60 Is The New 50

Did you know it's undemocratic to pass legislation with 50%? So says Sen. Susan Collins whose very relevance depends on the 60 vote threshold in the Senate for passage of anything. Remarkably, she thinks that imposing a 50%+1 threshold for passage of any of President Obama's agenda is "undemocratic" and she denies that the nation, with, yes, a 50%+1 majority, ratified then candidate Obama's agenda in November.

From The Huffington Post:

"Reconciliation should not be used to impose a major policy change. It's unfair to those who hold a minority view," Collins added.

Isn't that undemocratic? Collins was asked why she and a handful of senators should wield so much power over the nation's policy.

"I don't really think I have all that much power but I'm glad you think so," she said, laughing.

"I don't think it has anything to do with the power structure of moderates," she added. "People want to see healthcare reform, want to see us deal with major issues, but not in an undemocratic fashion. I think people want to see fuller debate and deliberation and more involvement by the minority."

But isn't the need for 60 votes undemocratic? Didn't the nation have a full debate, followed by an election in which people voted for major change?

"I disagree totally with that," said Collins. "I do not believe the American people voted to short circuit debate and prevent people with a minority view on both sides of the aisle from having the ability to amend a bill."

Certainly minority rights are important but the idea that the filibuster was designed to impose a new absolute 60 vote threshold above which every piece of legislation needed to rise is preposterous. And certainly I didn't hear Senator Collins waving her arms about minority rights when she was in the majority and the Democratic minority used the filibuster a quarter of the number of times the Republicans used it during the last congress.

Matt Yglesias summoned some eloquent outrage on the topic last month:

...there's been over time a steady increase in filibustering. Democrats were feeling chastened after the 2002 and 2004 elections, so filibustering dipped somewhat in those congresses while still staying high above the levels that has persisted in the 1980s. The result now is that you've started hearing talk about how you "need 60 votes" to pass something in the Senate, rather than saying that you need 50 votes and also that a minority might engage in the extraordinary measure of filibustering.

None of this has ever been a good idea. But when it was genuinely reserved as an extraordinary measure, it was a bad idea whose badness could be overlooked. But as it's become a routine matter, it's become a bigger and bigger problem.

Indeed.

Update [2009-3-25 18:27:35 by Todd Beeton]:Oh and you recall the 8 Democratic Senators who co-signed a letter with Republicans urging the maintenance of the filibuster on big policy initiatives? Three of them -- Evan Bayh, Tom Carper and Blanche Lincoln -- wrote an OpEd today in which they accepted as a baseline the premise of the 60 vote threshold

The stakes are too high for Democrats to fear a policy debate. Such debates produce better legislation. On nearly all important votes, a supermajority of 60 senators will be needed to pass legislation. Without Democratic moderates working to find common ground with reasonable Republicans, the president's agenda could well be filibustered into oblivion.

You see, just like Susan Collins, their relevance depends on this threshold remaining in place. It's no accident that 8 Senators signed the letter -- that's precisely the difference between the number of Dem Senators we have (pending Franken's arrival) and the number needed to deliver a majority (50 votes + Biden's tie break.) Here's some more rubbish being spewed by these "moderates":

Many independents voted for President Obama and the contours of his change agenda, but they will not rubber-stamp it. They are wary of ideological solutions and are overwhelmingly pragmatic. Many of them live in our states and in the states of the other senators who have joined our group.

Are they calling President Obama an ideologue? I love how only self-professed "moderates" are capable of pragmatism and everyone else is ideological. As Jane wrote: "What a load of horse shit."

But perhaps the most galling thing contained within this oped is their reasoning behind what they call their "constructive, not obstructive" goals: what happened to Democrats in 1994.

In 1993, the three of us, as much younger politicians, stood with great expectations as the last Democratic president was sworn in with big plans, a head of steam and a Democratic Congress ready to begin a new progressive era. In less than two years, it all came crashing down, with disillusioned moderate voters handing the GOP broad congressional victories in 1994.

Wow. There really are no words.

