Thursday, July 11, 2019

On the Filibuster and Policy Flip-Flops

Just replied to an Ezra Klein tweet about ending the filibuster.

If the Democrats can win the presidency, and if they can win control of the Senate, they've not won too much, at least not when compared to the stack of policy proposals the candidates, especially Warren, are coming up with.  The fact that the Senate majority will likely be composed of Sens. Manchin, Rosen, Jones, Kelly (AZ), Gideion (ME) and whoever, all centrists whose seats aren't the most secure, means the most liberal proposals won't get considered in the Senate, regardless of the filibuster.

The filibuster means even somewhat bipartisan measures (say 51 Dems plus 7 Reps) won't pass.

Removing the filibuster means a Dem majority can change policy (if they can agree, which is a big "IF").  My reservations here can be seen in the Mexico City policy on abortion--see my discussion below.

Two considerations might make me change my mind:

  1. suppose ACA is deemed unconstitutional by the Supremes next fall.  Obviously the Dems will want to pass some new healthcare legislation, but what can be passed that will not also be invalidated by the Supremes? I'd like to see some discussion of this.  Is it possible to change ACA enough to get past the 5 conservatives on the Court?  If so, we might need to kill the filibuster to get it done.  Pass it, and hope 8 years of a Dem administration gets it solidly entrenched enough to withstand Rep control of Congress and the Presidentcy.
  2. the other issue is the Congressional Review Act, which has been used extensively by the Reps to kill Obama's regulations.  The Act includes this provision:
(2)rule that does not take effect (or does not continue) under paragraph (1) may not be reissued in substantially the same form, and a new rule that is substantially the same as such a rule may not be issued, unless the reissued or new rule is specifically authorized by a law enacted after the date of the joint resolution disapproving the original rule.
That provision hasn't been tested in the courts, but what it could mean is there's no way for a victorious Dem party to reinstate Obama's regulations.  That's my interpretation, though one should never underestimate the ingenuity of lawyers.  If that's its meaning then we may need to kill the filibuster to permit bare majorities to pass the new laws needed to reauthorize the regulations.

 As Wikipedia describes:
First implemented in 1984 by the Reagan Administration, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has enforced the policy during all subsequent Republican Administrations, and rescinded the policy at the direction of all Democratic Administrations.[3] After its initial enactment by President Reagan in 1984,[4] it was rescinded by Democratic President Bill Clinton in January 1993,[5] then re-instituted in January 2001 as Republican President George W. Bush took office,[6] rescinded in January 2009, as Democratic President Barack Obama took office[7][8] and reinstated in January 2017, as Republican President Donald Trump took office.

That's no way to run a railroad, much less a country, if applied to all major policies.

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