Politico reports that President Obama has been meeting with Republican business leaders and former Bush administration officials to try to enlist their support in putting pressure on House Republicans to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill. See White House seeks Republican immigration help, November 10.


Politico writes:

"President Obama hasn't given up on immigration reform, but he still needs a way to break through with House Republicans.

The White House has reached out to former George W. Bush administration officials, conservative business leaders and selected House members, all in search of a way to hone a message that can move House leaders without scaring them off.

In closed door meetings, they have urged the White House to find a way to reach out to the GOP that doesn't center on Obama banging the podium telling Speaker John Boehner to bring a bill to the floor."

Politico also writes that "the president's team simply doesn't know where to start with an inside [House] game."

There seem to be two conflicting theories about White House involvement according to the Politico article. One is that the White House isn't being aggressive enough:

"Business leaders and conservatives meeting at the White House say they want the administration's involvement at some level.

'I was surprised how aggressive people in that room were, how aggressive they were on saying, "We need White House leadership, we need a plan, we need for you to be driving this thing''', said a person in the room with [White House aides] McDonough and Munoz."

The opposite theory is that that Obama is pushing too hard for reform and thereby antagonizing the House Republicans. Politico writes:

"Tamar Jacoby, president and CEO of the pro-reform business group ImmigrationWorksUSA, said the biggest obstacle to immigration reform in the House is that Republicans 'don't want to do Obama any favors' after the toxic shutdown and debt limit battles.

'When Obama's out there saying, "I just won a big battle...and I'm demanding you do this", no one's going to want to do it on those terms', Jacoby said. 'My fear is that Obama's not really helping [reform] when he's sort of scolding about it all the time.'"

Regular readers of my bloggings will remember that this is the same Tamar Jacoby who predicted in the LA Times this past summer that the House Republicans would produce a string of "piecemeal" immigration bills that would add up to comprehensive reform like beads on a necklace. My comment at that time was that the House leadership was more likely to produce a noose.

What both the "Obama isn't aggressive enough" and the "Obama is too aggressive" theories are missing out on is that the House GOP leaders, driven by their powerful Tea Party wing, seem determined to strangle reform with their "piecemeal" noose no matter what the president does.

This would leave only one course of action open that would have any chance of moving reform, since neither the behind the scenes approach nor the bully pulpit are likely to have much success with the "deport-em-all" GOP zealots who are holding up reform and still do not accept America's first black president as being legitimate himself.

This is to move ahead with "Plan B" and suspend all but the most critically urgent deportations (such as dangerous violent criminals and national security threats), at least until a real reform bill comes out of the House and goes to conference with the Senate.

True, this would take enormous political courage. But there may be no other way to achieve immigration reform any time soon.