Tuesday, February 16, 2010
An op-ed by an old-time Democratic U.S. Senate staff member in today's Philadelphia Inquirer proposes an interesting idea for Senate Democrats -- to paint their Republican colleagues as demonstrably obstructionist by forcing "the Republicans to filibuster bills that most voters support," knowing the cloture vote would not pass.
But that doesn't mean that Senate Democrats can't use Rule 22 to their advantage. President Obama's proposed budget is full of ideas that are very popular with the general public - such as measures to rein in Wall Street bonuses, programs to create new jobs, a middle-class tax cut that applies pre-Bush tax rates to the very rich, and provisions for going after companies that hide their earnings overseas to avoid taxation, to name just a few...I have always thought that winning by losing was a tactic that has worked well for Arabs in the Arab-Israeli conflict, in terms of generating international sympathy. I am not so sure that it would work well for a political party that has a solid majority in both legislative bodies and also runs the executive branch. I am also not so sure that the ideas which Mr. Schwartz cites above poll as well as he thinks they do, but I am going to concede that he might be more familiar with that data than most of us.
...Winning by losing: Could it work for the Democrats?
Even if he is correct about the popularity of such proposals, why not try to pass bills that actually have bi-partisan support, instead of attempting a cram-down or trying to highlight sharp policy differences? It is tactics such as this (which the author's penultimate paragraph nearly admits) which crowds out constructive work on the Hill, and leaves centrist Democrats such as the now-retiring Sen. Bayh out in the cold.
To avoid real bloodshed in November, the Democrats ought to think about passing bills that have broad support among voters in most states (and not just proposing for the sake of partisan point-making). I still believe that there is a health care bill that could be priced to move, provided it includes tort reform and portability provisions, among other things. If a conservative Republican such as Rep. Paul Ryan uses language in his proposals that include terms such as "universal access" (to tax credits to pay for coverage, to be precise), then there is likely a middle ground that could be reached, if the Progressive Caucus can stomach it.
I increasingly think that Barack looks like Jimmy Carter. Came to Washington with a vague reformist agenda on the back swell of an extremely unpopular Republican president. Surrounded himself with close advisors from his home state who couldn't work Washington. Couldn't control his own party. In the end, got very cranky with all of us for not getting his "vision". Was a one term president.
This post reminds me of a point that has been banging around in my brain for the last six months: How many conservatives who called for abolishing the filibuster for judicial appointments during the Bush/GOP majority years are now happy that they failed to establish the precedent that the filibuster could be abolished?
And how many Republican senators and congressmen who railed against the stimulus bill are now eagerly
taking credit for stimulus-related projects/jobs as they attend ribbon cutting ceremonies in their homestates?
Unless you count cutting open an envelope to open your welfare check, I haven't seen or heard of any projects in my state (Virginia) that have been funded by stimulus money and provided photo ops for Republicans.
Of course...we did elect Bob McDonnell. That was a nice project that happened as a result of the Stimulus!!
I'm not convinced the ultra-left faction of the Democrats know what would be popular or not with the American public. They've behaved pretty tone-deaf so far,...pushing their own agenda. Seems as if they have a lot of feedback in their headphones...the kind that self-amplifies into a deafening squeal.