Blame the (Senatorial) System, Man
I don’t always (often?) agree with Paul Krugman, but his column today hits the hammer on the head. Instead of progressives railing against Obama and his failure to get the public option in the Health Care Bill, the outrage should be focused on the institutional failure of the Senate. As League contributors often reminds its readers, there are three parties in America: Democrats, Centrists (some with Rs after their names, some with Ds), and Republicans. If The Democrats want to actually govern, given the Senate’s screwed-up rule system and the total “nein: position of the Republicans, then the Centrists are holding way too much power. But unless you want nothing passed, the Centrists have to be placated. This leaves us with seriously damaged legislation (imo), but what other option is there? Invoking the mythical “power” of the Presidency to cajole Senators to vote for bills?
As Krugman asks:
Now consider what lies ahead. We need fundamental financial reform. We need to deal with climate change. We need to deal with our long-run budget deficit. What are the chances that we can do all that — or, I’m tempted to say, any of it — if doing anything requires 60 votes in a deeply polarized Senate?
The House has already passed legislation on financial reform and climate change. Neither of which is perfect– in fact, they’re not even really good–but both strike me as superior to the current state of affairs. But The Senate Centrist Cabal is just going to water those (already watered down) bills before any bill passes.
Starting next year, the clock is already ticking on re-election campaigns, so the chances of this stuff getting passed seems much more difficult. At the end of the day, The Senate is simply unable (and unwilling) to do its Constitutionally-mandated job. It’s a perfect storm of hardened filibuster rules (60’s the new 50), total opposition by a completely minority party that operates in lock-step, and a party with about 57 sure votes ceding way too much influence to 5 or so Senators who have their own peculiar “centrist ideology.”
Update: Either that, or I guess you could follow Jane Hamsher and talk about how progressives should join up with tea party-goers. I see nothing but good coming from that plan. [I need a sarcastic font so you know how ludicrous a position I think this is and how venomously mocking that last sentence was intended to be.]