And now, they're coming for your Social Security money - they want your fucking retirement money - they want it back - so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street. And you know something? They'll get it. They'll get it all from you sooner or later. Because they own this fucking place. It's a Big Club: and you're not in it.
"Romney won’t have 60 votes in the Senate. But if he has 51, he can use the budget reconciliation process, which is filibuster-proof, to get rid of the law’s spending."
— Ezra Kleinreflects on President Romney’s potential chances and methods should he try repealing the ACA.
I’m not sure when, if ever, the DC Commentariat will get this through their heads: the next time the GOP holds the Presidency and a non-supermajority in the Senate, the filibuster will be eliminated approximately 30 seconds into the new Congress. Period, the end, carve it in stone.
Reconciliation won’t even be an issue with ACA repeal. It will be a simple majority vote, no filibusters allowed because there aren’t any allowed for any reason. Same with the functional elimination of Medicare, Social Security, and all the other Glibertarian wonders that await us under the Ryan budget plan when and if Romney wins. There’s simply no other way to get their preferred policies through, and the next time they have control of these levers of power they will get their policies through, no matter what it takes. Eliminating the filibuster will be among the more minor procedural changes and will be lost in the shuffle that heralds the end of the New Deal and basically all of the legislative 20th century.
Those are the stakes. Just when, exactly, will anyone in DC realize it? Sometime six to eight years after it all transpires, apparently. I’m assuming David Brooks already has an editorial in the can praising the end of filibusters. For Democrats, anyway.
"[You] can constantly rationalize a deeply anti-democratic system on grounds of imagining scenarios where a brave minority of progressive senators are the only barrier to horrific right-wing policies. But you don’t have to imagine how a filibuster-wielding Republican minority can bring the country to a virtual standstill. We’re living in that world right now."
— Ed Kilgoreis right, but the real root of the problem is that only some of the country is living in that world. So far as I can tell, FOXnews watchers are convinced that it’s the Democrats who are bringing the country to a standstill by not offering to “reach across the aisle.” Look no further than this NewsHour discussion of Dick Lugar’s defeat and its broader meanings. Turns out he was run out of town because “he’s commended by many as one that does reach across the aisle, but, unfortunately, in our mind, that’s a one-way road. The other side, the Democrats, don’t seem to do that. And, in fact, they advocate that, but in their mind, that’s we surrender, we being the Republicans, would surrender to their ideals.”
When, exactly, did that demand for surrender happen? Because I remember nothing but repeated pleas on the part of The Democrat: please, take our Social Security, our Medicare, our Whatever, but just don’t blow up the country today Mr. GOP.” And, in return, the numerous GOP counteroffers (aside from Ryan-plan mandated elimination of these programs) were? …
This belief in Democratic intransigence, though, is amazingly widespread and typically accepted as fact (cf. Ifill’s complete non-reaction to this preposterous statement. One can only conclude that it must be pretty close to 100% accurate). Then you get to the proportion of “serious person” type folks that think both parties are equally at fault for gridlock. Then and only then do you get to the sad lunatics who think the GOP has been sanding the gears and bears most of the blame for inaction these past few years that just happen to coincide with Obama’s presidency and just happens to coincide with a similar and explicitly stated purpose on the part of GOP leadership in both the House and Senate (to sand the gears and hurt Obama). But why bring pesky facts into this?
And so, because of all this and more, the only political party that’s going to eliminate the filibuster in my lifetime is the GOP. It’s been so for a very long time now.
And, as I’ve said many times, the filibuster will be eliminated exactly 30 seconds after a new Congress convenes in which the GOP holds the Presidency and fewer than 61 chairs in the Senate. And that’s 2012 in a nutshell. If you like the social safety net, you’d better goddamned well get out and vote. Early and often. The ACORN way.
"Americans are hurting across this country, and the president’s out there campaigning. Why isn’t he governing? He doesn’t — he doesn’t have a jobs plan even now."
