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Republican Fantasy Land

At the end of a Washington Times article on how the president is losing the Social Security battle we get this:

The senior Republican senator said privately that the only way to avoid a bad deal on Social Security may be "to pull the trigger on the nuclear option."

This, he said, would mean changing Senate rules to force an end to Democratic filibusters and a vote on Mr. Bush's judicial nominees. The Democrats likely would retaliate by filibustering all Republican bills. Republicans then could blame Democrats for blocking Social Security reform.

I had to read that a couple of times until I got it. But now I see what the Senator meant. He means that he and his colleagues don't like being stuck between the president's pressure to endorse his plan, and the public's pressure not to pass his plan. The ideal way out of the impasse would be for the GOP to go nuclear on the filibuster issue, which will lead Democrats to shut down the Senate entirely, thus getting Republican Senators off the hook. To the White House and the privateer money bags they can say, "hey! we would have passed it if it hadn't been for those Democrats" and to the voters they can say, "hey! I never voted for any such thing."

March 12, 2005 | Permalink

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Comments

Kewl

Posted by: Pork roll egg & cheese (on a kaiser bun) | Mar 12, 2005 11:44:14 PM

shit. heads.

Posted by: Patrick Smith | Mar 13, 2005 12:07:09 AM

It's so crazy it... just... might... work.

Posted by: Tristan Palmgren | Mar 13, 2005 12:21:08 AM

They would never do that. To do that would require that the Republicans not be interested in doing what is best for US citizens. It would require that Republicans be interested only in the fooling voters. It would require that.....oh, wait a second .......

Posted by: Vaughn Hopkins | Mar 13, 2005 12:25:13 AM

"To the White House and the privateer money bags they can say, 'hey! we would have passed it if it hadn't been for those Democrats'"

They wouldn't have to. If the senate grinds to a halt due to Democratic obstruction, the privateer money bags would be so happy they wouldn't care about social security privatization. Plus, we'd get more conservative judicial appointments, which is one of the few things in the Republican platform that still excites me. I hope they go for it.

Posted by: Xavier | Mar 13, 2005 1:12:23 AM

If they go fully nuclear, on all bills, then they only need 51 votes to pass Social Security privatization. I think they would find that a little difficult to blame on Democrats.

If they go only nuclear on judges, but use 60-vote cloture for SS, that will also not be easy to justify.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Mar 13, 2005 2:36:50 AM

If the senate grinds to a halt due to Democratic obstruction, the privateer money bags would be so happy they wouldn't care about social security privatization.

Au contraire, the money bags would be very unhappy. They just got their bankruptcy bill and they are looking forward to many more wonderfull gifts - such as the tort reform, new tax cuts, extending old tax cuts and so on.

Posted by: abb1 | Mar 13, 2005 2:59:27 AM

The GOP has tired of the burden of being the majority in the House of Representatives.

Posted by: Petey | Mar 13, 2005 5:09:48 AM

IMHO, it sounds like the republicans in the Senate will use public hatred as a mechanism to make law. Regardless of whether or not the law is valid, manuevering the public hatred towards the opposition as a means by which to pass or blame a bill is a low political blow.

If the Democrats are smart....they should turn the tables on the republicans and never let them manipulate their objections. That's been their problem since 1994 when the republicans to charge of the Legislature.

It's all in the hands of the Senate Democrats and there are some who are wishy-washy in their loyality to the Party and the People they represent.

regards

.

Posted by: MLCole | Mar 13, 2005 6:00:07 AM

Really kewl.

Except it ignores the reality that "Nothing" is a solid, empirically based, founded on numbers plan for "fixing" Social Security.

Any campaign to blame Democrats for not participating in "fixing" a "crisis" that real world numbers shows to be phony is going to backfire "Well no, we chose not to step onto the Third Rail, because in the final analysis Social Security is not broke".

Republicans are stuck here. Moving forward is fatal, stepping back reveals them as wimps or liars. From a Democratic perspective what's not to like?

I am placing a bet on the American economy to perform pretty much as well in the future as it has in the past. Privatizers are in the position of claiming that either the American economy will go into the permanent toilet to justify shortfall, or admitting that they were just shilling for Wall Street to sell private accounts. Which puts Democrats in the enviable position to ask "Do you just hate America or are you simply a corporate whore?"

(And for the sensitive types out there, I wasn't the editor who advised Ann Coulter to entitle her book "Treason". Liberals have been taking it for years, time to deploy the flag on our side for once.)

Posted by: Bruce Webb | Mar 13, 2005 7:14:53 AM

Well, sure, shutting down the Senate might bail out the Republicans on some issues that are politically unpleasant. But, perhaps we might count on Harry Reid to be a little clever here. That is, withhold unanimous consent on all Senate business *except* SS reform. Let them bring on whatever bill they want, and let them vote on it. Say so publicly: "The President says SS reform is vital; we won't stand in the way of whatever legislation they wish to consider. We won't vote for it, because it's evil, but we won't stop Republicans from voting for it."

