President Obama made the case for his immigration reform priorities yesterday in Nevada, but all ears in Washington were first glued to Rush Limbaugh‘s radio show where Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., continued his charm offensive aimed at diffusing conservative opposition to granting illegal immigrants citizenship.
“There’s this false argument on the left that conservatives and Republicans are anti-immigrant and anti-immigration,” Rubio told Limbaugh, explaining why he took the lead on immigration reform, “And we’re not. Never have been. To the contrary we are pro-legal immigration.” Limbaugh agreed with Rubio on the need for defusing liberal claims that conservatives are racist, but doubted Rubio’s ability to find common ground with Obama on how best to deal with the 11 million people currently in the country illegally. Rubio then frankly admitted that common ground may be impossible:
The president has an important decision to make here in about an hour when he gives his speech. He can either decide that he wants to be part of a solution, or he can decide he wants to be part of a political issue and try to trigger a bidding war. I’m not gonna be part of a bidding war to see who can come up with the most lenient path forward. … If in fact this bill does not have real triggers in there, or in essence, if there is not real language in this bill that guarantees that nothing else will happen unless these enforcement mechanisms are in place, I won’t support it.
Two hours later in Las Vegas, Obama did just that, demanding a quick and certain grant of citizenship to those here illegally. “But for comprehensive immigration reform to work, it must be clear from the outset that there is a pathway to citizenship. … And if Congress is unable to move forward in a timely fashion, I will send up a bill based on my proposal and insist that they vote on it right away.”
The gulf between Obama’s timetable for citizenship and Rubio’s may be wider than many people realize. On Monday, Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., who has also signed on to Rubio’s framework, told Hugh Hewitt that it will take at least 15 years “before anybody has the opportunity to petition for citizenship, so it’s a long time.”
Rubio also hinted that Democrats would have to resolve the increased costs from Obamacare before he signed off on a deal. “If Obamacare is available to 11 million people, it blows a hole in our budget and makes this bill undoable,” he told Limbaugh.
As much as conservatives talk radio stars love Rubio, they will certainly hold him accountable for the promises he made to them personally on their shows. If the eventual Senate bill expedites citizenship earlier than 15 years, and fails to trim back Obamacare, it is hard to see how Rubio can support final passage.
From The Washington Examiner
Examiner Editorial: Obama gets all the fluff that’s fit to air
Phil Klein: Immigration reform could boost cost of Obamacare by hundreds of billions
Michael Barone: Better tools for immigration reform than in 1986
Sean Higgins: Big Business and Big Labor team up for Big Amnesty
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