Monday, November 9, 2009

The Big Picture: Joe Lieberman is Exhibit A for The Need to End the Tyranny of the Filibuster

I'm pretty concerned about health care despite the victory because of the goddamn Senate. And there was a lot of attention given to the 39 Democrats voting no. A huge thing is that the completely erroneous line that "this is too much spending given the deficit" has been allowed to continue. That has got to be disproven. Although, would that even matter? Lieberman and Nelson and the other idiots would make up some new reason. Is there any more despicable quote you've ever heard in your life than "The big problem is the deficit. If the bill includes a public option, then as a matter of conscience, I will not let the bill come up for a vote." Every single thing about that sentence is deeply wrong. The ultimate "FIRST of all". Let's break it down:

1) The deficit: a) the bill will reduce the deficit. b) NOT passing reform is the surest way to increase the deficit to unsustainable levels. c) You, Joseph Lieberman, were perfectly happy to spend TRILLIONS of dollars on reckless tax cuts to the wealthiest estates and on military occupations that have cost more than 5000 American lives and made us far less safe. c) the deficit right now is necessary and actually a good thing as the government makes up for the loss of private demand with sound investments in health care and education and putting people to work. d) even if the deficit was a problem and this bill increased it, both of which are the OPPOSITE of true, it would still be a moral imperative to cover the uninsured and make health care affordable because it is a BASIC HUMAN RIGHT!

2) The public option: a) it's a weak public option, with opt-out provisions, that is only open to a tiny percentage of the population, not possible for people to get on the public rolls easily, so it's ludicrous to make that your focus. b) the inclusion of the public option brings down health care spending and the deficit, and the more people it's open to and the more robust it is, the more it brings down health care spending and the deficit, which SUPPOSEDLY are your biggest concerns. c) You, Joe Lieberman, specifically said that you were in favor of a strong public option when you were running for re-election. So in other words you flat-out lied to your constituents.

3) Matter of Conscience: Clearly stating that you are morally superior to these other legislators. What gives you that moral superiority, Joe? Your treachery to your party, your background, your religion and your constituents? Or is it your stupidity in advocating the Iraq War? What about your McCarthyite smears against real patriots by accusing them of supporting terrorism when they oppose wars and torture regimes that increase terrorism?

4) I will not let the bill come up for a vote: Think about how ridiculous that sounds on its face, even if you didn't know what he was talking about: "as a matter of conscience, I will not let a bill COME UP FOR A VOTE". You can vote against a bill as a matter of conscience, but how is it a matter of conscience to prevent a vote from even occurring, to deny majority role, to deny democracy? Although here what we're objecting to is much bigger than Joe Lieberman, it's the outrageously undemocratic filibuster that lets a minority prevent anything from even being voted upon. The Strike and I have seen how our home state of California has sunk from the pinnacle to the muddy ditch thanks to Prop 13 forcing 2/3 majorities to pass budgets and raise taxes, and in recent years the filibuster has served the same purpose for the federal government. The Democratic Party of Obama, Biden and Pelosi WON the election, and we won it with sweeping majorities, and there are massive problems to confront, and we have plans to help solve those problems. What a terrible system to directly deny the will of the voters and prevent government from solving pressing problems, all so the despicable likes of Joe Lieberman can feel really important and morally superior.

Good point by you about how Obama has handled Fort Hood far better than McCain would. Get an indication of how McCain would have handled it as the great Joe Lieberman said, "We don't have all the facts yet" (so why don't you just shut up then???) "but it seems clear that this was motivated by Islamic extremism, so this was a terrorist attack." UGGGH. Unsubstantiated, leaping-to-conclusions fear-mongering Muslim-bashing by Joe Lieberman? That's worked out well so far! God I hate him.

It seems clear to me that in order to pass health care, we're going to have to bust the filubuster. Which we have to do at some point anyway. I think Obama has to take it on, head-on. It is a completely ridiculous practice, totally unbased in the sacred Constitution that Dick Armey and Co. talk endlessly about, and we just can't have it. I'm not sure how you would go about doing this but when you control the freakin' Presidency and I think a majority of Senators would be on your side, you've got to play some serious hardball. I think a number of moderate Dems who are in that 44-53 category, more loyal than the traitors but still not assured, would actually be OK with this because it would actually seriously increase their power and leverage. Now they're taken for granted, every bill needs those last 5 Democrats. But if we just had to get to 50, then all the leverage would go to those who could put it over that threshold.

THE STRIKE: I think it is long past time to take on the filibuster. If Obama wages a hard campaign against the filibuster, and Senator Reid makes Republicans actually filibuster bills (have them stand there for 25 hours before they collapse), then the Obama agenda has a far greater chance of succeeding, our country has a far greater chance of improving, and the Democratic party has a far better chance at electoral success. The question for some Senate Democrats (the 44-53 crowd The Big Picture referred to) is whether it’s worth it to do away with the filibuster now knowing that we some day may have a right-wing President and a right-wing Senate. The answer is yes, it is worth it. Democrats will NEVER have lasting electoral success without significant legislative accomplishments, and won’t have legislative accomplishments unless they do away with the filibuster.

Especially because, while we can push for a total end to the filibuster, in the end we'll be happy to settle for some sort of compromise that is in keeping with the Senate's tradition of more deliberate debate, can't just jam things through.

But we gotta start the drumbeat for the end of the filibuster. We should e-mail Ezra - who obviously is on our side and has been saying this repeatedly - to really start pushing it. If we get the "End the Filibuster" movement to catch on like the public option did, get the netroots fired up, MSNBC pushing it hard. I think we should also set up a Facebook group. The biggest obstacle to all this - and the very reason that the filibuster is allowed to work - is that nobody knows it exists. How many people who aren't political junkies know that you need a 3/5 majority to pass anything in the Senate? But in that is also an advantage - the public has no sense of connection to the filibuster.

Of course the typical people will whine and raise a hue and cry about abandoning American tradition and being too partisan and on and on, but the point is, THEY'RE GOING TO SAY THAT NO MATTER WHAT WE DO. This is what Rachel Maddow said yesterday on Meet the Press, a great point, that no matter what we do, Democrats will be accused of being big taxers and spenders, so we can either face that accusation AND have double-digit unemployment, or we can say, well we're going to be accused of it anyway, so let's at least put millions of people back to work! Same thing with the filibuster. Nothing will do more for Democrats' approval ratings than ending the filibuster so we can actually accomplish our agenda, and not look weak and ineffectual. And Obama has got to do it, because otherwise his agenda and his Presidency will be failures.

No comments:

Post a Comment