— Mitt Romney, who must be referring to the fact that the GOP minority in the Senate has already filibustered said “jobs bill” to death and plans to filibuster its pieces to death as well. That pretty much means “Obama has no jobs bill,” right? After all, it’s been uniformly reported as “Democrats fail to pass…” and “Obama jobs bill fails” and never, ever the decidedly shrill “GOP blocks…” or even “Republicans outmaneuver Democrats on jobs…”
Note to Anderson Cooper: this is precisely the sort of thing you might mention next time it comes up in a debate amongst the folks vying for the Republican nomination for President of these United States. To quote some future Sam Jackson movie: “You the moderator? Then moderate, motherfucker.” Or we’ll just let Watson do it the next time. Frankly, I don’t see how Our Computational Overlord could do any worse.
"Most Republican voters believe, with good reason, that Romney stands a strong chance of winning the nomination and beating President Obama. The question is whether he would put repeal front and center—whether he would emphasize it in the general election campaign, and whether he would go to the mat for repeal once in office. Would Romney’s campaign build enough momentum for repeal to achieve 60 votes in the Senate and defeat a potential filibuster? If not, would Romney be willing to advance repeal in the Senate via reconciliation, the complicated and unconventional process that takes only 50 votes but which would also require a far greater expenditure of political capital?"
— Jeffery H. Andersonmakes me wonder if he’s even been paying attention. If we assume that the posited chain of events occurs: GOP holds some kind of House majority and gains a new but non-60 vote majority in the Senate (and, of course, President Mittmentum) then it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to derive the complex psychohistorical formulas for what happens next?!?!?
The GOP eliminates (by simple majority) the filibuster on the first day of the new Congress. The MSM declares this an entirely reasonable, “sensible center” approach to governing. Wholesale dismantlement of the New Deal follows, coupled to and justified by the oncoming tax revenue collapse from a 0% effective tax rate on the rich and consumption-based, maximally regressive tax on everyone else.
It’s what they’ve been talking about for years. They are entirely serious. They mean to do it at the first opportunity, and this would be it. There will be no fiddling with reconciliation or anything approaching “normal order” as we define it in 2011. How many times do they have to say this stuff before someone in the MSM takes them seriously and asks a follow-up or two? Or, for that matter, before The Democrat starts using these positions against them. (Shrill! Class War!!).
The far-right GOP candidates and elected officials are not “blowing smoke” or “providing red meat” for the “true believers.” This is who they are. Everyone else can kindly go die in the streets.
42 Republicans voted to filibuster Goodwin Liu’s judicial nomination today:
The Republicans who said they’d never filibuster a judicial nominee? They filibustered a judicial nominee. The Republican “moderates” who said they found these tactics distasteful? They filibustered Liu, too. When the dust cleared, how many GOP senators were willing to give this nominee an up-or-down vote? Just one: Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski.
In one of the great surprises of the era, meaningful filibuster reform is going nowhere and Ezra Klein reports that:
…this process kicked off because Democrats were furious at Republican abuse of the filibuster. It’s ended with Democrats and Republicans agreeing that the filibuster is here to stay.[…] Both parties are more committed to being able to obstruct than they are to being able to govern. That fundamental preference, as much as any particular rule, is why the Senate is dysfunctional.
Indeed. Under the agreement we do get a few nice things, in that secret holds will apparently go away, there’s a big cut in the total number of appointees that the Senate must approve, and there will be no more of this “read the bill” nonsense.
Anyone that believes that the next time the GOP has the Senate and the Presidency and but also lacks a 61 vote majority, whether or not McConnell himself is still around and running the GOP Senate, that they won’t instantly eliminate the filibuster using a simple majority vote at the start of a new Congress is smoking something. And nary a peep will be made on that day about today’s “agreement.” That would be shrill.
It would do nothing to the august nature of the Senate to require actual debate take place to uphold a filibuster, and furthermore to put the onus of that continuing operation on the minority. Instead, we punish the majority, and often times the vast majority, on whom today rests the need to fight off constant quorum calls and schedule the entire legislative year around various “marination” periods that automatically and interminably ensue any time any actual action starts to happen. It is just incredible that this malignant process, one that arose by chance and error in the first place, was deemed “too good to do away with.”
