A Nonserious Question

Chris Bowers asks "Does anyone here think that working to stop GOP from destroying the filibuster in 2005 was still a good idea?"

The first problem with this question is that the GOP did not try to destroy the filibuster - they tried to destroy the judicial filibuster, arguing that it violated the Constitution. They would not have touched the legislative filibuster.

The second problem with this question is Bowers not imagining what a GOP President and GOP Congress would have achieved with the elimination of the filibuster. You thought the actual Bush tax cuts were bad? They would be TWICE as bad without the filibuster. And twice as hard to undo as they would have been passed in regular order, meaning that to undo them would require passage of new legislation.

You can be for eliminating the filibuster on principles of democracy, as Ezra Klein is. But you can not be against the filibuster, as Chris Bowers is, based on advantage to Democrats and progressives.

What goes around comes around.

Speaking for me only

< Aspen Sheriff Candidates Debate Drug Policy | GDP Growth Slowing >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    He'd be better off (5.00 / 3) (#1)
    by ruffian on Fri Jul 30, 2010 at 12:13:12 PM EST
    pondering how to get the press to call it a filibuster, rather than 'the 60 vote Senate threshold'.  That's what the Republicans were much better at in the Bush era, an no doubt will be again if they regain control of Congress.

    Public opinion is what discourages use of the filibuster. Why throw away a tool just because you can't seem to use it effectively?

    You said it! (none / 0) (#4)
    by Militarytracy on Fri Jul 30, 2010 at 12:44:24 PM EST
    Public opinion discourages filibuster or fuels it!  A filibuster going on used to be the biggest news around and highly focused on.  The beltway wants little to do with public opinion though these days...its all about them, and their lobbyists, and fatcat donations.

    Public opinion doesn't care about the filibuster (none / 0) (#7)
    by s5 on Fri Jul 30, 2010 at 03:23:54 PM EST
    People don't understand it, and they don't care to. I can't overstate this enough. I blog on non-political sites, and as soon as you start explaining why Senate rules are really what's blocking this-or-that, eyes glaze over, and all the blame gets directed at "the government".

    You can explain it simply like the Republicans (5.00 / 2) (#8)
    by ruffian on Fri Jul 30, 2010 at 04:05:39 PM EST
    did to great effect over the potential judicial filibusters in the Bush years. Basically "those weasels on the other side won't let us have a simple up or down vote".  And they didn't let the press get away with sugar-coating it.  Have you heard any Dems even attempt to do that, until very recently?

    The discussion is moot (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by Makarov on Fri Jul 30, 2010 at 12:20:03 PM EST
    If Democrats in Congress used the same tool Republicans did to get around the filibuster - the budget reconciliation process - then they'd only need 51 votes to pass just about any of the legislation they'd like.

    The question isn't 'what can we do to get around the filibuster' or 'how do we get 60 votes', it's 'Why aren't Obama, Pelosi, and Reid using budget reconciliation to pass the policies they claim to support?'

    Additionally, why did Pelosi and House Dems vote in favor of not passing a 2011 budget, meaning they CAN'T use reconciliation next year?

    Reconciliation (none / 0) (#6)
    by s5 on Fri Jul 30, 2010 at 03:19:16 PM EST
    is not a magic wand. It can only be used within a limited scope, and legislation passed under it expires. Exceptions can be made, of course, but getting those exceptions requires ... 60 votes!

    wrong on a couple counts (none / 0) (#9)
    by Makarov on Fri Jul 30, 2010 at 11:19:37 PM EST
    To meet the 'limited scope' one only has to spend or raise funds. You can't craft lone regulations, but you can change the tax code, give everyone in the nation health care, almost anything you'd like to do.

    Second, if something is ruled by the Senate parliamentarian to be outside 'the Byrd rule', the President (Vice-President Biden) can overrule them.


    I recommend reading some history (5.00 / 2) (#5)
    by s5 on Fri Jul 30, 2010 at 03:17:58 PM EST
    The filibuster has traditionally been a conservative tool. Its purpose is to stop legislative progress, which is an inherently conservative goal. And we've seen this in action over the decades, from civil rights to health care and now with climate. So, I was also in favor of ditching the filibuster in 2005. Tax cuts (can pass under reconciliation) and war (always patriotic), two centerpieces of the conservative movement, were able to pass without breaking a sweat. And in exchange we, what, stopped a small handful of judges from reaching the bench? All while Bush's extremist Supreme Court nominees sailed to confirmation. What did we get out of saving the filibuster? Not much, if anything.

    The counter-example we always hear is, well, without the filibuster, Social Security would have been privatized under Bush! But it wasn't the filibuster that saved Social Security - it was enraged public opinion. In the end, Bush's plan didn't even have close to majority support in Congress. It was radioactive. Good social programs are durable and easy to hang on to. The hard part is getting them passed in the first place.

    We've watched the filibuster undermine the liberal agenda every step of the way since Obama took office, and it will do so again during the next Democratic administration. Yes, someday we might wish we had the filibuster as a tool when we're in the minority again. But taking the long view, this country would be much better off without it.

    Climate has been on my mind lately, now that the climate bill has been declared "dead" yet again. The longer we wait to deal with climate, the harder and more expensive it becomes to solve it. Yet once we get a good climate regime going, businesses will come to depend on it (many will profit from it, and many jobs will get created as a result of its existence), and it will be impossible to repeal it.

    So this is what I don't understand. We'd rather put off progress on climate and energy to some future unknown date, so that we can reserve the right to defend a program that we'll never be able to pass anyway. Or, hey, maybe we'll be able to pass it under the current rules in a decade (or in a generation) from now, after China already owns the market for clean energy, after a few more coastal cities are wiped out, after high employment becomes a fact of life in America, after a few more energy supply shocks cripple the economy again. All so we can defend a hypothetical carbon tax or cap-and-trade program that we can't even get passed until it's long overdue or too late to make a difference.

    This just doesn't make any sense to me. Lower the barriers to passing progressive legislation (the barriers to passing conservative legislation are already low to non-existent), get stuff done, then stand proud on your accomplishments. That is how you defend the liberal legacy in this country, not by playing with procedural tricks in the Senate. Don't believe me? See: Privatization, Social Security.

    They need to educate the public (none / 0) (#3)
    by Militarytracy on Fri Jul 30, 2010 at 12:40:38 PM EST
    and encourage the public to enact consequences on pathetic pols that are exposed. They could get their stuff passed then.  The party of NO would become the party of the exposed.  Anyone think that Anthony Wiener's meltdown is worth two days of news cycle and full explanations and debates?  But an educated public is too dangerous to both parties these days.  A rhetoriced public is the only useful manipulatable public.