S seems like you just can’t win. For example, on one hand, Republicans criticize President Obama for not being more specific about the spending he would reduce to avoid sequestration, across-the-board budget cuts. On the other hand, they criticize him for being too specific about what he wants immigration reform to look like.
This week’s most vocal critic on immigration has been Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who has joined a group of eight Republican and Democratic senators working on reform legislation. But Rubio’s harsh words for Obama’s ideas seem more about him recapturing his footing among conservatives who oppose reform.
A Miami Herald analysis of Obama’s proposals, which were leaked to that newspaper and other media outlets, showed little contrast to what Rubio has said he would support — including a pathway to citizenship for currently undocumented residents and beefed-up border security.
But their similar positions didn’t stop Rubio from declaring that if Obama’s proposals are ever presented as legislation, they would be “dead on arrival,” adding that the president’s ideas “would actually make our immigration problems worse.”
The response was disappointing. Perhaps Rubio, who may be a 2016 presidential candidate, felt he had to appease reform skeptics, who had considered him one of them. After all, only three years ago, Rubio was saying there shouldn’t be a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.
His change in position was apparently part of the Republican Party’s acknowledgment that it can’t be successful in national elections without more support from Hispanic voters. So Rubio’s criticism looks like he is trying to have his cake and eat it, too, by supporting reform while criticizing anything Obama proposes.
That’s fine, if in the end there is real reform, but it’s a hell of a way to get things done.