This is a rush transcript from "Journal Editorial Report," November 22, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
STUART VARNEY, GUEST HOST: This week on "The Journal Editorial Report," the president bypasses Congress on immigration, setting him on a collision course with the GOP. Can the Republicans respond before it's too late?
Plus, Democrats move to the left after the midterm drubbing with Elizabeth Warren emerging as the party's new darling. What it means for 2016.
And a gruesome attack on a Jerusalem synagogue elicits a tepid U.S. response. Bret Stephens on America's global retreat and the coming world disorder.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There are actions I have the legal authority to take as president, the same kinds of actions taken by Democratic and Republican presidents before me that will help make the immigration system more fair and more just. Tonight, I'm announcing those actions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VARNEY: Welcome to "The Journal Editorial Report." I'm Stuart Varney, in this week for Paul Gigot.
Well, he did it. Despite warnings from Republicans, and even some Democrats, President Obama announced Thursday that he'll sidestep Congress and go it alone on immigration, using executive action to shield millions of people in the U.S. illegally from deportation. Republicans on Capitol Hill are promising to fight the move. And some GOP governors are also even eyeing lawsuits. But are the president's actions really reversible?
Let's ask Wall Street Journal columnist and deputy editor, Dan Henninger; "Political Diary" editor, Jason Riley; and Washington columnist, Kim Strassel.
Dan, to you first. Is this reversible?
DAN HENNINGER, COLUMNIST & DEPUTY EDITOR: I think it may well be reversible, Stuart, and I think it probably should be challenged in court. This is a president who has had an extremely unprecedented expansive view of his own authority. That authority was overruled 9-0 by the Supreme Court earlier this year. His interpretation of his appointment powers, his recess appointment powers. That didn't fly in the Supreme Court. This legal authority that he's citing rests solely on his interpretation of the phrase "prosecutorial discretion," which we're going to hear a lot about. If you read the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel memorandum defending this, which they put out an hour before the speech, this document is very ambivalent about whether he has the authority. Ultimately, it says he does have the authority but there are parts of it that suggest maybe it's not as expansive as he is conveying in this speech.
VARNEY: Quickly, time frame, if you try to reverse it through the courts, time frame?
HENNINGER: Well, it would probably take at least a year. You have states going to have to file -- it would be like Obamacare and getting the challenges to his interpretation of his authority to rewrite the Obamacare laws. Those two have been, in part, overturned by the courts. I think he's very vulnerable on this.
VARNEY: Kim Strassel, does this fundamentally change the way America is governed?
KIM STRASSEL, WASHINGTON COLUMNIST: I think Dan is right about maybe this is reversible through the courts. What is more complicated is politically. Because, look, what the president has done here is dictate terms. The White House keeps claiming all it's doing is encouraging Republicans to do a bill, asking them to send them something. But in fact, they have already said these are the people we're allowing to stay, five million of them. How do Republicans come back with any bill they give him if they don't specifically hue to the contours of the policy that he's already laid out? Would he sign that? So he is, in fact, telling them what to do. I think, too, the White House is not considered what this president means. If you were, for instance, to have a Republican president -- the Republicans are looking at this. They looked at the way they suspended laws and not enforced them. You're setting a precedent by which other future presidents could do a lot of things that Democrats wouldn't like. And I think it's a very concerning turn for the country.
JASON RILEY, POLITICAL DIARY EDITOR: He's done something he said repeatedly he could not do.
So he's made a reversal there. But he's not only defying Congress, Stuart, but he's defying the American people. Most people in the country want immigration reform, even of the type President Obama does, meaning comprehensive reform, but most Americans also don't want it done this way. The polls have repeatedly shown that. And the American people said that on Election Day in November when they gave President Obama a Republican Congress to work with. They want this done the right way.
VARNEY: But, if the Republicans oppose it and try to repeal it or reverse it, do they become the party of deportation? I mean I can see that --
RILEY: You're going to get the fund attempts. You're going to get attempts to override this. You're going to get governors suing. You may get nominees held up that the president wants to pass through. They will try this. And they have to be very careful as to not be painted that way or to avoid having the Democrats push that. Because I think that's what the president has shown here. He wants the issue. He does not want a solution. This is not a solution to the problems. It does not address the economic incentives driving illegal immigration. He wants this issue.
VARNEY: Kim, what are the dangers for the Democrats?
STRASSEL: I think the dangers for the Democrats are what you see Republicans really pushing on right now. This president has already had a reputation. It was an issue in the midterm elections about people feeling that he is unlawful in many of his actions, that he's overstepped his authorities as president, and that is going to be magnified now, and there's a lot of attention.
I think, too, look, interesting how much the White House and the president stressed in its briefings, in the president's speech, the fact that they are securing the border, that they are doing much more to sort of stop illegal immigration. They know that, especially given the controversy earlier this year with the children crossing border, there are a lot of people, even moderates and Independents, that are very worried that the president doesn't have a handle on the immigration system. And so this also risks sort of worrying that community of Americans even more that he is doing this for political reasons and not doing it with, as Jason said, a sound lasting solution in mind.
VARNEY: Doing it for political reasons, Dan. The tone of the remarks on Thursday night really did appear to be quite sarcastic, almost campaign style actually. What do you think?
HENNINGER: Well, yeah. And I think there's a lot to the fact that he's waving his hand and expecting the immigration service to now undertake the registration and background checks for five million people. So you've got, say, 1,000 immigration officers are going to take on and decide who among five million people can work. It sounds like Ebola all over again.
VARNEY: It is a mess and stays a mess.
HENNINGER: But it is an opportunity. I think the House Democrats have to understand they are now obliged, as Jason was suggesting, to produce a bill. And I think the American people will be watching to seal whether a bill comes out of Congress that is as comprehensive as the subject needs.
RILEY: I hope it's not one big bill. I don't think that's going to fly. It's going to have to be piecemeal. And it's probably going to start with border security, then high-skill immigrants, then agricultural workers, and so forth. But they should. The Republican Congress should pass bills and put them on the president's desk and dare him to veto them.
VARNEY: And bring it back through Congress. Got it.
When we come back, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren emerges as the Democrats' new darling. So will she pull the party left and derail Hillary Clinton's chances in 2016?
VARNEY: She has been elevated to the ranks of the Democratic leadership, and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren is wasting no time making her mark, targeting Walmart this week ahead of the holiday shopping season, and calling on Congress to pass legislation to raise the minimum wage, regulate part-time work and schedules, and ensure equal pay for women, issues the freshman Senator calls deeply personal.
We're back with Dan Henninger. Wall Street Journal editorial board member, Mary Kissel; and assistant editorial page editor, James Freeman, also joining the panel.
Mary, to you first.
Senator Warren says it's deeply personal. What did she mean by that?