The Democrat's plan to squash minority rights
It appears the Democrats may be getting serious about radically altering procedures in the senate that would give the majority a a huge advantage in pushing their legislative agenda; an end to the filibuster as we know it.
The problem the Democrats see is that all this democracy stuff stinks. Freezing the minority out of input into major legislation should mean that when it comes time to vote the minority should just get out of the way and let the majority win by default.
Minority rights? Who needs 'em? "Vox Populi, Vox Dei" say the Democrats. Getting rid of the filibuster as a way for the minority to put a brake on the majority's ambitions will be job one this year, according to this piece by Janet Hook in the Los Angeles Times:
It is the Senate's own rules, not the Constitution, that set 60 votes as the benchmark for cutting off debate. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), chairman of the Senate health committee, argues that current rules have made it too hard for Democrats to exercise the mandate they received from the voters in 2008.
"Elections should have consequences," Harkin said in a recent letter to his colleagues urging a change in filibuster rules. "Even when a party loses, it too easily can prevent the majority elected to govern from legislating."
Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) has launched a petition drive urging Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to push for cutting from 60 to 55 the number of votes needed to cut off a filibuster.
"Why should launching wars and cutting taxes for the rich require only 50 votes, while saving lives requires 60?" asked Grayson, who cited a number of major bills that were passed by the Senate with less than 60 votes while President George W. Bush was in office.
Democrats have used the filibuster against Republicans when the GOP was in the majority, most recently from 2001 to 2006. Back then, Democrats were great defenders of the right to filibuster Bush's judicial nominations. At one point in 2003, Reid spent more than eight hours on the Senate floor protesting the fact that Republicans spent so much time on four disputed judges instead of on joblessness. Reid read six chapters from a book he'd written about his tiny hometown of Searchlight, Nev.
Ed Lasky adds:
Add that one to their other subversions of the Senate process and Congressional traditions (no conference committee to reconcile the House and Senate health care reform bills, no posting of bills on-line, bribery, etc). Let's not forget how they were going to use the budget reconciliation process to work around Congressional rules. What happened to the characterization of the Senate being the saucer that cools the passions ? What happened to the Senate as the "greatest deliberative body in the world?
Instead it has become a rubber stamp for Harry Reid and Barack Obama. Facing Democratic Senators fleeing the scene of their crime and a resurgent Republic Party, now is the time they will try every trick in the book to push legislation down our collective throats.
The whole point of having a senate in the first place is so that consensus is reached about laws passed by Congress. When consensus is missing, the filibuster is there to force one. But instead of amending health care reform or scrapping it, the Democrats are prepared to ram it down the throats of the American people by shoving the minority and their rights to the sidelines.
They wish to get rid of the filibuster because it is "inconvenient." There are lots of things in a democracy that are "inconvenient" - such inconveniences prevent despotism and tyranny of the majority.
If Obama throws his support behind this move - and word out of the White House is that the president is "frustrated" with senate procedures - then all manner of legislation could be passed and rules changed that would give the Democrats what amounts to a permanent majority.