End The Filibuster. Bring Back Democracy.

by Ben Hoffman

Paul Krugman wrote about the abuses we’ve seen by Republican Senators filibustering every bill they don’t like. From a historical perspective:

The political scientist Barbara Sinclair has done the math. In the 1960s, she finds, “extended-debate-related problems” — threatened or actual filibusters — affected only 8 percent of major legislation. By the 1980s, that had risen to 27 percent. But after Democrats retook control of Congress in 2006 and Republicans found themselves in the minority, it soared to 70 percent.

Some conservatives argue that the Senate’s rules didn’t stop former President George W. Bush from getting things done. But this is misleading, on two levels.

First, Bush-era Democrats weren’t nearly as determined to frustrate the majority party, at any cost, as Obama-era Republicans. Certainly, Democrats never did anything like what Republicans did last week: G.O.P. senators held up spending for the Defense Department — which was on the verge of running out of money — in an attempt to delay action on health care.

Source

There was also Bush’s use of reconciliation to get his tax cuts passed. He couldn’t even get a simple majority for the second round of bankrupting tax cuts. Dick Cheney had to cast the deciding vote.

The Senate isn’t a real representative body, anyway, since every state has the same number of Senators. Our least populated state of Wyoming has the same number of senators as California. In Wyoming, each Senator represents about 266 thousand people while in California, each Senator represents about 18 million people.

It’s time to at least end the filibuster as a tool to block everything one party disagrees with. Maybe there should be a limit like challenges in football. How about 20 filibusters a year?

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2 Comments to “End The Filibuster. Bring Back Democracy.”

  1. Good points there!
    From 7% to 80% is ridiculous..

    But read on a blog somewhere that the Senate is Empire and the House is Country – that each states are semi-sovereign “equal” republics which therefore should and could block the majority on some issues in the Senate. And the whole back and forth between chambers is due to US being a unique mix of two government structures. Explained a bit of the judicial framework of cumbersome legislative processes in congress..

    But one side completely blocking everything, the constitution is probably not made for that..

  2. Mr. Hoffman,

    I don’t usually comment when I’m ill prepared, but I will on this one. Paul Krugman is not known for being non partisan in his opinions on anything. I have not checked his facts for errors, so for now I will assume he is factually correct. I am guessing that while his stated facts may be correct, his conclusions, going by his history are not. Which is to say, that he left relevant facts out.

    When he says Democrats did not use the filibuster as often as current Republicans have recently, I answer that Democrats did not have to. They had enough seats, along with enough Rinos to block anything they really cared about. Republicans at present do not have that luxury.

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