November 7, 2012
It’s time for US President Barack Obama to think big. Syria’s civil war and Iran’s nuclear capability will continue to give the president plenty of opportunities to make his mark on history in foreign affairs. But the hope of any further major achievement in domestic policy will have to overcome two hard realities: Republican control of the House of Representatives and aging Americans’ effect on the federal budget.
What the president needs is some form of political jujitsu that also solves the country’s long-term budget problems. Meanwhile, one of the biggest messages for Republicans from this election is that their electoral prospects hinge on bringing a larger fraction of Hispanics into the GOP fold. So immigration is an issue that puts them in a box: either they play ball, or they get tarred further as the anti-immigration party, which is politically deadly.
Now is the perfect time for the president to tackle immigration reform. He already has put immigration reform on the agenda, but there is a danger that he will think too small and miss the potential of the right kind of immigration reform to strengthen the economy and shore up the long-run government budget. But the key to the economic and budgetary magic of immigration reform is to dramatically increase the level of legal immigration allowed each year.