Tags: budget reconciliation, Filibuster, Susan Collins (all tags)

Comments

21 Comments

Absolute BS

I hope the democrats take out Collins, she is a utter fake.

And, isn't it FINALLY time the Democrats get over their inferiority complex?

The Republicans rammed through plenty with less then 60 votes, and the Dems politely declined to fillibuster.

Now, with Harry Reid's approvale, it's an automatic fillibuster/cloture dance.

So, we need not only to tell Ms Collins to shove it, we need to remind Harry he is head of the MAJORITY party in the Senate, and to start acting like it.

by WashStateBlue 2009-03-25 02:24PM | 0 recs
Re: Absolute BS

Susan Collins is a republican. I can't really save any outrage over her when I got so much for our own party self serving , self righteous , self proclaimed moderates such as Bayh, Landrieu and Co.

Why doesn't Bayh come here and debate us on a rational basis. He claims to be pragmatic when all he does is ideological bashing of the liberal base of the party. Forget ideology and I think we can debate this guy and make him look as foolish as he really is. Is there anyone on MYDD with access to Bayh? Questions he needs to answer:

  1. If you are concerned about the budget, which is more prone to give you a return on government investment - social funding of human assets who will become more productive citizens or funding of a useless war in the middle east.
  2. Doesn't Obama deserve a chance to show what he can do and unless he has Bush like hair brained ideas, don't you owe him that chance to advance his agenda as an intra party courtesy that other Presidents have gotten?
  3. What are you doing to save waste in the defense endeavors? What good is tiny improvement in security, if many more are dying due to local crime, bad health, improper nutrition, domestic abuse unchecked because of inadequate DFACs checks.

by Pravin 2009-03-25 02:50PM | 0 recs
We tried

the people of Maine decided otherwise

by DTOzone 2009-03-25 02:53PM | 0 recs
Re: We tried

Try again....

Come on, are you guys that right wing compared to my state?  

There has to be some strong Democratic women that can take her out.  I always thought Oly Snowe was legit, but Collins has always seemed really smarmy to me.

by WashStateBlue 2009-03-25 03:03PM | 0 recs
Re: 60 Is The New 50

Thank you and thank you!

More debate and deliberation?

That's is not what the filibuster is about.

by MAL Contends 2009-03-25 02:35PM | 0 recs
Evan Bayh - not just a chump, but dishonest too

Remember when Evan Bayh bent over backward to accomodate Lieberman using the excuse that we need him to advance the President's agenda as an extra vote? WHAT GOOD IS THAT WHEN THESE IDIOTS DO NOT NEED A PETULANT LIEBERMAN TO ACT AS OBSTRUCTIONIST TO THE PRESIDENT'S POLICIES?

These are conservadems as Maddow and Huffington POst term them, not moderate dems.

And even if one supports their responsibility to the American people, don't they owe their own party President at least one year to prove what he can do with his agenda? They gave Bush many chances. And Bush was clearly moronic enough not to deserve that bipartisan support. Yet Obama is not good enough to get support from his own party?

Democrats, get a freaking clue. You were supposed to act as the opposition from 2000-2006. Not now. Act like a freaking majority party. All these policy differences should have beeen debated and handled in focus meetings two freaking years ago.

They oppose Obama's good policies like middle class cuts, more social funding. Yet they have been powerless in the past to stop wasteful spending in so many areas.

by Pravin 2009-03-25 02:40PM | 0 recs
Re: Evan Bayh

I share your frustration, but I think your post borders on the logic that "two wrongs make a right".  Okay, Dems were complete pussies when they were the minority.  I can/have accept(ed) that.  I lived through those dark days as well.  But part of the problem was that they were dealing with a Repub Congress that had no ideas of its own beyond whatever Bush told them to think.  But now that they are the majority, I really don't want lockstep, knee-jerk approval of everything Obama proposes.  I really think that part of the reason the country is such a mess is that the Republicans weren't skeptical enough of Bush to make him improve his ideas or find ways to build consensus.  From a political standpoint, this worked out to our advantage, but in the broader context it was bad for the U.S.  Presidents need to learn to build consensus and there should be debate in Congress.  I'm all for putting pressure on Evan Bayh and his fellow pre-pubescent Conservadems.  But I don't think we should just shut down debate the way the Republicans did.

by the mollusk 2009-03-25 02:52PM | 0 recs
Pressure? HOW?

