Friday, November 16, 2012

Elsewhere: Filibusters, More, and some Housekeeping

I haven't been running these items this week, and I wound up posting less over here today than intended thanks to a balky computer this morning, but I figured I should link to at least some of what I've been up to. A bit of housekeeping down in the last paragraph, too.

The main thing has been the filibuster all week. In particular, I wrote against talking filibusters yesterday, and then again today. It's both impractical as a solution, and irrational, and...well, read the pieces if you need to be convinced.

Also one earlier in the week about filibusters and executive branch nominations: of course Republicans will filibuster them.

Today I wrote about the fiscal cliff negotiations.

Earlier I talked about why going public won't help Obama now, but why he might want to do it anyway.

Also I looked at the numbers on dynastic Senators.

And I also had a bit of sympathy for Republicans about polling uncertainty.

There's more, but that's almost certainly more than any of you want to read anyway, no?

As I said earlier, I'll be on the road next week, and I'm really not sure what my posting schedule will be, other than irregular. Probably a pretty slow week, especially if the news is slow, which it likely will be.

Hmmm...I'll be in New York; would anyone be interested in getting together for an afternoon coffee/drink/whatever? I've never tried to do one of these things, but if there's a lot of interest I suppose I'd be up for it, pending family obligations. I'm thinking about perhaps Wednesday afternoon some time? If you're going to be in NYC, and you're interested, let me know below or via email or whatever.


  1. I see your argument on the "talking filibuster" but I don't find it convincing.

    These senators are (relatively) privileged, lazy, and unprincipled. I think of my senators (NH's Shaheen and Ayotte) and I can't imagine either of them giving a three hour senate-floor speech to block a jobs bill or judicial appointment. I definitely can't imagine them doing it week after week. I don't think they would want the endurance test or the publicity.

    But the bigger problem is that your argument is pure conjecture. Maybe the GOP would have won every endurance test on every issue, no matter how popular. But maybe not!

    If Reid could have forced talking filibusters in the 112th he should have tried it. It's not lot like they were getting anything done by just surrendering to the obstruction right away.

    I suspect the real reason Reid allowed them to get away with the lazy-man's-filibuster is not that it's easy to spend hours and hours giving floor speeches - but because it's hard. It would suck. And Reid doesn't want to be forced to do it when he's in the minority.

  2. I think it is time you describe some of your proposals on filibuster reform in a PostPartisan column. I happen to agree with you on this but others don't read you here and don't know about them.

  3. Jonathan:

    One reasonable rebuttal to your filibuster argument is simply that a talking filibuster greatly increases the possibility/opportunity for cloture by attrition.

    The filibustering minority can't make a procedural error if they don't have a chance to.

  4. A talking filibuster with minimal other changes would just end up with one or two opposing senators reading talking points off a right wing website.

    The single most important change that could be done IMO is to place the voting burden on the obstructionist side - 2/5ths of senators duly sworn to continue a filibuster rather than 3/5ths to end one.

    Being able to call for cloture votes quickly adds more teeth to it, but isn't quite as critical.

  5. I'd like to see your positive proposals too! Putting them up on WaPo might have some effect on the debate.

  6. Don't you think a majoritarian Senate with a weak party leadership would different enough from the contemporary House anyway, such that a 60 vote requirement isn't really necessary for that to be true?

  7. I second Steve's idea. (2/5ths of senators duly sworn in to continue a filibuster rather than 3/5ths to end one)

    A talking filibuster has its advantages:

    It is visible; the press will reliably report it as a filibuster, which does not happen much at present.

    It is non-normal and therefore newsworthy. Obstruction will look like obstruction, where now it is invisible to all but political junkies.


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