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Author Topic: Olympia Snowe endorses the Democrats' crappy healthcare plan
Lalo
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quote:
It has been many decades since Congress attempted such far-reaching legislation the health care bill would affect every single American and would reshape the $2.5 trillion-a-year health care industry, representing one-sixth of the nations economy.

The bill seeks to provide health benefits to a majority of uninsured by expanding Medicaid, the federal-state insurance program for the poor, and creating new state-run insurance options for individuals and families earning less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level or $44,100 for a family of four.

For many other moderate-income Americans, the bill would provide government subsidies to help them buy insurance through new government-regulated marketplaces.

The legislation also seeks to impose strict new regulations on the insurance industry, including banning insurers from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions, and it would require nearly all Americans to obtain coverage.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/14/health/policy/14health.html?hp

Good news, right? Or it might have been, if Democrats hadn't written it. There's probably going to be a public option, but one that's been neutered to the point of uselessness. If it comes, it'll be massively expensive and pointlessly complicated -- and might sour the country on any real healthcare reform for decades. Another stunning victory by Democrats.

Matt Taibbi published a great summary of the entire farce in Rolling Stone, but the condensed version can be found on page 7.

quote:
To recap, here's what ended up happening with health care. First, they gave away single-payer before a single gavel had fallen, apparently as a bargaining chip to the very insurers mostly responsible for creating the crisis in the first place. Then they watered down the public option so as to make it almost meaningless, while simultaneously beefing up the individual mandate, which would force millions of people now uninsured to buy a product that is no longer certain to be either cheaper or more likely to prevent them from going bankrupt. The bill won't make drugs cheaper, and it might make paperwork for doctors even more unwieldy and complex than it is now. In fact, the various reform measures suck so badly that PhRMA, the notorious mouthpiece for the pharmaceutical industry which last year spent more than $20 million lobbying against health care reform, is now gratefully spending more than seven times that much on a marketing campaign to help the president get what he wants.

So what's left? Well, the bills do keep alive the so-called employer mandate, requiring companies to provide insurance to their employees. A good idea except that the Blue Dogs managed to exempt employers with annual payrolls below $500,000, meaning that 87 percent of all businesses will be allowed to opt out of the best and toughest reform measure left. Thanks to Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama, we can now be assured that the 19 or 20 employers in America with payrolls above $500,000 who do not already provide insurance will be required to offer good solid health coverage. Hurray!

Or will they? At the end of July, word leaked out that the Senate Finance Committee, in addition to likely spiking the public option, had also decided to ditch the employer mandate. It was hard to be certain, because even Democrats on the committee don't know what's going on in the Group of Six selected by Baucus to craft the bill. Things got so bad that some Democrats on the committee including John Kerry, Chuck Schumer and Robert Menendez were reduced to holding what amounts to shadow hearings on health care several times a week, while Baucus and his crew conducted their meetings in relative secrecy. The chairman did not even bother to keep his fellow Democrats informed of the bill's developments, let alone what he has promised Republicans in return for their support of the bill. "The Group of Six has hijacked the process," says an aide to one of the left-out senators.

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/29988909/sick_and_wrong

The complete absence of actual reform is tragic. Obama had the opportunity to become a landmark president, corralling the weakling Democrats and making them be more than just the party of lesser evil. Your opposition doesn't get more obviously wrong and stupid than Sarah Palin and the Republican Party, and the Democrats still can't get it right. And in the end, this country will be saddled with crushing debt and useless bureacracy, just because it was too corrupt to do otherwise.

And as much as I'd love to blame the Democrats and just ignore the Republicans as the fat, stupid, ignorant party of hillbillies they are... it's their fault. Democrats will never have to be ANYTHING more than less blatantly retarded than Sarah Palin or less obviously hypocritical than Larry Craig, because there's absolutely no competition for an intelligent voter. If it comes down to a milquetoast disappointment like Obama and the dangerously insane lunacy of the right wing, they'll have our vote every time.

What a goddamn shame.

