Friday, January 25, 2013

Filibuster Reforms and Left

Left is uniformly upset that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid dropped the ball and entered into a pale version agreement with Minority Leader McConnell.

I think it is time for Left to deal with it and move on. On political grounds, for Democrats to invoke the 'nuclear option' - use simple majority of 51 votes to change Senate rules - would have been very, very bad. For a starter, Republicans are already trying to set the 'meme' that President Obama is out to 'break GOP' rather than governance. Of course, it suits them to pick up on what few on Left dreamed after feisty President Inauguration to spur up their demoralized party as well as to be a step ahead in coming political battles about fiscal issues with Democrats. On this background, to have a headline like 'Senate Dems join President to push partisan agenda' would neither help Democrats in Congress nor White House.

President Obama very noticeably has been absent from this Senate Reform debate all along; for a reason - not only does he not want to portray the picture of a president meddling in affairs of Congress (in any case Congress is so unpopular), he wants to 'jump over dysfunctional Congress' to reach American Public to move his agenda. Then why bother getting involved in inane ways of Senate? 

With so many critical budget and fiscal 'balls in air'; what incentive is there for Senator Harry Reid to burn bridges with Republicans totally? There are nominations pilling up to be confirmed, there is a budget to be passed (I know, such a novelty for Senate!) and given totally collapsed relationship between House Republicans and White House, it will be the Senate which will have to midwife any workable resolutions to nations intractable problems (like Biden-McConnell fiscal cliff accord). One of the top priorities for Democrats will be to realize remaining part of 'revenue increase via tax reforms'. Yes, Sen. McConnell is not going to support tax reform revenue increase just because Democrats avoided the 'nuclear option' on filibuster; but he would certainly ratchet his 'nihilism' many levels up to screw up the entire place otherwise. (Agreed, it is part 'ransom' here, but Dems demanded too in past.)

The point of Democrats themselves having used 'filibuster technique' in past to stop Republican agenda is self-explanatory enough. Some on Left accuse Senator Reid that by enacting filibuster reforms he does not want to loose his 'importance' in Senate whether Dems are majority or become minority. Like any other typical politician, Senator Reid is no saint. But no one on Left can forget that in the darkest Democratic hour  in the last decade - just after emphatic re-election of Bush in 2004 with no Democratic leverage in Congress - it was freshly elected Senator Reid who single-handedly carried the Democratic fight as Senate Minority Leader and lone savior of Democrats (before Nancy broke the ceiling glass in 2006 to join him). The only punch that willy boxer had then was of 'filibuster'. 

True, as this old guard fades; younger generation of Senators may revisit this filibuster debate. In any case  certain provisions of Reid-McConnell 'understanding' (it cannot be even called any formal agreement or accord; it so thin) are only for 2 years and the debate will be continued in January of 2015 after mid-term elections. And that is the point, yes Senate is broken and our Congress has become dysfunctional. But changes must come from the political pressure of People. Let Senate make 'calls' whether it wants to remain 'relevant' to needs of Americans and if so, how. Legislatures are broken all over the world for one reason or the other. But to believe 'past legislatures' were some kind working version of idealized world, that is just naive. 

Today, pressure from American Public is for far more pressing needs of 'repairing our economy and immigration reforms'. Neither Public would be interested in 'by-laws of Senate Proceedings' nor it would find it useful that our politicians are spending precious political capital on issues which do not directly benefit American People.

As far as Left goes, they need to keep 'learning' in choosing battles; else nothing would be achievable and feisty Obama would simply remain a forgotten chapter in History.

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