On Thursday, October 24th, 2014, President Obama felt it necessary to hold a press briefing on his renewed push for immigration reform. A more pessimistic interpretation would be that the President is trying to divert attention away from the critical faults in the new Obamacare Marketplace website. A more optimistic interpretation would be that the President is trying to get someone done. Either way, President Obama’s main focus should be on fiscal issues, not a major immigration reform initiative. Despite what the President said in his news conference, the government shutdown and default threats are not behind us. The doomsday threat has simply been delayed by a few months. This means there are only a few months to draft, debate, and pass a bipartisan Budget, debt ceiling increase with a Debt reduction plan of some sort, and potential tax reform legislation.
Clearly, our Nation cannot simply pay attention to one set of issues at a time; however, issues like immigration reform are best addressed at this time as secondary issues that can be passed along the way or after the heaviest lifting is done. As such, the President of the United States should not be giving a press conference at this point on an effort that diverts attention away from what should be our main focus. Instead of the President elevating the immigration reform issue in such a public manner, he should have delegated the task until he was certain the House was on the verge of a vote that would result in the passage of the stalled Senate plan, or another. That said, it seems House Speaker Boehner might be willing to accept the current legislative effort while the votes might actually be there, thus this effort could be a confidence building exercise.
What President Obama, House Speaker John Boehner, and Senate Leader Harry Reid cannot do is allow immigration reform to become the main issue our government is trying to solve at this time. While the Right and the Press are doing the American People a disservice by diverting our main focus back onto Obamacare, their efforts, at the very least, highlight emerging issues that need addressed immediately, before they cause harm to a large portion of the American People. Healthcare.gov needs fixed, along with other Obamacare related issues, but the excess attention will do very little to accelerate the mending of the website while further legislative reform efforts will only drive division. (The day’s House hearing on the Marketplace website should have been held after fixes have been completed as House hearings are essentially fact-finding commissions, thus they are mainly useful when trying to undertake future endeavors).
Moreover, President Obama has done himself a disservice by pushing immigration reform in the manner he did, because it reinforces the impression that the President is unresponsive to the shortcomings of Obamacare and out-of-touch with what the County needs.
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