A near-constant GOP refrain since President Barack Obama took office in 2009 has been that he has failed to lead on legislative issues.
Last week, the outlines of an administration proposal on immigration reform became public. Obama stressed the proposal would take the form of a bill only if Congress gridlocked on the issue.
Republicans in Congress immediately howled their complaints. U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., complained the president's initiative would undermine efforts in Congress. U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said it was "half-baked and seriously flawed," even though it was nearly identical to Rubio's proposals. Obama's effort to develop a plan, various GOP members of Congress said, was "very counterproductive" and "dead on arrival."
In 2011, when the issue was entitlement reform, Republicans in Congress blasted Obama for failing to provide a plan. They complained that Obama failed to present detailed proposals on deficit reduction. He exhibited a lack of leadership, they said, in failing to craft a budget acceptable to both parties.
The truth is that Obama cannot win. If he tries to stay out of the way of Congress, he is "failing to lead." When he supports any idea — even if it's one Republicans previously supported — the GOP runs the other way.
Both parties seem to recognize the need for immigration reform. Instead of whining about Obama, the Republican-controlled House and the Democrat-controlled Senate need to reach a compromise. It's hard work, but it's what Americans expect of their elected leaders.
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