Bluff, called

No, the Republicans don’t have the votes to block New START in revenge for DADT repeal. Now if Tom Coburn wants to spend from now to January 4 arguing about whether to provide health care for the 9/11 first responders, Reid’s attitude should be, “Bring it on.”

So it turns out that Sen. Bob Corker was full of it when he threatened that his side would derail the New START treaty in revenge for the Obama/Reid decision to press ahead on repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. It now looks as if the treaty will pass with at least one vote to spare: and that Corker will vote for it, unless his diaper comes unpinned first.

Of course, START is no progressive triumph; it’s what ought to be a fairly uncontroversial piece of arms control business. But it’s good to know that, while a majority of today’s GOP Senate caucus is either completely batsh*t insane or so partisan as not to care, enough of them will do the right thing to get the treaty through.

That, plus more than a dozen judicial confirmations apparently in the works, makes a pretty good Lame Duck, despite the loss of the DREAM Act and giving rich people a few hundred billion dollars we don’t have and they don’t need via the tax cut extension.

Now if Tom Coburn wants to filibuster the relief bill for 9/11 first responders, Harry Reid’s respose ought to be “Bring it on.” I can’t imagine an argument the Republicans ought to be less eager to have. The threat of keeping the Senate in session straight through to Jan. 4 – plenty of calendar time to beat a filibuster – should be enough to bring Coburn to heel. If not, a fight to the bitter end would be a fitting conclusion to the historically productive 111th Congress.

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