30 November 2011

ONE STEP FURTHER

This is directly related to the post "Sabotage"... kind of.

I received one of those fundraising emails from the DSCC today. It was technically from Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), and bits and pieces of the letter appear below:

“If Republicans held the Senate right now, just imagine what we’d be watching: Passage of the Ryan Plan, Bush-era efforts to privatize Social Security, and more tax cuts for billionaires while the middle class would be left holding the bag.

And make no mistake: That’s exactly what will happen if Republicans take the Senate in 2012.

No wonder Republicans refused to compromise and instead deadlocked the Supercommittee. They're banking on holding all the keys in 2013.

Right now, the Democratic firewall means their extreme agenda doesn’t stand a chance. Their plan all along has been to take the Senate in 2012 and then just pass that agenda into law... 
Obstructing every effort at fairness these last two years was Part One of the GOP plan. Part Two is happening right now – their attempt to take the Senate and knock down our firewall. ...”  -- Sen. John Kerry (D-MA)
I like where this letter goes... and I think it could have gone one step further...

Sure, he says that one of the GOP's goals in 2012 would be to win the majority in the Senate. To me, though, winning a majority is a goal that would apply to all political parties. Who wouldn't want a ruling majority?

While it hints at Republican obstruction, Senator Kerry's letter doesn't fully dive into how the Republicans altered the way the filibuster is used (like never before) in the Obama Age; and how Congress' failure to act on key bills - via this filibuster maneuver - has in turn helped to turn many of the nation's current challenges more challenging.

Take the first paragraph above... 
If Republicans held the Senate right now, just imagine what we’d be watching: Passage of the Ryan Plan, Bush-era efforts to privatize Social Security, and more tax cuts for billionaires while the middle class would be left holding the bag.
This statement is not true.

If Republicans held the Senate right now, the Democratic minority would be threatening to filibuster any extreme - Personhood-style - right wing bill that the GOP brought to the floor. One hopes.

... but would Democrats threaten to filibuster all or most of the bills that the GOP tried to pass? 

Though this is a question I am not eager to have answered as I obviously prefer the Senate to remain D; I propose instead - and again - an alternate line of questioning:

Why, in the Obama Age, has the filibuster been transformed from a negotiating tool into an obstruction tool, killing most of the Obama Agenda; including most of the "American Jobs Act" - elements of which enjoy overwhelming public majority support?

Of course Senator Kerry would never admit in his letter that there really is no need to worry, folks... because if the Democrats lose the majority, they too will have the handy filibuster at their disposal to stop the GOP from passing their mandate.

Is this the kind of stalemate America wants? 

Can we afford another legislative session that is nothing more than a series of "check mates" that results in a lot of inaction?

I think those are the questions that need to be asked.

That said, the debate to watch at this very moment is whether or not the Republican senate minority will threaten to filibuster the bill to extend the payroll tax cuts, set to sunset at the sunrise of 2012. If the GOP threaten to filibuster a bill that would cut the average family's tax burden by $1000 next year... then the minority obstruction will have reached new heights... or new lows, depending on how you're looking at it.

It appears as though Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) may be willing to let the payroll tax holiday continue for another year; having announced as much at a press conference on Tuesday, November 29, 2011.

This is great news. 

This is news that gives one hope that we may see less and less of the filibuster, as the Republicans begin to embrace the idea that the best way to win elections is on ideas... not on hoping the other guy falls flat on his face. 

Meanwhile, at Obama for America... a completely different type of fundraising email:
"If you win a seat at the next dinner with three other supporters and me, you'll get to bring a guest. I thought I'd bring one, too -- so I invited Michelle. She's in." -- Barack Obama