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kmbboots
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Doesn't help that Sen. Baucus gets an awful lot of $$$ from health insurance groups.
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Samprimary
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quote:
The complete absence of actual reform is tragic. Obama had the opportunity to become a landmark president, corralling the weakling Democrats and making them be more than just the party of lesser evil. Your opposition doesn't get more obviously wrong and stupid than Sarah Palin and the Republican Party, and the Democrats still can't get it right.
As much as I wish that we could just jump straight to UHC, the administration is not working towards the 'real reform' you want because it's honestly just not possible at this juncture. The bill at present is what can be accomplished: a wedge strategy. It's there to transition us to the possibility of total reform (i.e., a single payer system) as a longer-term strategy.

Where I agree with you is that Baucus is practically poison-pilling the entire process, but recently his bill has been de-retarded quite a significant amount. As a result of the committees putting the teeth back in the bill, the health insurers turned against the very same bill they helped write and (ironically) paved the way for even more progressive change to the system. I think you should probably be a little bit more optimistic in your appraisal of the situation. This is actually health care reform happening at a rate much faster than I previously anticipated and anyone who expected more than this is severely underestimating the power of the intransigent forces still at work in our system. It serves no purpose to demand that Obama work on plans which are simply impossible in the current timeframe.

I would say more but I don't want to get in the way of some perfectly good FUD.

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Lyrhawn
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Lalo -

You're talking about the Senate version(s), which is all well and good, but what does the more liberal House version(s) have in it? The bills will undoubtedly be different when they are passed, and then they'll have to conference out the differences. House democratic leaders have already said there are a number of things that they won't negotiate on, and many of those are things Baucus has already given away. So while there is a lot of discussion swirling about the multiple versions of the bill in the Senate, I'd keep my eye on the House version. House Dems won't just sign off on what the Senate sends them.

Edit to add: Plus, you know, everything Samp just said was excellent as well.

[ October 13, 2009, 06:06 PM: Message edited by: Lyrhawn ]

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Lalo
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Lyrhawn, the House bill is significantly better -- but not significantly enough. I'd rather have no reform than what will be passed.

If there's a public option, it won't be much cheaper than private insurance. BUT, it will be saddled with an individual mandate forcing everyone to buy in. The public option won't be permitted to exercise its power negotiating drug prices or doctor's salaries, further raising prices. And the added paperwork might add even more to the existing $350 billion bureacratic quagmire a single-payer system was originally supposed to solve.

And the reason why a simple single-payer system isn't politically feasible is because these scumbags are too corrupt to act otherwise. The resulting mess of this "reform" will only sour the country on actual reform, and further prove claims that private insurance really is cheaper and more efficient than the horrible government.

It's an enormous gift to the industry, nothing more. Let's hope there's a secret bill waiting to replace this one.

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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by Lalo:
It's an enormous gift to the industry, nothing more.

No, it's not. The insurance industry was attempting to co-opt into the Baucus bill because they know passage of reforms is inevitable and they were trying to play damage control, limiting the bill as much as was possible.

Since the committees have gone beyond what they were comfortable with, they've gone on attack mode and are now fighting the bill. This is because the bill that is in proposal now and is likely to go on to be passed with even stronger proposals is in no way, shape, or form a "gift" to them.

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twinky
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quote:
Originally posted by Lalo:
Matt Taibbi published a great summary of the entire farce in Rolling Stone, but the condensed version can be found on page 7.

quote:
So what's left? Well, the bills do keep alive the so-called employer mandate, requiring companies to provide insurance to their employees. A good idea...

Is it, really? I don't think it makes very much sense to tie insurance to employment. There's no need to make losing your job or changing jobs any more difficult than it already is.

I have an outsider's view, though.

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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by Lalo:
Lyrhawn, the House bill is significantly better -- but not significantly enough. I'd rather have no reform than what will be passed.

