Filibuster reform campaign heating up?

Maybe. Reid is now on board, and Schumer plans hearings.

Harry Reid, who has been disappointing on filibuster reform so far, seems to be changing his mind. And Chuck Schumer plans to hold hearings in the Senate Rules Committee. I continue to think that filibuster reform, as the legislative face of a broader campaign targeting Republican obstructionism, is a winning issue for Democrats in November: but only if there’s a focused and noisy campaign about it.

And speaking of November, does a six-point Democratic advantage in the generic Congressional ballot (44-38) sound like a harbinger of a Republican wave election to you? Me neither.

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

10 thoughts on “Filibuster reform campaign heating up?”

  1. Also from the same article you linked to –

    "Still, Democrats are vulnerable, and perhaps nothing illustrates that vulnerability better than this: By 67 percent to 59 percent, more independents disapprove of Democrats in Congress than disapprove of Republicans. This matters because independents usually determine who wins elections. And they have been moving away from Democrats, after heavily supporting them in 2006 and 2008."

    Not saying Democrats will get shellacked . . . but it helps to quote all relevant statistics.

  2. But as Matt Yglesias has pointed out, the real question in determining whether the Democrats will lose seats in Congress is not whether the Democrats have an overall electoral advantage, but whether their advantage is as large in 2010 as it was in 2008. Particularly wrt the House since every member is up for reelection. Winnng the national vote probably means that they stay in the majority, but that's a lot different than saying that the size ofthe majority remains constant. As we're seeng right now with the whip count for the health bill in the house, the size of the majority still matters.

  3. Filibuster reform will be almost useless without eliminating the "Senatorial hold" privilege. And that reform would not require much at all… and if the Senate won't eliminate it entirely, it could:

    * eliminate the anonymity and require posting of holds, by name of Senator, in the Congressional Record;

    * eliminate holds for some classes of things (such as non-tenured Presidential appointments) while retaining them for others, where there is at least a passes-the-laugh-test rationale for allowing sparing use of holds (such as tenured and ambassadorial Presidential appointments)

    I think I need point only to the Fourth Circuit's sorry record of judicial vacancies to deal with this; or, perhaps, just to Sen. Sessions (Secessionist Party – CSA).

  4. That's not a generic Congressional ballot. A "generic Congressional ballot" asks registered voters who they'd support in the election if it were held today. This polls asks adults–not registered or likely voters–who they would like to control Congress. Not close to the same thing. As for whether this will be a wave election: define "wave" and put your money on the line.

  5. The Democrats are no by means safe from any trouble in November, as others here have stated. But at the same time, unless this one poll is an outlier, it's hardly sensible for people to be talking about a Republican takeover of the House and even possibly the Senate when they are six points behind.

    They will almost certain lose a decent number of seats, but anything less than 20 is a good result. Anything less than 10 is horrendous for the Republicans. A lot can change from now until June, let alone now until November, but if the Democrats run smart campaigns from now until then, I think they can avoid the sort of horror stories some are peddling, whether or not the economy moves more sharply in their direction.

  6. Thomas,

    If you had read just the very next paragraph, you'd read the following:

    Republicans still trail Democrats on the question of who should win control of Congress come November; 44 percent say Democrats, 38 percent say Republicans.

    I don't know how much clearer it can be said.

  7. Brian, did you not read my comment? That's not a generic ballot. A generic ballot poll asks registered voters (or likely voters) who they would vote for, if the election were held today. You do see, don't you, that this poll didn't ask that question at all? Asking who should win control of Congress is not the same question as who would you vote for if the election were today. And asking adults isn't the same thing as asking voters. I don't know how much clearer I can be.

  8. The Democrats can change these numbers. The best campaign they can wage is the one on Capital Hill. Start passing legislation that helps the american people. A few months of saying 'screw what GOPers want' and ramming through tough banking regulations, help for folks with under water mortgages, HCR, real jobs creation, help for student loans… in short, all of the things the voters wanted done when they put Democrats in charge.

    Filibuster reform? It's a good start. Joe Biden declares it unconstitutional and the Dems vote it out. Then start rolling over the PARTY OF NO with a resounding YES! Just pretend you are Republicans but with a will to do good instead of evil.

    The best way to get reelected is to stop being scared of the opposition and kick their buts where it counts, on Capital Hill!

  9. "Start passing legislation that helps the American people."

    Indeed, take all the whipped cream and cherries that have been added to the health care bill in an effort to get it passed, and start passing them as stand alone bills, and you might actually build up enough political capital to pass health care reform on it's own merits in a year or two. This insistence on staking it all on one big bill is an awfully high stakes gamble.

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