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Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by mcrain, May 15, 2012.
Something needs to change.
I wonder if these filibusters were being used against things such as abortion legislations or taking away gay rights if we would be seeing the same posts. Filibusters have been ramping up at a pretty constant pace every year, its not as if Republicans invented it in the 2010-2011 sessions. You just happen to agree with the legislation they don't want to get through.
Actually, I agree with sensible use of the filibuster. I have no problem with Democrats using it to block something contentious, and I have no problem with Republicans using it to block something contentious, but the GOP has gotten to the point where it considers votes on the debt limit to be contentious. They have lost all sense of statesmanship and representation.
It is not at all surprising that the Democrats have used the filibuster as well considering the degree to which the GOP has moved to the right. That being said, you point to whatever legislation the Democrats opposed through filibuster, and I'll be happy to have a discussion about whether the filibuster was reasonable or not.
My guess, having not done the research, is that the items filibustered by the Democrats might be a little less outrageous than those filibustered by the GOP today.
(edit) I find it amusing to see how much the use has dropped off since the GOP took control of the House and just stopped working. There's almost nothing left to filibuster, the GOP do-nothing congress of 2011-12 is truly historic in it lack of work product.
Let's get a little reality here. While the filibuster is being abused by Republicans, what about Harry Reid not allowing bills to come to the floor for a vote. Just as obstructionist IMO.
While budget ceilings may not be a contentious subject in your mind, it is to many Americans. This borrow now pay never mentality has rooted itself deep in American culture and there has been a rejection of that ideal in pockets following the housing crisis in 2008.
While technically it doesn't really matter whether we have 14 trillion or 15 trillion in debt the perceptions of the people are important because that's what gives currency it's value. It is just paper and digits in computers after all.
I don't disagree that it is an important issue, but the filibuster is not the proper means of having a reasonable discussion. When you are the minority party, you are going to lose some argument because you are supposed to lose those arguments. If the majority of people agreed with you, you would be in the majority!
But what about the minority party not being able to have their bills make it to the floor for a vote? Isn't that as much obstruction as the filibuster?
It is, and it isn't. The majority should allow the minority an opportunity to be heard, but it shouldn't be forced to hold votes on bills that can't pass. Both parties (but especially the recent GOP) love to put bills (and amendments) up for vote that don't have a chance of passing solely for the purpose of forcing opponents to vote for or against something.
A good example is a vote against an education bill because of an amendment to defund medicare. No, that doesn't mean you are against education, but you vote that way because of some other issue. But, and this is a big one, keeping those kinds of things off of the floor actually is supposed to make the system more efficient.
The GOP is filibustering things that have majority support! They are effectively preventing things that would pass from even getting to the voting stage because they KNOW they will lose.
Has anyone done a study as to what a filibusterer minute costs the American taxpayer?
Well, the GOP is running a campaign for the presidency claiming that President Obama failed, and the economy hasn't improved enough. Considering they have blocked most of his economic proposals, I would say the cost of the filibuster is the damage done to our economy.
Yes, yes, but I meant a non-partisan answer, in dollars.
All the salaries, including administrative staff, paper work, the Library of Congress, etc, the lot.
Well, that's difficult because things that don't have a dollar figure create all sorts of other problems. For example, the GOP filibustered anything related to the consumer protection bill, which caused the agency to have all sorts of problems. They have also held up the appointment of many judges and other appointed positions (that aren't opposed), which is causing massive backlog of dockets in federal court. That slows things down, creates problems for litigants, etc...
OK, OK, how about just on The Hill.
Is that better?
However, the budget ceiling debate is the worst venue for a discussion about the budget. By the time that Congress is digesting the ceiling limits, the spending was already authorized. At best, it's an opportunity for gamesmanship which is the last thing the economy needs. Last year's debacle just tripped up the recovery, what benefit will a similar action give us?
It's equally stupid, although I would argue that the structure of Congress should allow for some bills to fail. The problem with the filibuster is it allows a small minority of people to hold the entire body hostage rather than simply stalling part of the process on what might be a bad bill.
OK, I have actually crunched some numbers for 2011.
The sources are:
So, $45K per minute. I would take that, in a heart-beat.
Your ~$4.7-billion figure is the amount appropriated to the entire Legislative Branch, so while it does include salaries for the Senate and House and their staff members and office expenses, it also includes monies for the operation of supportive agencies that include the U.S. Capitol Police, Architect of the Capitol, Congressional Budget Office (CBO), Library of Congress (LOC), Government Accountability Office (GAO), Government Printing Office (GPO), Office of Compliance, Open World Leadership Center, and the John C. Stennis Center for Public Service Training and Development.
See chart, below, from: Legislative Branch: FY2012 Appropriations (PDF)
OK, but some of those things are supportive of The House when it sits.
Even so, just The House is $25,135.95 a minute.
Is than really any better, for what is essentially reading a phone book?
Yes, some of those things includes direct supportive services provided directly for Congress, but the supportive agencies do much more than just working for Congress. It's not like everyone is standing around twiddling their thumbs! Regardless of whether or not either the Senate or House is in session (or otherwise being productive): the U.S. Capitol Building and its grounds is still open for >3-million visitors annually, and the building/grounds are still patrolled and protected by the Capitol Police; the Library of Congress is still open and processing/cataloging/preserving copyright registrations for creative works and providing related services that include accommodating >1.7-million visitors per year; the Government Printing Office is still producing and cataloging 10s of 1,000s of documents; and the Architect of the Capitol's office is still preserving, maintaining, and operating the Capitol building and its grounds.
Ahhh, but that is part of the problem. It would almost be worth it to pay $25,000 per minute if the senators who blocked things had to actually do it publicly and actively. As it is, there are anonymous holds and weird cloture rules that don't require an actual filibuster. In other words, all that the minority has to do is threaten a filibuster, and a bill stops. I think there would be far fewer filibusters, and they would be reserved for real ideologally important issues, if the person filibustering had to actually stand and speak.
The GOP wants everything stopped in it's tracks, they've been willing to wait 4 years until they can get a GOP President in place. This is not governing. They should be tossed out for dereliction of duty, but I'm sure if you asked them they'd insist they are doing what's necessary to save the country, at least their version of the country.