Two More Filibusters

Senate Republicans have now decided to filibuster two MORE critical bills coming out of the House, as well as Senate committees. One bill would amend the Alternative Minimum Tax to give relief to middle-income taxpayers; the other is the energy bill, which would raise federal fuel efficiency standards for the first time in 30 years and set renewable energy portfolio standards.

Their ostensible reasons? On the AMT, it’s because the Democrats propose to pay for middle-income tax relief by repealing some Bush’s tax cuts for the very wealthy. On the energy, it is supposedly due to the renewable portfolio and because the bill repeals tax cuts for oil companies. But this is just about making the Democrats look bad: these filibusters will break the record for an entire Congress before the first session of this current Congress is even over.

Memo to Harry Reid: Now is the time to force them to filibuster for real. The public is on the Democrats’ side.

This really is pretty simple. The Republicans deny the middle class a tax cut because they are more interested in protecting the $370,000 a year crowd. And they are uninterested in helping protect us from dependence on foreign oil.

The feckless press simply won’t get this unless there are visuals: they will keep maundering on about the Do-Nothing Congress. So: No more fake filibusters. No more bringing in the cots for one night. Make them stand up there day after day and explain why they are stopping a middle-class tax cut and preventing America from starting to move to energy independence. Make them keep saying it–day after day.

Now is the time.

Author: Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees. Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses. Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.