Why? How do you suppose it's better to go on with zero reform than to embark on a process of reform? Moreover, in what way do you consider it feasible to enact all necessary reform at once, and why do you believe that this actually would be the best course of action. Because for me, seeing your goal, and seeing the best route to your goal are two different things. Do you believe that some kind of reform today will hurt further reform tomorrow? And do you actually believe that *complete* reform (leaving aside that this concept is oxymoronic) would be better achieved if we ditched the current effort entirely? What exactly is the game plan you're hoping for?
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malanthrop
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I agree that it isn't reform in any sense. It provides neither a government option or a reduction in costs. Either side you may be rooting for, this satisfies neither. It is quite simply, a huge tax increase. Reduce Medicare coverage by 400 billion, increase Medicare premiums, no increase in Social Security payments for two years, tax people with good coverage, tax companies that provide or fail to provide the dictated coverage, fine people who don't have coverage, etc. With our one common pot federal financial policy, the money raised will do nothing for health care. It is simply another federal tax in the name of health reform, a money grab. (maybe they can save medicare and SS with the revenue generated under the guise of health care reform?)

From what I see, it's good for the insurance industry and good for the government. The insurance industry get's federally mandated customers and the government gets an increase in tax revenue. Great deal for the American people, if you're an insurance lobbyist or a tax and spend politician.

[ October 14, 2009, 04:32 PM: Message edited by: malanthrop ]

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The Rabbit
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quote:
Lyrhawn, the House bill is significantly better -- but not significantly enough. I'd rather have no reform than what will be passed.
Back in 1993, Clinton's first year in office, the Clinton's put together a health care reform package and it failed. A big part of the reason it failed was because it was seriously flawed. Unfortunately, in the end it didn't matter why it failed -- its failure killed all efforts at health reform for over a decade. That failure almost certainly played a big role in the republican victories in 94 and very likely played a role in Clinton's move toward the right on other issues. The simple fact that it failed and the impact that failure had on the Clinton presidency made health care reform an issue no serious politician was willing to touch over a decade.

Given that history, I'd be happy to see any kind of health care reform pass. If this fails, I'm betting that no politician will be willing to try again for another 15 years and we can't afford that. Passing even a flawed reform bill will give politicians confidence to pursue more and better reform.

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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:
quote:
Lyrhawn, the House bill is significantly better -- but not significantly enough. I'd rather have no reform than what will be passed.
Back in 1993, Clinton's first year in office, the Clinton's put together a health care reform package and it failed. A big part of the reason it failed was because it was seriously flawed. Unfortunately, in the end it didn't matter why it failed -- its failure killed all efforts at health reform for over a decade. That failure almost certainly played a big role in the republican victories in 94 and very likely played a role in Clinton's move toward the right on other issues. The simple fact that it failed and the impact that failure had on the Clinton presidency made health care reform an issue no serious politician was willing to touch over a decade.

Given that history, I'd be happy to see any kind of health care reform pass. If this fails, I'm betting that no politician will be willing to try again for another 15 years and we can't afford that. Passing even a flawed reform bill will give politicians confidence to pursue more and better reform.

That's a very good point Rabbit. I think this is very likely true.
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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by malanthrop:
From what I see, it's good for the insurance industry and good for the government.

Yeah, this whole thing must be great for the insurance industry. That's why they're fighting it so hard. They just can't stand how great it is for them.
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malanthrop
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I wouldn't mind being in an industry that the government mandates everyone buy their product. Insurance industry is fighting it because of the imposed price controls and the imposed preexisting conditions clause. In exchange for covering people with preexisting conditions, they get legally enforced young/healthy customers who wouldn't waste the money but by force of law. I didn't have insurance until I was in my late twenties, by choice. Estimates are that 25 million of the current 37 million will still be uninsured. Heck of a lot of money for that small percentage.
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SenojRetep
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Olympia Snowe may support the Finance Committee bill, but Joe Lieberman does not. His chief concern (like most of those opposing reform) is cost and the broader effect on the economy <edit>I should say his chief stated concern; there are plenty of people who can tell you what his actual concerns are, usually revolving around insurance industry payola </edit>.

If Harry Reid can't win Lieberman over, it'll be pretty dicey to get to 60 votes for cloture. Snowe and Collins have suggested they wouldn't filibuster (even if they wouldn't vote for the Senate Bill in its final form). If Reid manages to hold the two of them and every member of the Democrat caucus other than Lieberman they would have 61 votes. But Blanche Lincoln, Mark Pryor, Ben Nelson and a slew of other moderate Dems are pretty shaky on support, and with Lieberman coming out in opposition it might embolden some of them.

