This is a rush transcript from "Journal Editorial Report," November 15, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
PAUL GIGOT, HOST: This week on the "Journal Editorial Report," President Obama reacts to the Democrat's midterm rout by moving left and ramping up his rule by regulation. From immigration to climate change to control of the Internet, we'll preview the coming confrontations with the new Congress.
Plus, the Supreme Court takes up another ObamaCare challenge as one of the law's chief architects sparks outrage with some controversial comments.
And tensions rise as Russian troops and tanks pour over the Ukraine border. So what is Vladimir Putin's next move?
Welcome to the "Journal Editorial Report," I'm Paul Gigot.
Well, if there was any question about what President Obama's response to the midterm rout would be, it was answered this week with the administration making it clear that it's moving left and ramping up its rule by regulation. And from a China climate deal to imminent executive action on immigration, the president and his party seem to be set on a collision course with the new Republican Congress. So how should the GOP respond?
Let's ask Wall Street Journal columnist and deputy editor, Dan Henninger; assistant editorial page editor, James Freeman, and Washington columnist, Kim Strassel.
So, Kim, most presidents who take a beating in a midterm election, do -- they either sound contrite or they move to the middle or both. This president doesn't seem to be doing that.
What is the White House calculation in so directly confronting Congress in so many areas?
KIM STRASSEL, WASHINGTON COLUMNIST: I think the argument here that the president has taken on is that he believes that they didn't lose this election because the voting public disapproved of them. They lost it because they didn't turn out their base. They didn't do enough to energize their side. And so he's going to run out and he's doing climate environmental issues, he's going to do immigration to talk to Hispanics, and the idea is to rally up his base and get them on board on the path to 2016.
GIGOT: So they don't think that Obama's popularity was at all an issue here? They think that it's basically that -- what the president put it in the compressed conference to those two-thirds of the public who didn't vote --
GIGOT: I heard you and we're going to mobilize those for next time. And they do that by saying to the Republican Congress, we don't care what you do, I am going to do what I want to do.
STRASSEL: Yeah. Nancy Pelosi said this, too, in her press conference. She said the Republicans didn't win because people approve of Republican policies. We just had a bad night.
GIGOT: Yeah, that was a bad night, all right.
OK, all right.
DAN HENNINGER, COLUMNIST, DEPUTY EDITOR: They are delusional. Colorado, a state we talked about a lot on this show, Senator Mark Udall, the Democrat, ran on climate change and the war on women. Mark Udall was not a bad candidate. He pressed their message very hard, and -- and supporting him, and he lost because Cory Gardner talked about other things, like benefits from energy and the economy. So it's not as though the message did not get out. It's that in these elections, they lost. And as Kim is suggesting, they now think it's because their base didn't vote.
GIGOT: So, James, immigration. Looks like that will be one of the early new regulations. An executive order that may provide amnesty, stop deporting up to as many as six million people. We'll have to wait to see the details. What's the president's calculation here? Because in my view, that will really make it very hard to get any kind of durable reform out of this Congress.
JAMES FREEMAN, ASSISTANT EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR: Well, I guess depending on whether you think it's delusional or cynical. If the calculation is that we've got to get the minority turnout, we've get Hispanic turnout, we, the Democrats, back to where it was in previous years, I think his calculation is, so what if I could get a deal and solve the immigration problem with the Republicans, the better play politically is to start the fight with a constitutionally dubious move that forces them into an argument where they once again sound like the anti-immigrant party.
FREEMAN: Other than that cynical political calculation, I don't see how anyone could think this is the right move.
GIGOT: Well, it doesn't solve a lot of the immigration problems, such as what is the incentive for coming over. Right? It's economic attraction. So you want to give a kind of quest worker program, flexibility, so people can come over, but then go back, based on labor demand. And they are not solving the problem for agricultural workers. They're not solving the problem for high-tech workers or engineering or science degrees, nothing like that.
FREEMAN: And the Republicans in both the House and the Senate, the leadership, have said, I think just about every way they know how, a lot of those things can get done, not necessarily in a big bill, but piecemeal. They think they can get the votes to get all of those reforms, but he doesn't want the solution.
GIGOT: It looks, Kim, like he's going to be sowing chaos. Maybe that's not -- I mean, that might not be too strong a word in the Republican ranks, as they are divided over how to respond to this, with some people saying let's use the power of the purse to cut off funds for it, which, of course, he would veto, which could potentially lead to a shutdown. How do you think the Republicans will respond and what should they do?
STRASSEL: I'm in the cynicism camp of James here. This is why he did it. He did it to divide them.
GIGOT: You know, Kim, you weren't cynical before you went to Washington.
STRASSEL: It's your fault, Paul. You sent me down here.
But they are going to have to -- that's the most important thing, what you just said, they have to retain unity in the party and have a strategy for going forward. The best thing they can do is go out and criticize this as extra-legal authority, talk about, as you just did, the fact that this is not solving the problem, in fact, for Hispanics. And then get to work on an actual immigration law. Maybe done in a piecemeal fashion and send it to him that does solve the problems and dare him to not accept what they've sent him.
GIGOT: All right, I don't have a lot of confidence that the Republicans are going to act like that, but we also have the Democrats basically re-electing their leadership, Nancy Pelosi in the House and Harry Reid in the Senate.
HENNINGER: And bringing Elizabeth Warren into the leadership.
GIGOT: The popular Senator, who doesn't like banks and --