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Yet Another Liberal Makes a Shortsighted Call for “Filibuster Reform”

Are Liberals really too stupid to understand that the guy they like won’t always be the one in power? They constantly decry Republican filibusters, but when they’re in the minority, it stands among their favorite tactics. To end the filibuster would do irreparable harm to an already damaged legislative body. The Senate should not become a smaller version of the House, but that’s the current objective of many liberals.

Robert Creamer writes for the Huffington Post:

January 5, 2011 is the day that the Senate should adopt rules that limit the ability of the minority party to obstruct and circumvent the will of the majority by using the filibuster ….

He predicates this call to action on a lie, claiming:

a clear message of the November election was the demand from swing voters that Washington takes action and gets results — especially when it comes to the economy. Voters want an end to partisan gridlock.

First, the “partisan gridlock” hasn’t stopped Washington from doing anything. There were only two reasons the health care bill took so long to pass. First, Democrats were fighting over just how much to cram into it. Second, those Democrats who still possessed something reminiscent of a conscience had to numb themselves to the prospect of voting against the will of a majority of American citizens. The filibuster played no role as the Democrats held a filibuster-proof super-majority in the Senate. The Senate had already passed a version of the health care bill before Scott Brown’s election.

Over the past two years, Democrats managed to cram through a stimulus bill, a mortgage bailout, new banking regulations, The Health Care takeover, the bill to “fix” the Health Care takeover because they couldn’t get what they wanted legitimately, the nationalization of student loans, financial reform, the confirmation of two far-left justices, and more—and that doesn’t even touch their “achievements” during the last two years of the Bush administration when they held both Houses of Congress. About the only two things they haven’t gotten are amnesty, which was proposed under the DREAM act, and Cap and Tax which probably would have passed if not for Climategate. So, Creamer, where is the gridlock?

Second, only in a liberal fantasy-land could record losses at every level of government constitute an affirmation of their “mandate.”  This claim is a disservice to the American people. Do liberals really believe voters are stupid enough that they would give more power to the people they don’t agree with in order to spite the people they agree with? If Creamer actually believes this, then he is truly delusional. If the American people approved of the Health Care bill and thought Republican opposition was unwarranted, they’d have given them the votes to overcome the filibuster. It wouldn’t have been much of a hurdle either.

Still, Creamer cites five areas where the filibuster has hindered Senate Regressives. His first claim:

Congress would have passed a substantially larger economic stimulus plan in early 2009 that could have materially increased the rate of economic growth ….

What Creamer is really arguing here is “the stimulus only failed because it wasn’t big enough.” This is the same argument liberals make every time one of their precious spending packages falls short. Regardless, if they felt the spending wasn’t enough, why didn’t they pass a supplemental bill just a few months later when Democrats held a 60 seat majority.

The health care reform bill would have included a Public Option that would have helped control health care costs, cut the long-term Federal deficit, and — because it was one of the most popular elements of the president’s health care reform — would have increased the popularity of the entire measure.

Ignoring that everything after Public Option in the above sentence is, quite frankly, laughable, this is still a bold-faced lie. The Senate passed their version of the health care takeover when they held a 60 seat majority. The filibuster wasn’t relevant because the Republicans didn’t have enough votes to implement it.

Comprehensive Immigration Reform [amnesty] would have passed the Congress and been signed into law.

This is more wishful thinking. Apart from Harry Reid’s reelection posturing, there hasn’t been a concerted effort by Senate Democrats to force another mass amnesty through Congress. You can’t have a law without a bill.

Don’t Ask Don’t Tell would have been repealed

This is the most plausible of Creamer’s claims. However, if they hadn’t stuck the DREAM act onto the Dept. of Defense Authorization bill which contained a Don’t Ask Don’t Tell repeal, then this probably would have happened anyway. That’s the problem with cramming too much into one bill. [Update: Don’t Ask Don’t Tell has now been repealed, but both articles were written before that happened]

the tax cuts for the Middle Class and unemployment insurance would have been continued—and tax breaks for the wealthy would have been discontinued. Who knows, Congress might even have been able to pass legislation imposing a large tax on … bonuses being paid by Wall Street to its top producers ….”

Not so fast. Several Democrats opposed raising the current tax rates (keeping the same tax rates isn’t a cut, Creamer). Even if they did pass a massive tax increase for job producers, there’s nothing to stop the next Congress from reversing the decision. The question before Democrats is simple: is repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell worth it? Or more accurately, is it worth sacrificing all influence when you’re in the minority for a chance at repealing the Clinton-era Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy?

Creamer’s next argument is even more ridiculous. He claims, “no one doubts that if the Republicans took control of the Senate and felt they needed to change the rules to have their way, they would change the rules in a heart beat. Nothing would stop them from ending the filibuster …” Nothing, except history. I bet I can find quite a few historians who would doubt this opinion. It has no basis in fact. Sure, there’s technically nothing to stop them from trying to change the rules, but there’s also no indication they would. It’s beyond ridiculous to suggest they would do so in a heart beat. If that were the case, Republicans would have changed the rules when Democrats started filibustering judicial nominees. (Granted, the idea was floated with respect to judicial nominees, but it was never acted on and enough Republicans opposed the plan that it would have been unlikely to pass).

Creamer concludes his article by claiming, “If they [the Senate rules] aren’t changed, the Republicans will use the current Senate rules … to materially limit the president’s ability to enact a Democratic program.” No shit, Sherlock (pardon my French), or as Mark Belling more eloquently put it, “Who’s denying that? … we don’t support what he’s doing.” Creamer also fails to note that the Republicans don’t need the filibuster if they control the house. Instead, the House can vote down legislation, or Boehner can refuse to allow it to see the light of day (as Pelosi has done numerous times). The last time I checked, legislation still had to pass both chambers.

Creamer’s entire missive is the whiny temper-tantrum of “a long-time political organizer and strategist, and author of the book: Stand Up Straight: How Progressives Can Win” as he realizes the American people just rejected most of what he stands for. Let’s hope Democrats file this one under “fringe” and heed the advice of the late Senator Byrd who argued against eliminating the filibuster when the idea last surfaced (in February).