At a Univision forum Thursday, President Obama gave up on change. “The most important lesson I’ve learned is that you can’t change Washington from the inside,” he said.
But four years ago, he told us he was running for exactly that reason: to change Washington. “Change” was the theme of his campaign. Now, instead of “Si, se puede,” he’s saying, “No puedo.”
If the president is abandoning change, he’s abandoning Hispanics. Our community was counting on him for change.
Nowhere is President Obama’s inability to produce change more evident than on the issue of immigration. He vowed to the Latino community that he would achieve reform. “La gran promesa” was a comprehensive immigration policy in his first year in office.
In 2008, he told Univision’s Jorge Ramos, “What I can guarantee is that we will have in the first year an immigration bill that I strongly support and that I’m promoting.”
On Thursday, he backed away from that promise. He said, “My biggest failure so far is we haven't gotten comprehensive immigration reform done,” and he made a series of excuses.
But as Jorge Ramos said directly to President Obama Thursday, “A promise is a promise, and with all due respect, you didn’t keep that promise.”
The president then proceeded to give a condescending civics lesson to the audience: “In our system of government, I am the head of the executive branch. I’m not the head of the legislature, I’m not the head of the judiciary.”
Hispanics don't need a lecture. We want leadership.
The president can cast blame wherever he wants, but a real leader leads. He doesn’t sit by and make excuses. And remember: President Obama’s own party had control of Congress for two full years. If he’d wanted reform, he could’ve made it happen. There really is no excuse.
Now the president is promising to keep working—to get it done in a second term. But how can we can trust him? Why should we believe him? He didn’t keep his promise the first time, and in a second term, he will no longer even be accountable to voters.
Many who watched the president’s Univision appearance surely asked themselves, “What happened to Obama?” There was no hope, no change. The concerns of Hispanics were dismissed, and he refused to take responsibility for his own record.
The man who once inspired with his rhetoric now disappoints with his excuses.
Hispanics deserve better—especially when it comes to the economy. The unemployment rate among Hispanics is 10.2 percent. That’s higher than when the president took office. It’s also more than 2 points above the overall national average.
Under President Obama, more Hispanics are living in poverty, more are out of work, more are struggling. It may not always be apparent in his words, but it’s clear in his actions: President Obama has not helped us. Latinos would be justified in their frustration.
We need a president who will never give up on changing Washington, who has the ability to bring together individuals in both parties.
In Massachusetts, that’s what Mitt Romney did. The state legislature was 85 percent Democrats. But Governor Romney didn’t give up. He didn’t make excuses. He didn’t backtrack on his promises. He got the job done.
He worked with Democrats and independents and Republicans, and he balanced the state’s budget every year. During his governorship, unemployment went down to 4.7 percent. He worked to strengthen the state’s education system for all, and after inheriting a $3 billion budget shortfall, he left $2 billion in the state’s rainy day fund.
President Obama was great at talking about “change.” Mitt Romney has actually produced change, and he’ll bring change to Washington.
His five-point Plan to Strengthen the Middle Class is expected to create 12 million new jobs in four years. By focusing on education, job training, and energy independence, the Romney-Ryan Plan will help increase take-home pay for hardworking families.
As president, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan will pursue a permanent fix to our nation’s broken immigration system. And they will work with Republicans and Democrats to get it done.
They will do what President Obama’s admits he can’t: change Washington from the inside. We expect nothing less from our presidents.
Hector Barreto is the former head of the Small Business Administration (2001 – 2006) and currently serves as the Chairman of The Latino Coalition.