Sunday, May 13, 2012

Dems reforming filibusters, Repubs abandoning no new tax pledges

Two undercovered items:

1.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has finally backed the reformers in his own party calling on limitations of the filibuster.  Critically, he agrees that the change in Senate rules at the beginning of the legislative session, per the US Constitution, are not themselves subject to a filibuster.  So this can only happen starting next year.

Reid finally got fed up with the Rs.  I sure wish this happened in 2009, then we could've had cap-and-trade in place for two years by now, as well as other critical legislation.  The problem with our democracy is that it's not a democracy.  California is a perfect example of that, with two-third's vote needed to raise taxes.

I'm guessing the Rs will say very little about this for now.  If they stay as the minority party in 2013, they'll fight "Democrat tyranny", but if they win control of the Senate, they'll adopt the cause themselves and say the Dems have no right to complain.

The constitutional option has been threatened in the past to get compromises, so that may be how it plays out next year.

2.  Matt Yglesias scores with the realization that Congressional Republican attempts to reduce deficit and increase military spending via reduced child tax credit puts tax-cutting promises in a new light:

It's interesting that the child tax credit is considered fair game in this context. Instead of a "no tax hikes" pledge it now seems to be "no tax hikes except on low-income working parents."
More info here on the cuts, although not a whole lot more.  I'd be interested in some details.

I'd describe what happened a little differently from Matt.  The Grover Norquist Americans for Tax Reform Pledge the Rs signed is pretty clear:
ONE, oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses; and
TWO, oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates.
(Emphasis added.)  What the Rs did is to violate and abandon the pledge.  Time to acknowledge who's doing some class warfare.


dhogaza said...

Cool. One of those pushing filibuster reform has been Jeff Merkel, junior Senator from my state, Oregon. He ran on that issue (among others, of course) and has followed through.

He's claimed from the beginning that there's a filibuster-proof path to the reform of Senate rules (and of course, the filibuster rules been changed at least twice, the first time when a rule was made, the second time in the 60s IIIRC when we went from 67 votes for cloture to 60).

Glad to see Reid's come around.

Oregon has a different form of requiring a supermajority to raise taxes - thanks to a relatively recent referendum, we need 50%+1 of the REGISTERED VOTERS to approve, not 50%+1 of those who VOTE.

This lead to interesting complaints by republicans over increased funding to more efficiently clean the registration records of dead people, who in the past weren't particularly important, but under the new scheme in essence counted as "no" votes.

Anonymous said...

The idiocy of this idea warrents no further discussion.

Celery Eater

David B. Benson said...

A supermajority can certainly be part of a democracy. Its just if we want it to be or not.

Note the requirement for treaty ratification and constitutional amendments.