Obama Embraces Another Republican Plan With Immigration Reform



A recurring thread on this site is that Barack Obama, far from being a radical socialist, governs like a moderate (or Burkean) conservative. One of his first acts as President was to have dinner with prominent conservative columnists David Brooks, George Will, and Charles Krauthammer among others. His original cabinet consisted of more members of the opposite party than any administration in US history. His choice for his next Secretary of Defense is Republican Chuck Hagel. There is even a group that consists of prominent Obama-supporting conservatives, like Colin Powell, called the “ObamCons.”

Obamacare was based on Republican ideas, touted by the Heritage Foundation, was presented as an alternative to single payer, and was implemented first by Mitt Romney in Massachusetts. Cap and Trade is the market based alternative to heavy handed EPA regulations and had broad Republican support. Even The American Conservative has pointed out Obama’s foreign policy looks a whole lot like George W. Bush’s, while his domestic policy looks like Nixon’s.

Enter immigration reform. The deal that was reached by a bipartisan group of eight Senators now has the support of the White House. Jon Avlon points out that this deal looks a whole lot like the one that George W. Bush advocated, but failed to pass:

Take a look back at President Bush’s 2006 televised address to the nation onimmigration reform and read it alongsidePresident Obama’s Las Vegas take on the same subject this Tuesday. The style may be different, but the substance and sentiment are essentially the same.

In both cases, there are calls for increased border security paired with a temporary guest-worker program and requirements for businesses to e-verify their employees. There are increased visas, incentives for skilled immigration, and an eventual pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented workers in America. Above all, there is the commitment to the idea of America as a “nation of immigrants” and a sincere attempt to reconnect our functional reality to this animating aspiration.

Avlon also notes one last fact to boost Obama’s conservative credentials: that he has been more aggressive in his border enforcement and deportation enforcement policies than any Republican president, George W. Bush included:

But one final irony is worth noting. The current Gang of Eight plan learns the lesson of opposition to the 2007 proposal by front-loading border security before any progress toward a pathway to citizenship is made. The trigger mechanism and metrics for establishing this success are still unclear. But the fact is that border security dramatically increased during the Obama administration’s first term, with officials almost doubling the number of agents patrolling the border from what was in place when Bush made his speech to the nation. The walls have continued to be built, and criminal deportations have hit record highs. Combined with the effects of the Great Recession, which reduced demand for undocumented workers, the Obama administration has quietly accumulated a record of success on a front usually considered a conservative policy priority.

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6 Responses to Obama Embraces Another Republican Plan With Immigration Reform

  1. Pingback: Noam Chomsky: Obama Basically A Moderate Republican | Reason and Politics

  2. I don’t believe Obama is interested in either progressive ideas or conservative ideas. He’s interested in fundamentally sound ideas that will achieve their publicly-stated goal, and doesn’t particularly care where they originated. America would be a much better country if all its politicians thought this way.

    • I think you’re right. I think in his heart he’s center left, but his reality and pragmatism cause him to govern as, what would normally be considered, overall center right.

      I like that Obama pulls good ideas from all over the political spectrum and I agree with you that we’d a whole lot better off if others did the same.

      • Obama is certainly a realist and a pragmatist. Those traits are the mark of a smart politician. Regarding his personal philosophy, I suspect the conservative view of him as a left-wing liberal comes closest. This may be surprising coming from a progressive, but I’ve never bought his supposed religious convictions. I know this sounds cynical, but I’m inclined to believe Obama is a lot more secular than he’d admit. America has not yet advanced to the point where a self-identified agnostic, atheist, or non-Christian, could be elected president. Notice that I referred to him as “liberal” instead of “progressive.” There is a difference which has been largely obscured since the 1960s. Obama’s tepid support of labor is my basis for this distinction.

  3. Any more socialist isn’t used as a description of political views and actions, rather it is an insult. It seem much of the time people who call Obama a socialist have little to no understanding of the term. To them it just means he is bad. Also it seems many many of Obama’s opponents only oppose his plans because they come from Obama not because the idea is flawed.

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