Rubio: If we don't pass immigration reform, Obama might legalize illegals by executive order

Skip to 3:45 for the key bit, in which a guy who’s willing to go nuclear in a quixotic bid to defund ObamaCare warns his party not to be too obstinate in resisting immigration reform — or else. Mark Krikorian summarizes his logic this way:

In fairness to him, Rubio’s not making this up. Amnesty shills on the left have warned, with increasing volume lately, that King Barack might decide to grant de facto amnesty to illegals via executive order for the remainder of his term if nothing passes Congress. That’s their way — and now Marco Rubio’s way — of trying to scare House Republicans into action. The surprise isn’t that O, who’s willing to dispense with key provisions from his own health-care law for political reasons, might entertain a power grab that lawless. The surprise is that a Republican senator who ran as a tea-party star seems to be treating the idea as some sort of viable Democratic trump card rather than as an egregious outrage. Why does funding ObamaCare, which, for all its faults, was duly passed by Congress, cross a philosophical red line for him whereas the idea of the president essentially seizing power from Congress over immigration doesn’t? To hear O tell it, the whole reason he’s resorted to unilateral executive action is because he’s grumpy that obstructionist Republicans won’t move his agenda. Here’s Rubio saying, “Yeah, we’d better stop doing that, so that at least we get half a loaf.” Did candidate Rubio think the GOP should also have compromised on universal health care, lest Obama pass some form of ObamaCare via executive fiat?

The worst part is that Obama himself acknowledged last month that he “probably” doesn’t have the authority to do something like this. He moved the Overton window towards the GOP, and now here’s Rubio moving it back towards the Democrats. What he should have said to the interviewer was that if O tries anything like this, he’ll file suit in federal court claiming a breach of separation of powers and move to filibuster all legislation pending in the Senate until Obama rescinds the order. Instead he’s in McCain mode: Just as Maverick seems eager to push the Democratic talking point that the GOP will never win another national election if they don’t pass some form of amnesty, here’s Rubio treating Obama’s executive overreach as a political fact of life rather than as a catalyst for serious congressional pushback. And the big punchline is that that habit of overreach actually argues against passing reform, not for it. If Rubio’s worried about an executive gone rogue (and I use the word “worried” loosely), his chief concern should be that the Gang of Eight bill will pass and then Obama will simply ignore the border-security provisions like he did the employer mandate in ObamaCare. Better to pass nothing in that case and withhold even the barest perception of congressional sanction for that sort of unconstitutional behavior than sell your constituents on all the new enforcement measures in your plan and then have Obama pick and choose which parts to enforce and which to ignore from the legislative smorgasbord you’ve assembled for him.

Exit question: How did we as a country get to the point of having to game out major legislative initiatives by first determining just how lawless the president’s response to them will be? Doesn’t that bother Rubio more than the idea of immigration reform petering out?