Personally I don't think the Dems should try to avoid the filibuster. Let the GOP go for it; it plays perfectly into the Democrats' strategy of casting the GOP as the obstructionist "party of no." I think the whole focus on a filibuster-proof majority has deeply and unnecessarily hurt the Democrats' legislative agenda.

I think the reconciliation path is a terrible idea. It would avoid the filibuster, which is good for actually getting the bill done in a reasonable amount of time, but I think many voters would see it as a devious political ploy, significantly tarnishing the (relatively) positive brand label the Dems currently enjoy.

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kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by SenojRetep:

Personally I don't think the Dems should try to avoid the filibuster. Let the GOP go for it; it plays perfectly into the Democrats' strategy of casting the GOP as the obstructionist "party of no." I think the whole focus on a filibuster-proof majority has deeply and unnecessarily hurt the Democrats' legislative agenda.

I think the reconciliation path is a terrible idea. It would avoid the filibuster, which is good for actually getting the bill done in a reasonable amount of time, but I think many voters would see it as a devious political ploy, significantly tarnishing the (relatively) positive brand label the Dems currently enjoy.

I think that this kind of thinking - not from you, but from elected officials - is why we don't get anything done. Instead of doing what they can while in office, they are thinking about how to stay in office.
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Rakeesh
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quote:

And as much as I'd love to blame the Democrats and just ignore the Republicans as the fat, stupid, ignorant party of hillbillies they are... it's their fault. Democrats will never have to be ANYTHING more than less blatantly retarded than Sarah Palin or less obviously hypocritical than Larry Craig, because there's absolutely no competition for an intelligent voter.

So not only are Republicans stupid and ignorant, they're also fat, now? What's next? Halitosis? Are their mothers ugly and possibly possessed of poor moral fiber?

And, hey, nothing spells progress like, "I'd rather have no reform than what will be passed." That's definitely the way to get stuff done-if the opposition cannot be absolutely steamrollered into submission, accept nothing at all.

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SenojRetep
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
quote:
Originally posted by SenojRetep:

Personally I don't think the Dems should try to avoid the filibuster. Let the GOP go for it; it plays perfectly into the Democrats' strategy of casting the GOP as the obstructionist "party of no." I think the whole focus on a filibuster-proof majority has deeply and unnecessarily hurt the Democrats' legislative agenda.

I think the reconciliation path is a terrible idea. It would avoid the filibuster, which is good for actually getting the bill done in a reasonable amount of time, but I think many voters would see it as a devious political ploy, significantly tarnishing the (relatively) positive brand label the Dems currently enjoy.

I think that this kind of thinking - not from you, but from elected officials - is why we don't get anything done. Instead of doing what they can while in office, they are thinking about how to stay in office.
I think we actually get a remarkable number of things done, politically. For all the angst over partisan splits and perpetual parity in the past ten years the Congress has managed to undertake and support a significant number of large scale projects, including both the wars (and subsequent rebuilding efforts) in Afghanistan and Iraq, a significant overhaul of the organizational structure of the intelligence community and several huge financial transactions that either saved our squandered our economic fortunes as a country, depending on your perspective. Not to mention the annual grind of budgets, organizational revamping, and so forth.

To what degree I agree with your assessment I think the root cause is not an unwillingness to subvert the standard legislative rules of order. I think it's more a loss of political tradecraft among a generation of politicians that are ideologically, rather than professionally motivated. Or, more accurately, whose professional motivations have become more ideological than personal with the increased elective strength of ideological advocacy groups.

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Lyrhawn
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quote:
From SenojRetepPerso:
nally I don't think the Dems should try to avoid the filibuster. Let the GOP go for it; it plays perfectly into the Democrats' strategy of casting the GOP as the obstructionist "party of no." I think the whole focus on a filibuster-proof majority has deeply and unnecessarily hurt the Democrats' legislative agenda.

