Friday, February 26, 2010

Reconciliation Barney Style

Let's say you want to pass a bill in the US Senate.

To start, a bill requires a majority to pass. It gets proposed and talked about in committees, then it goes to the floor.

In the senate, before they pass a bill, they have to talk about it. If someone wants to delay the vote, they can filibuster. A filibuster is the procedure by which the senate can talk as long as they like (resulting in hours of CSPAN programming of senators reading the newspaper) unless 2/3 votes for cloture. Except the democrats changed it to 3/5 of senators "duly chosen and sworn" in the 1970s. So you only need 60 votes to stop anyone from talking about a bill and push the bill to a vote. Those 60 votes are what's referred to as a "supermajority", because those 60 can override any filibuster and thus put any bill up for a vote and pass anything they wish.

The democrats, up until the election of Scott Brown, had a 60 vote supermajority. They could push any bill to a vote, overriding any filibusters or objections, and then simply pass them. The democrats, up until Scott Brown's election in Massachussetts, could've passed anything they wanted in the senate. Nothing procedurally stood in their way.

The American people, by the tens if not hundreds of millions, opposed the democrats' attempts at forcing government-run health care.
Just a few.

This resulted in a few democrats being unwilling to commit to a vote for health care, because they doubted they'd be reelected in their home districts. Thus there were specific payoffs included in the "health care" bill to provide money for the senators' home districts. Specifically the "Louisiana Purchase" to secure Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu's (D) vote and the"Cornhusker Kickback" to secure Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson's (D) vote. The purpose of this pork was to help the senators counter their constituents' complaints by saying "look what I got for you".

Even then, the democrats couldn't get it together. Enough democrats were afraid for their own seats. They also may have been afraid of falling out of favor with the administration. Those who would be in favor with the administration might get some cushy job as a department secretary or an ambassador - something they could maintain their personal quality of life and status with.

So what's a democrat set on passing a bill whether the people want it or not to do? Reconciliation.

So what exactly is reconciliation? The short version is that you can pass a bill with 50 votes and ignore the filibuster. It's supposed to be primarily for tax bills.

It seems like it can lead to a tyranny of the majority, by simply overruling the minority. A lot of people oppose it.

Especially racist bigot hatemonger extremist right-wingnut rethuglican teabaggers who hate Obama like these racist bigot extremist right-wingnut rethuglican teabaggers:

Oh, wait.

I guess abuse of power only matters when it's republicans trying to confirm a judge using a rule the democrats created, rather than democrats trying to control 1/6th of the US economy, using the rule they created in the 1970s.

Liberal fascism in action.

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