Roll, Tide, roll!

The massive budget deficits that Barack Obama inherited – the predictable, and predicted, consequence of Bush Administration profligacy and the Great Recession – have been likened to a flood of red ink.  Now the President is trying to control the flood by cutting wasteful programs, and Sen. Shelby has responded to the elimination of two of his favorite pieces of pork by shutting down the confirmation process for all Presidential nominees.

Maybe Shelby can’t tell the difference between a flood of red ink and a Crimson Tide?

Update “Crimson Tide” has lost out as the label for this scandal. It’s now officially the “Shelby Shakedown.”

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

14 thoughts on “Roll, Tide, roll!”

  1. There have to be consequences to this sort of misbehavior, and recess appointments to every last nominee-in-waiting should just be the start of things. No Shelby-sponsored amendments to the floor or any of his committees, no Shelby-sponsored earmarks, nada, nothing.

  2. Where's the Tea Party morons when they can actually serve a purpose here? They met recently in Tennessee, right? Alabama is just next door.

  3. The Tea Party crowd want to destroy Obama, so naturally will favor Shelby's 'resolute resistance to tyranny' or something. They will be creative about rationalizing this 'hold up'. Somebody ought to make an ad portraying Shelby walking into a bank and holding it up at gun-point. Leave nothing to the imagination, since otherwise too many people just miss the point: 'Gimme my earmark money NOW, or you're all fired!'

  4. Shelby's complaint evidently involves funding for 2 Alabama-based national-security items: a proposal to build refueling planes in Mobile, Alabama, & a Shelby earmark to build an FBI IED lab at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama.

    Most of the voters who'd strongly disapprove of Republican obstructionism in the Congress do not know it's happening. But if Shelby were trying to help these people get it, he couldn't have done better work. Democrats are crazy if they don't not only fight this but make it a huge teaching moment.

  5. Robert Gibbs referred to this as "silliness". He didn't even explicitly mention the Republicans, just as an example of the "way Washington works." Per K's formulation above, I'm afraid the "Democrats are crazy."

  6. Dennis says:

    "There have to be consequences to this sort of misbehavior, and recess appointments to every last nominee-in-waiting should just be the start of things. No Shelby-sponsored amendments to the floor or any of his committees, no Shelby-sponsored earmarks, nada, nothing."

    The whole d*mn problem is that Obama and Reid have made it crystal clear that there are never any consequences to such behavior. At this point, the GOP + the Blue Dogs + Lyingberman have zero respect for Barack 'One Term' Obama, and are acting accordingly.

  7. Dennis says:

    “There have to be consequences to this sort of misbehavior, and recess appointments to every last nominee-in-waiting should just be the start of things. No Shelby-sponsored amendments to the floor or any of his committees, no Shelby-sponsored earmarks, nada, nothing.”

    Shelby isn't the problem so much as is the rule allowing a single senator to place a hold on a nomination. It is wrong to allow a hold on even a single nomination; Shelby's action is worse in degree, not in kind. So the Democrats shouldn't bother to punish Shelby, but should get rid of the rule. But I'm about as optimistic as Barry is about the Democrats doing anything.

  8. It's not even a "rule", as I understand it, it's just a "courtesy" the leadership extends to individual Senators.

    The problem here is that the Senators view the Senate as nothing more than an exclusive club with a lot of perks, and their role in running the country as an annoying formality which can't be permitted to get in the way of the club being a pleasant place to hang out. The best thing we could to is replace the whole bunch of them, en mass.

  9. I agree with Brett, but let's keep Al Franken. He's only had half a year and he's already making an impact.

  10. No, Brett. No. It's not a "courtesy." It's an extortion racket. The "hold" is not a rule, but the filibuster is a rule: Rule XXII. A hold is a threat to filibuster, and it's quite potent. Even if the votes for cloture are there, it takes 90 hours of floor time to work through the process.

  11. You can place a secret hold. You can't secretly filibuster. Reid made the threat cheap. And he didn't have to.

  12. I hate to say it, but Brett's right here, on both comments.

    Mark Kleiman says:

    "No, Brett. No. It’s not a “courtesy.” It’s an extortion racket. The “hold” is not a rule, but the filibuster is a rule: Rule XXII. A hold is a threat to filibuster, and it’s quite potent. Even if the votes for cloture are there, it takes 90 hours of floor time to work through the process."

    Here's the trick, Mark – just WTF will Obama and Reid do about this. What you're saying is that any senator can *all on his own* shut down the Senate, and vast chunks of government business. That's an awesome power. If there is no credible retaliation, then that's awesome power with no binding limitations.

    Please note also, that no Dirty F*cking Hippies were involved with this – this is a straight up GOP nuclear strike at the administration. And if it's dealt with by giving Shelby what he wants, with no retaliation, then any honest, intelligent person can see what the inevitable result will be over the next few months and years.

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