I think the reconciliation path is a terrible idea. It would avoid the filibuster, which is good for actually getting the bill done in a reasonable amount of time, but I think many voters would see it as a devious political ploy, significantly tarnishing the (relatively) positive brand label the Dems currently enjoy.

Helloooooooo.

Democrats' biggest failing back when they got control of the Senate back in 2006 was to not call the bluff of filibustering Republicans. They should have actually shown hours and hours of coverage of Republicans reading cookbooks and phone books on the floor of the Senate instead of making deals. It'll be a fight between Republicans saying that Democrats never invited them to the table, and Democrats saying "we had to invite them? Why didn't they just offer ideas (well, tort reform, but otherwise), or propose amendments? See how obstructionist they are!?" And then we'll see who wins. Democrats generally back down when threatened with a filibuster, and for the love of God I'm sick of it. Call them on it, for the love of God! Harry Reid is spineless.

As for reconciliation; do it if you have to, I don't care. Filibustering is a stupid rule that allows for parliamentary procedure to bypass the actual letter of the Constitution. Half plus one, that's all the supreme law of the land says we have to have to pass legislation. Super majorities were something we invented after the fact as a piece of trickery to give the minority more leverage over the majority. The founders intended for some pieces of legislation to be extremely hard to pass; it's the Constitutional amendment process. They intended override vetoes to be difficult to pass, which is why it requires a two-thirds vote. But for everyday legislation? Half plus one. Not three-fifths.

Republican arguments that Democrats are trying to subvert democracy by following the Constitution are going to sound ridiculous.

[ October 15, 2009, 05:51 PM: Message edited by: Lyrhawn ]

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Blayne Bradley
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so how gutted is the current bill?
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Lyrhawn
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Which bill? There are 5.
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Samprimary
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quote:
They should have actually shown hours and hours of coverage of Republicans reading cookbooks and phone books on the floor of the Senate instead of making deals.
FYI this is a popular myth but we don't filibuster this way anymore and we haven't had to for a long time. You don't need to continually read anything.
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Lyrhawn
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Really? What are the rules for holding the floor then? You just stand there?
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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
Really? What are the rules for holding the floor then? You just stand there?

You don't even have to stand.

One representative of any party can indefinitely put off a vote on a bill or nomination by simply indicating to Senate leaders that they desire to prevent the bill from proceeding.

The vote then cannot go forward until a vote for cloture is achieved. So, today, the republicans can filibuster simply by having a single member at a time present in the chamber, announcing every hour or so that they intend to refuse "unanimous consent" to end debate. Then they can just sit around and do nothing if they so choose.

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Lyrhawn
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When was that changed? It had to be in the last decade.
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Rakeesh
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quote:
FYI this is a popular myth but we don't filibuster this way anymore and we haven't had to for a long time. You don't need to continually read anything.
Heh, yeah, there's a reason Smith Goes to Washington on AMC and not on CNN.

As for when, I think it goes back to the 1960s...

Nope, wrong, 1975 is when Senate Rule 22 was put into play.

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Lyrhawn
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I knew Rule 22 was introduced in the 70s and that it reduced the number from two-thirds to three-fifths, but I had no idea that it gutted the actual physical requirements to performing a filibuster.

What a bunch of crap. It's a procedural rule that more or less amends the Constitution. I could sort of go along with it when people actually held the floor, heck, it might even give people a chance to actually talk about the issue at hand, but the ability to just hold up legislation at random?

Use reconciliation and force a fight over the filibuster. Or use Frist's "nuclear option" to bypass it, I don't care.

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fugu13
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I believe that if one lacks the endorsement of one's own party leaders, filibustering still requires occupying the floor, but don't quote me on that.
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rivka
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I had no idea that had changed either. I thought it was like the Romulan Right of Statement (Diane Duane's interpretation, anyway).
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Godric
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quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
quote:
FYI this is a popular myth but we don't filibuster this way anymore and we haven't had to for a long time. You don't need to continually read anything.
Heh, yeah, there's a reason Smith Goes to Washington on AMC and not on CNN.

So when Mr Smith went to Washington in 1939, he could have gone on CNN?