Mollusk, I did a diary on this...

http://www.mydd.com/story/2009/3/25/1418 59/122

I didn't know the next day Bayh would basically confirm everything I am saying here.

The point is, you are wrong, in that they DON'T want debate, they are essentially saying, everything coming to us has to move to the right, to where the Republicans want it.

Your point of we want debate is fine, but, really, Bayh is declaring his little group the arbiters of all decisions.

There goes Tax reform, Energy policy, and any chance of looking at Military Procurement Reform or, heaven help us, cutting into that Beast that always must be feed?

Nope.

Evan Bayh is probably THE most popular man in the Republican Senate Caucus right now.

Unbelievable.

by WashStateBlue 2009-03-25 02:58PM | 0 recs
Re: Evan Bayh

I have been a proponent of internal party debate. But there is a time and place. First of all, unless Obama's  ideas are clearly bad, I see no reason for a little political courtesy to let Obama try some ideas to improve Americans lives that other people in power havent tried in the past. At least, give Obama ONE chance to prove his point. And then the congress and senate should be appropriately skeptical based on Obama's track record at the time of each subsequent bill.

The minority powerless excuse doesn't wash with me. Bayh had a chance to establish a track record of his ideas even if the republicans wouldn't pay heed to them. His track record is poor when it comes to assessing many situations that have cost us money. So when he comes up with his own group talking about pragmatism and the need for accountability, it rings hollow.

And the rhetoric he uses smacks of liberal bashing more than true moderation. If he came out with a cost benefit analysis of the social programs with some of the past costly programs that he hasn't opposed, he needs to explain why. But he wraps it up in broad statements of the need to cut wasteful spending.

I say this , as one of the few MYDDers who has supported lower taxes and the need for better control of government expenses. Yet I find no common ground with Bayh. Moderation by choosing the best ideas of all ideologies is preferable to me than watering down liberal ideas and extreme right ideas.

by Pravin 2009-03-25 03:00PM | 0 recs
I supported Democratic filibusters

but I don't see what's so unseemly about making the party actually filibuster.  You know, reading from the phone book, reciting verses of the Koran, praising Chairman Mao.  All the usual stuff people do during filibusters.  I think this post turned into snark at some point without my knowledge or consent.

by the mollusk 2009-03-25 02:42PM | 0 recs
Evan Bayh single-handed, rewrites the Constitution

The stakes are too high for Democrats to fear a policy debate. Such debates produce better legislation. On nearly all important votes, a supermajority of 60 senators will be needed to pass legislation. Without Democratic moderates working to find common ground with reasonable Republicans, the president's agenda could well be filibustered into oblivion.

WTF?  Who made him the new Thomas Jefferson?

It's 50+1, Jerkwater!

God, I hated that SOB before, he even tops Ben Nelson in my hated DINO list.

What, he is pissed he didn't get VP, so he is going to take down Obama.

This is an outrage!  I can't believe there were actually people here that pushed this SOB for VP!

by WashStateBlue 2009-03-25 02:43PM | 0 recs
You know if some moderate Republicans tried

this crap in the Newt Era, he would have had them knee-capped, the RNC would have cut off their funds, hell, they would have probably murdered their first born!

Where is the Democratic Party on this?  

Wasn't Rahm choosen cause he was The Enforcer?

God, we are lame, so damn lame, it's no wonder we spend 10 years in exile for every year in power.

by WashStateBlue 2009-03-25 02:50PM | 0 recs
Re: You know if some moderate Republicans tried

This is where the arrogant Rahm needs to earn his money. If he can keep the Bayhs in check with half the venom he shows people like Dean, he would be well worth the position he got.

by Pravin 2009-03-25 02:53PM | 0 recs
Re: You know if some moderate Republicans tried

Problem is rahm is a corrupt slime bucket and if he pushes to hard someone is gonna get upset and expose his to the media for what he is...

by adb67 2009-03-25 05:00PM | 0 recs
Thanks for the Republican point of view

So, did you do this much wailing about Tom Delay?

