Today, Ezra Klein, following Paul Krugman a few days ago, kicks the campaign to end the filibuster into high gear, with an op-ed of his own, interviews with Senators Tom Harkin and Jeff Merkeley, SEIU President Andy Stern, and my friend and colleague Barbara Sinclair — all of which point to the dysfunctionality of the Senate and the need to change it.
Everyone should recall, however, that there is an easy way to do this: follow the rules.
A series of parliamentary rulings from Senate Presidents Nixon, Humphrey, and Rockefeller — not generally thought of as a radical, pro-Democratic cabal, held quite clearly that at the beginning of a congressional session, the majority of either House has the right to enact rules by a simple majority. These rulings are so bulletproof that they were even endorsed by Orrin Hatch, at least when the GOP had the majority. Hatch has never made intellectual honesty his strong suit, but at least he’s got a paper trail on this.
That means that the key time in January 2011. I figure that the Democrats will lose a couple of seats total in this year’s midterms, which means that their legislative agenda is effectively over unless they change the rules, which they have every legal and moral right to do. They should do so.
And if they don’t, then they have no right to complain — or ask for contributions in the future.