[Razz]

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Rakeesh
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Well, CSPAN, rather;) He woulda showed up on CSPAN. Now it's a thing of the past, though, relegated to AMC, TCM, or maybe THC.
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Lyrhawn
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When I saw THC, my first thought was "The cigarette companies have their own channel now?"

Then I thought about it and had my "oh duh" moment.

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Brian J. Hill
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quote:
Democrats' biggest failing back when they got control of the Senate back in 2006 was to not call the bluff of filibustering Republicans. They should have actually shown hours and hours of coverage of Republicans reading cookbooks and phone books on the floor of the Senate instead of making deals. It'll be a fight between Republicans saying that Democrats never invited them to the table, and Democrats saying "we had to invite them? Why didn't they just offer ideas (well, tort reform, but otherwise), or propose amendments? See how obstructionist they are!?" And then we'll see who wins. Democrats generally back down when threatened with a filibuster, and for the love of God I'm sick of it. Call them on it, for the love of God! Harry Reid is spineless.

As for reconciliation; do it if you have to, I don't care. Filibustering is a stupid rule that allows for parliamentary procedure to bypass the actual letter of the Constitution. Half plus one, that's all the supreme law of the land says we have to have to pass legislation. Super majorities were something we invented after the fact as a piece of trickery to give the minority more leverage over the majority. The founders intended for some pieces of legislation to be extremely hard to pass; it's the Constitutional amendment process. They intended override vetoes to be difficult to pass, which is why it requires a two-thirds vote. But for everyday legislation? Half plus one. Not three-fifths.

Republican arguments that Democrats are trying to subvert democracy by following the Constitution are going to sound ridiculous.

Funny. I just read and re-read the entire Article 1 of the Constitution (dealing with the legislative branch) and no where in it does it specify that legislation has to have a simple majority to be "passed" by either house of Congress. Rather, it specifically leaves that decision up to each body, by way of Section 5, clause 2, which states "Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly Behaviour, and, with the Concurrence of two thirds, expel a Member" and, to a certain degree, Section 8, clause 18 aka the "elasticity clause."
You are correct that the Constitution does indeed require a two-thirds majority in order to take certain actions, including that cited above, but it has no provision regulating how each House is to pass their own legislation. Thus, the Senate has adopted rules that usually require a simple majority for passage of legislation but require 3/5ths to end debate. This is their right under the constitution. You may disagree with an established rule and call for a rule change (as Frist did, with his proposed so-called "nuclear option.") Now, I am no scholar of Constitutional Law, so it may be that it has been assumed that a 50 plus 1 majority is the founder's intent. However, I read absolutely nothing in the Constitution itself that dictates this.

Wow, I've spent way too much time and effort on a question of constitutional law. I originally hit "reply" because I am really pissed off at Lalo's ludicrously incendiary characterization of all Republicans as
quote:
the fat, stupid, ignorant party of hillbillies...
However, I'll just point to Rakeesh's above response, and point out that such contemptuous name-calling has made me put Lalo on my list of people who deserve neither my respect nor my time and effort reading what they've posted.
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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Wow, I've spent way too much time and effort on a question of constitutional law.
I'm glad you did. Now I feel like doing some further checking but I don't have the time. Not that I doubt your finding, I double checked it myself just now and found the same thing, but I'm wondering what the general rule has been in the past for this, and what the rules were for passing legislation until the filibuster and in spite of it. Something to do in my free time I suppose.

Alright then, I guess, until I can do more checking, I'll have to edit out the Constitutional portion of my argument, though I think I could do a decent job, given the time necessary, to prove that the founders, and many of our greatest legal scholars along the way, felt that a simple majority was more than sufficient, and indeed was far, and that any more than that put unnecessary constraints on the legislative body, but oh well.

Those potentially using the reconciliation method would then have to establish an argument in favor of a simple majority, which I think they could easily do, then point out the centuries old senate rule that states it, and then point out how going around parliamentary procedural methods of blocking legislation and escaping the rules of basic legislative passage in the senate's own rules is silly. I still think they'd have a great argument, just maybe not as strong as when I was misremembering the Constitution.

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