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More Massachusetts context

If Scott Brown wins today, Democrats go from having the largest Senate majority since the 1970s to...the second largest Senate majority since the 1970s. They go from 60 votes for health-care reform to 59. Republicans haven't had a majority this large in generations.

It's evidence of how thoroughly we've internalized rule-by-filibuster that this is even a big deal in terms of short-term legislating.

By Ezra Klein  |  January 19, 2010; 11:52 AM ET
 
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Comments

Democrats are basically acting like abused wives when it comes to the 'filibuster' rule, with the MSM supporting the Republithugs as the abuser. Dems get a once in a generation majority, and the Republithugs say 'that's not enough, it's you have to be able to produce 60 votes on every issue, and we're going to keep beating the sh_t out of you until do'. Dems response is 'OK, we agree, its our fault, you make the rules, we have to try harder,' with MSM on the sideline echoing the Republithug line.

Given current climate, probably not a good idea to try to blow things up in the next Congress, but if Obama can manage re-election in 2012 with at least a bare majority in the Senate and house, would so love to see the Senate curtail the filibuster as it is allowed to do with majority vote on the first day of the Congress, and then pass whatever they can with a 51 vote majority for the next 4 years. If they could muster the stones to pass legislation which would actually improve life for the average citizen, (which I don't think the current version of health care is going to do) it's unlikely it would be repealed, even if the Republthugs do take over in 2016. (I can dream, can't I?)

Posted by: exgovgirl | January 19, 2010 12:20 PM | Report abuse

This is the piece that is driving me crazy. All the new reports about how Brown will be the decisive vote against health care are absolutely wrong. He will be the decisive vote against ending debate on a bill that has been debated for 10 months.

The idea that only bills with the support of 60 senators are ever going to pass the Senate again is really frightening.

Posted by: mikehoffman82 | January 19, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

So..., how's that bipartisan spirit working out for you, Obama?

Posted by: tggault | January 19, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

One more bit of context:

If Brown wins, he's up for re-election in 2012.

In a deep Blue state.

With Obama up ticket.

With Brown having a track record in 2010-2012 that he won't be able to duck.

He would be a partial term Senator.

In the end if he wins, this will likely be good for Dems in the long run. Coakley was a horrid candidate, and there isn't any evidence that she would be a better Senator by any standard other than Brown. We likely will get a true progressive on the ballot in 2012, unless Dem Leadership pulls a complete rock on it.

Having GOP Obstruction even more front and center, with the Dems starting to fight back, would be a pretty good way to not only spin the narrative for the fall of 2010 to back stop as many seats as possible, but also as a central narrative for 2012.

The GOP thinks Dems are the Enemy. Worse: they are actively portrarying them as Traitors and literaly Enemies of the State to their most rabid of voters.

Dems need to stop playing nice. It's not just Bush & Chenney who are Bad GOPers. They need to take aim at the GOP in general and create their own narratives of our screwed up GOP Policy has been over the years.

John

Posted by: toshiaki | January 19, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Ezra,

You are missing a major part of the senate's character. Today, many on the left are saying "how'd Bush do so much damage with 50-52 senators, while Obama can't get anything with 60?"

Well, there is a simple answer. R's are lockstep in service to corporate power, while D's have split loyalties.

So, you have one side that is 100% committed to corporate power, and the other side that is about 30%. All they have to do is peel off one D, and the filibuster is good!

But, when bush was in power... It was easy to find some D's who would agree to not filibuster -- to fulfill that 30% funding.

Just think if the chamber approached Nelson and said 'you don't have to vote for more tax breaks for CEO's, but please don't filibuster it.' No sweat, right? He's opposed to filibustering anything out of principle. (Principle's change with elections, I'm told.)

It's too difficult to expect any party to stand up to corporate power when their money funds both sides. Get used to losing, this is a business run society...

Posted by: rat-raceparent | January 19, 2010 1:34 PM | Report abuse

I was thinking similarly this morning hearing two Republican-tron guests talk about the Mass election on BBC news. One of them said that Americans really want bipartisanship on everything. And that made me think, if Americans _really_ wanted all that much bipartisanship, we would have elected 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans to the Senate, or something very close to that, every state would elect one Senator from each party--or a bunch of independents for that matter. The election of 60 people from one party is pretty good evidence that we, as a whole, have decided that we're not interested in bipartisanship. As a whole, we want some good old Democratic partisanship. Or at least we did for a while.

Posted by: JonathanTE | January 19, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse

*****This is the piece that is driving me crazy. All the new reports about how Brown will be the decisive vote against health care are absolutely wrong*****

No. They're absolutely correct, sadly.

The fact that you and I find the use of the filibuster WRONG doesn't change the reality.

We have a defacto supermajoritarian upper house. If Dems don't have the stones to use their numbers to change this situation, the joke's on us.

Posted by: Jasper99 | January 19, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

"We have a defacto supermajoritarian upper house."

Ahhh, only sometimes. When it's the dirty hippies, we need 60 votes. When it's a pro-chamber of commerce vote, 50 will do.

Q. Why?

A. $$$

Posted by: rat-raceparent | January 19, 2010 2:04 PM | Report abuse

You use "we" a lot in your writing. Are you speaking for America, for the Washington Post, your readers, the media, people on Max Baucus's Christmas card list or what? It seems like you are either a reporter or a pundit and in either case it's not true that you are a "we" and it's easier to simply name the "we" you talking about in your writing. If it's the 'royal we' then that's just sad.

Posted by: jamusco | January 19, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

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