Filibuster Fever

Harry Reid and his fellow tactical geniuses are serious about gutting the current filibuster rules. The left loves it. It is always a mistake to underestimate opponents' intelligence. But this seems so stupid that it challenges this wisdom.

In order to change the rule by a simple majority, it is necessary that the Senate to declare itself not to be a continuing body. If it were a continuing body with two thirds of its member remaining in office, then the rules would continue along with the requirement of a two thirds majority to amend those rules. This means that the filibuster rules and all other Senate rules are up for grabs every two years. For that to be a smart move for either party, they must expect to always have at least a simple majority. Any time they slip into minority status, they can expect to have no hope of blocking rules changes or legislation.

If the Democrats controlled the House, the rules changes might be worth that risk. They could ride roughshod over the GOP and transform the United States into the People's Republic of North America in accordance with their most dearly beloved socialistic fantasies. But they have no hope of any serious change as long as Republicans control the House of Representatives. Apart from the usual partisan divide, the filibuster change will only stiffen opposition backbones.

So, why do it now? Why would the Democrats take on a tradition meant to protect minority views at a time when it does them no good? A bad economy in 2015-2016 could leave the Republicans with control of all of Congress and the Presidency. Without the 60 vote threshold in place, the liberals could see their entire program since the New Deal unravel. They couldn't even block Sarah Palin going to the Supreme Court! There is a bit of deja vous here. Back in Bush's second term there was talk of a "nuclear option" to prevent Democrats from blocking judicial appointments. The argument goes both ways.

That leaves the question unanswered. Why do it now? Democrats may be power-crazed haters, but they are not stupid. What is going on? I await the collective wisdom of AT readers on this question.

 


Harry Reid and his fellow tactical geniuses are serious about gutting the current filibuster rules. The left loves it. It is always a mistake to underestimate opponents' intelligence. But this seems so stupid that it challenges this wisdom.

In order to change the rule by a simple majority, it is necessary that the Senate to declare itself not to be a continuing body. If it were a continuing body with two thirds of its member remaining in office, then the rules would continue along with the requirement of a two thirds majority to amend those rules. This means that the filibuster rules and all other Senate rules are up for grabs every two years. For that to be a smart move for either party, they must expect to always have at least a simple majority. Any time they slip into minority status, they can expect to have no hope of blocking rules changes or legislation.

If the Democrats controlled the House, the rules changes might be worth that risk. They could ride roughshod over the GOP and transform the United States into the People's Republic of North America in accordance with their most dearly beloved socialistic fantasies. But they have no hope of any serious change as long as Republicans control the House of Representatives. Apart from the usual partisan divide, the filibuster change will only stiffen opposition backbones.

So, why do it now? Why would the Democrats take on a tradition meant to protect minority views at a time when it does them no good? A bad economy in 2015-2016 could leave the Republicans with control of all of Congress and the Presidency. Without the 60 vote threshold in place, the liberals could see their entire program since the New Deal unravel. They couldn't even block Sarah Palin going to the Supreme Court! There is a bit of deja vous here. Back in Bush's second term there was talk of a "nuclear option" to prevent Democrats from blocking judicial appointments. The argument goes both ways.

That leaves the question unanswered. Why do it now? Democrats may be power-crazed haters, but they are not stupid. What is going on? I await the collective wisdom of AT readers on this question.

 


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