The elephant in the room.

Thursday, November 26th, 2009 @ 12:36 am | Clueless Conservatives, Disappointing Dems, Health Care

Gosh, somebody besides a crazy liberal hippie is noticing that Republicans have overseen the massive inflation of the filibuster, transforming the Senate into a 60 vote body rather than the foreagreed majority vote requirement.

According to research by UCLA political scientist Barbara Sinclair, there was an average of one filibuster per Congress during the 1950s. That number has grown steadily since and spiked in 2007 and 2008 (the 110th Congress), when there were 52 filibusters. More broadly, according to Sinclair, while 8 percent of major legislation in the 1960s was subject to “extended-debate-related problems” like filibusters, 70 percent of major bills were so targeted during the 110th Congress.

The Republicans don’t have a leg to stand on here. They’ve abandoned all restraint, even to the point they would lobby the charge right back at Democrats if they reinstated restraint.

The fact is, the health care reform bill would pass if it cleared the filibuster, which is why the filibuster has become so important. The country has already elected the number of Senators in favor of health care reform to make it possible. They just forgot to make sure there weren’t enough Republican Senators willing to torpedo reform and leave our system broken.

As for Lieberman, who’s been a pro-health care reform guy his entire career, who used to look favorably upon single-payer care, the voters clearly got swindled.

Surrendering to that because Democrats don’t want to be called rude for ending or curtailing the filibuster is cowardice, ignorance, and abettal.

-jb

15 Responses to “The elephant in the room.”

  1. Dana Says:

    Our Democratic friends used the filibuster to block confirmation votes on several good judicial nominees, and the Democrats screamed “Unfair!” when the so-called “nuclear option” was proposed; I have to laugh at the hypocrisy of our friends on the left whining when Republicans, who have only forty votes in the Senate right now, try to use the filibuster themselves.

    If the filibuster can keep health care “reform” from being passed, it will have proven to be the greatest single service that parliamentary device has ever provided.

  2. Dana Says:

    Alas! naturally, I did a site search to find your past support for use of the filibuster by the minority party when Democrats were the minority, and good judges like Michael Estrada had been nominated, but y’all redid the site, and nothing is available before mid 2006.

  3. jeromy Says:

    Dana, we’ve had this argument before, but I will forgive your ailing memory!

    And you’re pulling the exact same trick again: ignoring the massive increase in filibustering by Republicans. The Democrats were hardly abusing the filibuster, but you had a few hardcore judges you wanted to get in. Now Republicans have turned the filibuster into routine.

    You can’t honestly ignore that and claim any moral high ground.

  4. jeromy Says:

    And as I recently pointed out, Alan Grayson has suggested reducing the number to 55, not eliminating the filibuster.

    It was reduced to 60 from 67 once. Can you imagine the paralysis we’d be in today? Oh, wait, yes you can, because that’s where we are right now.

  5. cbmc Says:

    the hypocrisy of righties here is this: they claimed to oppose the filibuster on principle. it is clear now that by “principle” they meant “because it wouldn’t benefit us.” this is par for the course with Republicans 2.0, of course – they wouldn’t know what ethical consistency was if it bit them. still, it’s as hilarious to watch Democrats suddenly appalled!!! by the use of the filibuster. [i]This is what a filibuster is for[/i]. If the Republicans really want to risk the mid-term elections over this – if they believe their own PR enough to think that voters will think they’re brave patriots instead of, y’know, a party in thrall to the loonies – let them go for it. They’ll have about five seats in the house after 2010.

  6. cbmc Says:

    (besides which, who really cares? centrist make-everybody-happy reform isn’t “reform.” it’s campaigning.)

  7. Dana Says:

    Our esteemed host wrote:

    And you’re pulling the exact same trick again: ignoring the massive increase in filibustering by Republicans.

    If that’s what it takes to block socialist legislation, then that’s what it takes. In the thread you mentioned, I asked you where it was written that there was to be a maximum number of filibusters, or why, if you found it to be a wise tactic, you think it should be limited. You said you had never mentioned putting any cap on it, but simply using the political tactic of blaming Republicans for the increased number of filibusters.

    Well, that you will do, certainly enough. And I’m quite OK with you blaming Republicans for filibusters, if those filibusters save the Republic from nationalized health care! 🙂

  8. jeromy Says:

    Of course, the “if that’s what it takes” argument removes any right for you to complain if the filibuster is altered or removed.

    And this “saving the Republic” business goes both ways. I’m trying to save 40K citizens lives a year and prevent millions of bankruptcies, while hoping to “bend the cost curve” and create a sustainable health care system. It’s far from nationalizing, and it’s been so co-opted by Republican ideas already you’re forced to make things up to stay opposed to it.

    On the other hand, you’re trying to prevent a legislative victory for Obama that will be remembered for decades and leave you on the wrong side of history. While I’d be preventing an unruly gang led by the Beck/Palin/Limbaugh triumvirate of know-nothings from derailing the best chance at fixing our health care problems in generations.

  9. jeromy Says:

    cbmc: Keep that filibuster shit in mind while you attack Obama for not being your dream president.

    Not that I’m seeing you really address the evolution from the 8% “break glass in case of emergency” filibuster into the “default” filibuster. The point I’ve been making all along is that it’s always been something intended to be used in moderation.

    Did you agree to a 60 vote Senate?

  10. cbmc Says:


    cbmc: Keep that filibuster shit in mind while you attack Obama for not being your dream president.

    (this is still a lie of a strawman designed to distract from valid criticism of a right-leaning Democratic president & isn’t fooling anybody btw. “being a Republican” isn’t “not being a dream president.” It’s “failing to be worth one’s vote.”)

  11. mike g Says:

    Meh…that health care bill is a fuckin’ turd. What is it beyond a gift to private industry?

  12. jeromy Says:

    It covers 36 million people, controls costs, and ends discrimination over pre-existing conditions.

    If the public option can survive, it can be modified in the future. SS and Medicare were both pretty weak at first compared to their nature today.

  13. cbmc Says:

    still can’t get a semi over “it’s important that Obama get a victory which can later maybe be turned into something good, maybe, if he feels like it & thinks it’s politically expedient”

  14. jeromy Says:

    Then maybe you should focus your ire on Joe Lieberman or Ben Nelson, or Blanche Lincoln. Obama is supposed to magic them away?

  15. cbmc Says:

    that’s fantasyland, jb. “what Obama really wants is something awesome. but these evil villains won’t let him have it! they’re the reason he has to do the things he does. why do they make him be less than awesome?” buck stops at his plate, he doesn’t even try to strongarm them (they’re loved “it’s their fault!” figures for post-2k Democrats) and besides, your comment there is a zag. the point is, rooting for an Obama victory that can later, maybe, if we’re lucky, and unicorns spring from the forehead of Larry Craig, get modified into something great — on the grounds that, hey, it’s important he get something in the win column here — is the politics of party & personality. Party and personality are both full-extension whiffs about which no thinking person cares. whether this president or the one before him or the one after him leaves with a record that makes him look like a champion doesn’t affect me, because he’s not a prizefighter. he’s the president. and if his principles are malleable in order to put marks in the win column (on nearly-always empty promise of “it can be improved later”), then that exactly the sort of politics that’s worth loads of raspberries from the cheap seats. would you buy a new car if the dealer told you there was a good chance that after a few trips back & forth, provided you kept him in business in the interim, he’d maybe install a transmission?