Posted by: John Casey | Mar 13, 2005 9:46:40 AM

i agree that in the near term dems are in a good position on SS and perhaps thats all that counts now
however in the long run all Bush needs is to pack the court with extreem right wing justices who side with the constitution in exile (see Mark Schmitt's blog; their purpose all along in demonizing Roe v Wade)
such justices will reverse settled SC doctrine and ultimately SS, Medicare, etc. will be ruled unconstitutional infringement of federals on private enterprise freedom of contract rights

Posted by: David C. Mace | Mar 13, 2005 10:10:55 AM

"Republicans are stuck here. Moving forward is fatal, stepping back reveals them as wimps or liars."

But exploding the Senate will make voters fall in love with Republican rule.

I love how lots of Republicans who don't have to face the voters in 2006 are conspiring against Republicans in the House who will have to face some angry voters - first the administration with Social Security privatization, and now the Senate with "nuclear options".

Posted by: Petey | Mar 13, 2005 10:41:50 AM

Isn't the nuclear option only viable w/r/t to judicial nominees. I thought I read on M Schmitt's site that there's some sort of rule in place that mandates a 60% majority for any substantive changes to SS.

Posted by: fnook | Mar 13, 2005 11:03:41 AM

"Isn't the nuclear option only viable w/r/t to judicial nominees. I thought I read on M Schmitt's site that there's some sort of rule in place that mandates a 60% majority for any substantive changes to SS."

For a variety of strategic reasons, the GOP has no intention or desire to erode the filibuster rule for anything beyond judicial nominations. This means they aren't planning on doing anything to SS without 60 votes for cloture.

But it's definitely worth remembering that 50 + 1 of the Senate has the power to dispense with any rule.

Posted by: Petey | Mar 13, 2005 11:23:46 AM

>rule in place that mandates a 60% majority for any substantive changes to SS

The budget reconciliation process can't be filibustered, so that's
one way the Repubs pass crazy stuff. But the Byrd rule forbids
using that loophole to pass anything that would either significantly
increase the deficit, or change Social Security. Not sure what it
would take to change that rule.

Anyway, if the Repubs try the "nuclear option" of restricting or
eliminating filibusters, the Dems can respond by shutting down
any or all business, since much of the Senate process requires
unanimous consent - for example, waiving the requirement to
read all legislation in full on the Senate floor. Make them
read a few 1000-page bills aloud, and see how much time that
leaves for other business.

Republicans are foolish to start this talk about changing the
rules: the over-representation of small-population states
already favors them in the Senate, and of course they benefited
from the archaic Electoral College in 2000. If you're going
to change the rules, then people may well start demanding a
more truly (small-d) democratic system, and that could be a
long-term disaster for the Republican party.

Posted by: Richard Cownie | Mar 13, 2005 11:29:16 AM

Thanks for the good info, and don't get me started about the over-representation of small-population states. My biggest worry is that the D's won't have the courage of their convictions and the patience necessary to play good solid defense and then counter-attack when good opportunities arise. We need some selfless team play if we're going to come out of Bush's 2nd term in a better position than when we started.

Posted by: fnook | Mar 13, 2005 11:42:06 AM

"But the Byrd rule forbids using that loophole to pass anything that would either significantly increase the deficit, or change Social Security. Not sure what it would take to change that rule."

The same as it would to take to change any other rule: 50 + 1 of the Senate.

The GOP won't be trying to change this rule because having the filibuster rule remain in place for legislation fits their longterm strategic goals.

"Republicans are foolish to start this talk about changing the rules"

I think that actually using the "nuclear option" on judicial nominees (which now seems likely) is beyond foolish for the Republicans.

With GOP control across the board in Washington, anything that creates the appearance of a "mess in Washington" will create extreme peril for the GOP in 2006. Combined with a motivated senior vote, it seems as if the GOP is actually trying to give back control of the House.

And even more importantly, this will end up weakening the logic behind the filibuster rule for ordinary legislation. I think you'd find few if any voices in the Republican party who would be happy with the destruction of the filibuster rule for ordinary legislation.

---

And all this is happening because Bill Frist want to run for President.

Posted by: Petey | Mar 13, 2005 11:43:49 AM

To: Rahm Emmanuel
Re: Taking back the House in 2006

- Tom DeLay. Washington is corrupt.
- Nuclear strife in the Senate. Washington only bickers.
- Social Security Privatization. The GOP is trying to take away your SS. Get out there and tell them not to.

Posted by: Petey | Mar 13, 2005 4:10:29 PM

" But the Byrd rule forbids"

The Byrd rule, which reduced the number to beat a filibuster from 67 votes to 60, was passed in violation of the Byrd rule, by a majority vote. The idea that Republicans can't change the rules in EXACTLY the same way Democrats did a few decades ago is logically incoherent.

As I recall, the last time Republicans shut down the government, they didn't exactly get pelted with rose petals by the voters. So, go ahead and shut the place down, your "Screw elections, we ought to get our way even though we're the mainority!" tantrum ought to be really popular...

Posted by: Brett Bellmore | Mar 13, 2005 5:37:11 PM

"The Byrd rule, which reduced the number to beat a filibuster from 67 votes to 60..."

Robert Byrd opposed that change.

The 'Byrd rule' folks are discussing said that SS legislation couldn't be attached to the annual budget resolution.

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Posted by: ghkl | Aug 31, 2006 9:48:54 AM

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