A dangerously dysfunctional liberal
OK, quit laughing. Paul Krugman, the guy who won a Nobel prize for economics for criticizing George Bush ad nauseum, still lives on that one trick. Citing a laundry list of bizarre claims, he criticizes Bush even though Bush had nothing to do with any of the issues. But, the issues are complex and many. He was busy last night apparently.
Unless some legislator pulls off a last-minute double-cross, health care reform will pass the Senate this week. Count me among those who consider this an awesome achievement. It’s a seriously flawed bill, we’ll spend years if not decades fixing it, but it’s nonetheless a huge step forward.
Ya get that? Now, the Republicans argument was it was a seriously flawed bill that we’ll spend years if not decades fixing. Why not slow down and get it right? Krugman then trashes the Republicans for acting on what he just criticized. Coming from a Nobel economist, that’s kinda scary. He’s saying it’s a huge step forward screwing up about 20% of our entire economy. Sounds kind dysfunctional to me.
After all, Democrats won big last year, running on a platform that put health reform front and center. In any other advanced democracy this would have given them the mandate and the ability to make major changes.
And it did. They have the mandate.
But the need for 60 votes to cut off Senate debate and end a filibuster — a requirement that appears nowhere in the Constitution, but is simply a self-imposed rule — turned what should have been a straightforward piece of legislating into a nail-biter. And it gave a handful of wavering senators extraordinary power to shape the bill.
Each piece of legislation comes with it’s own rules. If a piece of legislation requires a simple majority, that’s the way it is. The Democrats have the super-majority. It’s no one else’s fault they’re not getting anything serious done.
Back in the mid-1990s two senators — Tom Harkin and, believe it or not, Joe Lieberman — introduced a bill to reform Senate procedures. (Management wants me to make it clear that in my last column I wasn’t endorsing inappropriate threats against Mr. Lieberman.) Sixty votes would still be needed to end a filibuster at the beginning of debate, but if that vote failed, another vote could be held a couple of days later requiring only 57 senators, then another, and eventually a simple majority could end debate. Mr. Harkin says that he’s considering reintroducing that proposal, and he should.
Why even bother? Just let the controlling party enact whatever legislation they want. Do away with super-majorities and filibusters entirely. Whoever wins gets it all. The losing party members take a vacation for two years. There’d be no need for Congress or Senate. If the president and majority are the same party, it’s a done deal. If they’re not of the same party, then you’ve got a stalemate that would require some finagling. Sounds like a socialist wet dream. Now, what Krugman would have to take into consideration is the last eight years before 2008 would have been 100% Bush’s whims. There would have been no reining him in. Is that truly what a Nobel economist thinks is a good economic situation? Want an endless list of why it’s not? We’ll start with Lenin. Communist Russia never had to to worry about competing parties. it collapsed economically. Coincidence?
It’s amazing that because Obama‘s not getting what he wants in a timely enough manner, a Nobel economist thinks we should abandon the US Constitution entirely.
Here’s an even bigger new flash, the seriously flawed bill that we’ll spend years if not decades fixing it, but nonetheless is a huge step forward according to Krugman, isn’t even what Obama wanted in the first place. Is that because Republicans filibustered it? No. It’s because Ben Nelson secured a rather bizarre assurance that Nebraska will never have to cover it’s additional share of Medicare. Nebraska gets a special prize with Medicare, Utah gets an extra Congressman. What other abuses does Krugman think would have benefited the country if Obama, Reid, and Pelosi didn’t have to worry about a minority party?