governing, and then the opposition party can successfully attack the incumbent for failing to govern, the idea of accountability has been perverted beyond recognition.