LOL, somehow the other guy is always more corrupt.

by WashStateBlue 2009-03-25 05:20PM | 0 recs
Re: Thanks for the Republican point of view

Delay is and was always a slime bucket....I cursed him as loud as anyone.....maybe you are too blind to call it as it is regardless of party but I am not. Its the reason I could not get along with members of my party when I was a member of my former states Republican committee....

by adb67 2009-03-25 06:25PM | 0 recs
Stop with the utter bullshit feigned outrage

Your party used reconciliation EVERY FRICKING YEAR...

Because 50+1 vote IS A MAJORITY, not some mind-F that Cantor and the rest have come up with a "SUPER MAJORITY"...

Do me a favor, show me that in Constitution?

Then I will believe your NEWLY BIRTHED outrage.

Your party rammed SHIT down the American Publics throats using reconcilation EVERY YEAR, NOW they will do anything to stop Obama from undoing it.

And, they have some DINOs to help them but they need a trick..

They have to pretend 60 is a majority, not 50.

Republicans hate math, just like they hate all science I guess...

by WashStateBlue 2009-03-25 07:15PM | 0 recs
Re: Stop with the utter bullshit feigned outrage

Listen Genius, your party controlled congress for how many years. And for how many years did they ram crap down our throats? Yeah they did wonders for us. The fact is, if you werent so blinded by partisanship, you would realize that both sides are full of crap. People like Chris Dodd and Nancy Pelosi are nothing more than common thieves who believe they are smarter than the rest of us. Slime buckets like Tom Delay and Trent Lott who think they can use political power to muscle others into doing what they want. You somehow believe that Democrats are pure. You think that because someone is a registered and acknowledged Republican, that they think and act a certain way.

Thats no better than talkings heads like Hannity ranting on and on about democrats hating America, or some democrats claiming Republicans hate children, the elderly and of course African Americans.....wake up....grow up...

by adb67 2009-03-26 05:29AM | 0 recs
Will we do the same thing?

As I said in my diary, this essentially stops any progressive agenda Obama wants.

1. We know ZERO Republicans are going to cross over on any issue that could move the country to the left. They can't, or face the wrath of Rush.

2. We know our gutless Senatorial leaders just bend over and take it, not force them to actually filibuster, not play hardball on any issues.

3. Are our memories that short? We saw Obama try to reach out, they declared no, and rushed to embrace Rush Limbaugh as the party agenda setter.

That is whom Evan Bayh wants to negotiate with, well, Evan, they have declared they won't.

They said Obama's budget will end the Republic, does that sound like a start to negotiations to you?

Unless the bills come out more military spending, no tax changes, and cuts to programs they hate, they are voting no.

You CAN'T negotiate with them.

We need to make them stand up and show the American people, they don't give a rats-ass about any of them except Rush Limbaugh and his approval.

Bayh JUST handed them their dream scenario.

He will water down every bill, they will STILL vote against it, so anything Obama does get will move to the right no matter what.

Again, I ask, will WE do that when the right wing comes back into power?

My take is no, that is why they rule so long, UNTIL they absolutely implode the country and fall from power.

I sometimes feel they are right, we are the party of weakness, not strength.

We don't even have the strength to back up the President, to give him a chance?

The Republicans LOSE Big, but they still win in the end it seems.

by WashStateBlue 2009-03-25 03:25PM | 0 recs
Re: 60 Is The New 50

The silence from the Clinton nutswingers is deafening.  Perhaps the secretary should give one of her three testicles to Bayh.

by lojasmo 2009-03-25 05:21PM | 0 recs
Using the Necular Option

Time to Review

It's a real incentive to become bipartisan! (for R's)

by NvDem 2009-03-26 06:39AM | 0 recs

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