This Old House: McCarthy and Structural Politics

The Founders also believed that the government that ruled least, ruled best; and they built a system around that belief. It takes both chambers of Congress plus the President to get much of anything done. As we saw when Sen. Reid controlled the Senate, he was able to block everything he did not approve of. When he lost control, a single Democrat senator still can force a 60 vote majority to get anything done. And even if that hurdle is met, the President can force a two thirds majority to get anything done that doesn’t meet his demands.

It isn’t the structure that needs changing. It worked pretty well under Presidents Reagan, Clinton, and both Bush 41 and 43. What has changed is the utter unwillingness of those holding the power to yield anything to the other side. A win-at-all-costs attitude has taken hold. Our President went years without even a phone call to Congressional Republican leaders. A guard was placed at the door of the House room where the Stimulus Bill was being written, to keep Republicans out. the President today has laid out several demands for the coming budget to meet, or he will veto it and thus shut down the government.

What is the major demand of the Tea Party faction of the House? That all bills be brought to the floor for open discussion, instead of tabled; that all who want to propose amendments be allowed to do so; that all such bills be subject to a vote. Open government, debate, votes; hardly revolutionary. Where is the call on the Democrat side for not changing the rules of the Senate whenever Democrats want to push something through and around Republicans? Or not refusing to seat a duly elected Senator because he promised to vote against a Democrat bill? Or for allowing Republican Senators to offer amendments to bills?

Any and all of the reforms suggested in this article would be used and abused to block good governance, unless and until this “Transformation of America” is undone. I’m not holding my breath.

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