I have to confess, I had absolutely no hope whatsoever that Paul Ryan as Speaker of the House would make our national politics any better than they were when John Boehner was Speaker of the House. On the other hand, even I'm surprised by the speed with which he's shattered whatever illusions the mainstream media might have tried to encourage a gullible electorate to have.
To begin with, there's the commitment to repeal Obamacare, which is certainly going to go nowhere for at least the next two years. And it doesn't even come with a commitment to "replace" it, which is not surprising, given that Ryan and his colleagues have no intention of doing so. After all, this is coming from a man who demanded that "family time" come with his new job, but has absolutely no intention of guaranteeing such time for the rest of us. Which, once again, makes it clear what the modern Republican Party is all about: not limited government, not personal responsibility, not fiscal sanity, not even family values, but power. Their power over the rest of us.
Unfortunately for the 11 million or more undocumented residents among us (more popularly known as "illegals"), "us" includes "them." And our new Speaker apparently has no intention of helping them either. His rationale: the President can't be trusted to enforce the law.
Calling this patent nonsense is a little bit like calling his position on family leave hypocrisy, i.e., too obvious for comment. Nevertheless, it's worth repeating a few basic points, as they would otherwise tend to get lost in the noise that masquerades nowadays as news coverage.
Ryan's assessment of the President's untrustworthiness is ridiculous. Everything Obama has done or proposed in the area of administrative relief is based on his lawfully-defined authority to extend prosecutorial discretion to the application of immigration law, based on current circumstances. As it turns out, one of those circumstances is the seeming unwillingness of Congress to consider any legislation that would address not only the plight of the 11 million, but more generally bring our immigration system in line with the demands of a world that is becoming more and more integrated all the time.
And immigration is not, contrary to the way in which Republicans treat it, a stand-alone issue. Immigration affects every aspect of American life, and is inextricably link to every aspect of it. It is an economic issue, a national security issue, a research and development issue, a cultural issue, an educational issue, and yes, a family issue as well. Ryan's home state is no exception; immigration has a tremendous impact on Wisconsin, as it does on all 50 states.
Worst of all, Ryan was part of a House majority under Boehner that stubbornly refused to consider a comprehensive immigration bill that was passed by the Senate in 2013 with 68 Republican and Democratic votes. The House Republicans could have voted it down, debated it, amended it, and more generally used it to stake out a position on the issue. They pretended the issue didn't exist; that, as Republicans, they have the power to make reality disappear, and thereby gain more power as a result.
And, with the President's more recent administrative proposals on immigration, the fantasizing continues in the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which is delaying a final decision on a suit against those proposals until an appeal to the Supreme Court can no longer be made it a timely way. The Court knows that the President is right, and further knows that the Supreme Court would have no choice but to come to the same conclusion. That's why they are sitting on the case rather than deciding it.
Whether in the courts or the Congress they control, Republicans have no alternative vision of what America should be, or how America should get there. They have no agenda, no vision, no principles at all except the maintenance of a corrupt status quo that favors their contributors over the rest of the nation. They are outnumbered, and in opposition to objective reality. And the way in which they have chosen to respond to this can only be described with one word: cowardice.
But that word doesn't just apply to Speaker Ryan, or the members of his Congressional majority ...