Ezra Klein relates that an array of left-leaning interest groups have signed onto a letter spelling out an eight point description of what the Senate should be doing on the first day of the next Congress:
On the first legislative day of a new Congress, the Senate may, by majority vote, end a filibuster on a rules change and adopt new rules.
There should only be one opportunity to filibuster any given measure or nomination, so motions to proceed and motions to refer to conference should not be subject to filibuster.
Secret “holds” should be eliminated.
The amount of delay time after cloture is invoked on a bill should be reduced.
There should be no post-cloture debate on nominations.
Instead of requiring that those seeking to break a filibuster muster a specified number of votes, the burden should be shifted to require those filibustering to produce a specified number of votes to continue the filibuster.
Those waging a filibuster should be required to continuously hold the floor and debate.
Once all Senators have had a reasonable opportunity to express their views, every measure or nomination should be brought to a yes or no vote in a timely manner.
I’d only say that the amount of delay on a cloture motion should be reduced all the way to zero: you fail to produce people on the floor 24/7 then regular order begins immediately; no waiting, no marinating, no anything. Put up or shut up. Same goes for “reasonable opportunity” in point eight. Spell that out and ratchet up the required population of Senators needed to uphold the filibuster; cap it with a very brief interregnum between filibuster-broken and vote-held: as in less than one legislative day. Otherwise, I agree completely.
Perhaps the involvement of these non-dirty-fucking-hippy interest groups combined with the letter from the opposition (in which the GOP duly promised to filibuster everything forever; and if you think they’ll stop once the millionaire tax giveaway is sealed, you really are out there on drugs) will in some way nudge the feckless idiots that run the Senate into doing something. I doubt it, but stranger things have happened.
Democrats have exactly two chances to see filibuster reform: The first comes in a few weeks, when they can reform it in any way they see fit and pass said reforms with a simple majority; preserve what they think is good, eliminate the parts they think are choking the system currently. The linked proposal is the best I’ve seen, really. It preserves the notion of unlimited debate but makes it punishing for the minority to keep the debate going: they have to have more and more members on the floor as the debate extends. This setup would work perfectly well if you were, say, defending Social Security; not so well if you were throwing a one-Senator temper tantrum and secretly holding all nominees…there’s simply no way you’d reach the ratcheting floor requirement in the absence of a truly objectionable nominee or bill, so why even bother. And it removes the ridiculous current requirement that the majority be there 24/7 to defeat repeated quorum calls by the sole minority Senator who needs to be there to push the debate ever onward. Likewise you’d lose the foolish “marinating” process that the GOP deftly uses to extend debate without actually, you know, extending debates.
The second “chance” at altering filibuster rules comes the instant the GOP next is in control of the Senate, maybe as soon as 2012. The filibuster will be the first thing they eliminate. And eliminate it they will, at least for Democrats.
Today the Republican’s defeated a Democratic effort to bring a defense authorization bill to the floor that included a repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Now both sides can use it as an election issue.
This did not remove the repeal from the defense authorization bill. […]
[It] is a critical bit of legislation. It will make it to the floor before the end of the year. Somebody will introduce an amendment to get the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell out of the bill. The amendment will fail. The bill will pass. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell will be repealed.
It’s not so much about whether the package will squeak through (with DADT and DREAM intact), it’s about deflating the effect of said (inevitable) passage. Now it will pass post-midterms, and nobody but nobody will even know it happened. This was never about the policy, it was about denying The Democrat a win, no matter how incremental, that might give the base even the least bit of wind in its sails. And, once again, rather than fight or force the GOP to eat a massive shit sandwich while winning the day (see: Troops, why does John McCain want them to die?), the GOP is handed this victory entirely without cost, while the democratic base sees yet more fecklessness and one more reason not to bother come November.
It is better to be strong and wrong than weak and right. This is why they fail.