Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Mystery Solved

I've written before about why having sixty Democratic Senators isn't going to help ordinary Americans all that much. As Brian Beutler noted today at Talking Points Memo, having forty Republican Senators gives the GOP exactly what it wants:

A Congressional Quarterly article about GOP efforts to get conservative Democrats to oppose major legislation contains an interesting admission from Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH).

Acording to the piece, Republicans "have vowed to block, reshape or defeat a number of Democratic initiatives in coming months, even though Specter's defection has left the Senate Republican caucus with just 40 members."

But in a 99-member Senate, 40 votes are enough to keep Democrats from cutting off debate on major legislation. "Usually you need 41 votes to get anything done around here. But right now, you can do a lot with 40 votes,'' said Judd Gregg

In a 99-seat Senate, 40 votes isn't nearly enough to "get anything done." Not at all. It is rather the bare minimum necessary to make sure nothing gets done. And it explains why so many Republican senators will routinely vote against cloture on major Democratic agenda items. It's called a filibuster--and it isn't typically thought of as way to "get stuff done."

An Accidental Moment Of Candor From Judd Gregg: With Franken Tied Up, 'We Can Do A Lot With 40 Votes'

What does it want? The truth isn't that they want to obstruct. They want to have power of some sort. If they can obstruct legislation, they have power. In short, they matter, and are thus worth bribingsupporting with campaign contributions.

If they can't obstruct on their own, then the people who may matter the most will be the Blue Dog Democrats. Clearly, the GOP don't want that to happen.

In my younger days, I often asked myself what kind of person would put up with the nonsense of running a political campaign in order to hold public office. As I grew older, I came to realize that, all too often, this is the sort of person who does.

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