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January 25, 2013

Levin on Filibuster: Cynical Deception or an Idiot?

Posted in: Broken Government

Carl Levin

Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI)

One of the most painful things about following Congress is that it is often hard to tell if a member is being an idiot or engaged in a cynical attempt to hide their true position. You can try to educate the uninformed but you can only hope to relentlessly expose the lies.

The latest game of “cynical or idiot” revolves around Carl Levin’s (D-MI) confusing argument against eliminating the filibuster. Via TPM:

Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) was pleased that the deal looks like the proposal he put forth to avoid enacting further-reaching reforms with 51-votes.

“Look, we just can’t have a situation in the Senate where the majority can decide what the rules are at any time,” Levin told reporters. “Those aren’t rules. … That just becomes like the House of Representatives. So we avoided using a nuclear option which, I guarantee you, would’ve led to a meltdown in the Senate. It would’ve made the gridlock we’ve seen so far look like a Sunday school picnic.

I have heard many Senators complaints about the House, such that the Speaker is basically all-powerful and debate is limited, but never the complaint that it is easily subject to gridlock. Bills that are supported by the House majority almost always get approved quickly and easily. In this way the House is like almost every legislative chamber in the democratic world. The reason there is little gridlock in the House is that the House majority adopted rules making it impossible for the minority to obstruct, unlike in the Senate. The lack of gridlock is what distinguishes the House from the Senate.

Levin is trying argue that eliminating the filibuster would make the Senate like the House, which has no gridlock, and at the same time argue it would some how make gridlock much worse. Somehow Levin expects us to believe that eliminating the ability of the minority to obstruct would magically result in more obstruction.

Photo by Matt Hampel under Creative Commons license


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