Monday, December 14, 2009

LIEberman's Obstruction - Harkin's Solution

Traitor Joe LIEberman it at it again, doing everything possible to derail authentic reform.

Lieberman_puppet_SM It's starting to seem like it may just be better for Dems to try to make a deal with Olympia Snowe, kick Joe Lieberman out of the party and be done with it. The leadership in the senate thought that Lieberman was on board with the latest compromise. But in an appearance on Face the Nation and later in a sit-down with Sen. Reid, Lieberman said he'd join the Republican filibuster if the Medicare buy-in remained in the bill.

What's most telling about Lieberman isn't his positions, which are not that much different from Sen. Nelson's and perhaps Sen. Lincoln's. It's more that he seems to keep upping the ante just when the rest of the caucus thinks they've got a deal.

If it happened once, a misunderstanding might be a credible explanation. But it's happened too many times. Sen. Nelson has driven Dems to distraction on this bill. But his demands have been fairly consistent over time. Lieberman just doesn't seem to be negotiating in good faith. He keeps pulling his caucus to some new compromise, waiting a few days and then saying he can't agree to that either

Inserted from <TPM>

I have no doubt whatsoever that LIEberschmuck is representing his true party, the GOP, from within the Democratic caucus to devastating effect.  Traitor Joe has to go!

But what about the 60 vote majority we need in the Senate for many different measures?  Sen. Tom Harkin offers a solution.

harkin Revenge could have been sweet.

The 1994 election saw a greater shift from Senate Democrats than the 2006 shift from Republicans.

So, in 1995 as a member of the newly minority party, Sen. Tom Harkin could have exacted revenge by offering to filibuster Republicans at every turn. Instead, he pushed for reform.

Nearly 15 years ago, the Iowa senator first introduced legislation that would end the Senate rule of filibuster, or endlessly debating a bill until its ultimate demise. The bill ultimately failed to pass the Senate by a vote of 76-19.

Given what he sees as the abuse of power by a couple members of his own party whom he said are threatening to join the minority party if their every demand is not met, Harkin is considering reintroducing the legislation.

"I think, if anything, this health care debate is showing the dangers of unlimited filibuster," Harkin said Thursday during a conference call with reporters. "I think there's a reason for slowing things down ... and getting the public aware of what's happening and maybe even to change public sentiment, but not to just absolutely stop something."

Harkin noted with interest that his original legislation was cosponsored by Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., who has been threatening to filibuster the legislation. According to, a Web site that tracks how lawmakers vote on closing debate to avoid a filibuster, Harkin -- a member of the majority party now -- has voted to end debate 32 of 34 times, rather than filibuster. It said further he consistently votes to end filibusters.

"I did a lot of research on this back in the '90s, and it turned out the filibuster is just a Senate rule, not the Constitution or anything like that," Harkin said. "The reason, as best as I can ascertain it from historians that I talked to, Senate historians, was that it came into being when the Senate ... would meet and they would pass a bill before other senators could get there."

He said it became a rule that lawmakers could hold up the bill until more senators were there to vote on it and with enough time to make the public aware of the proposed legislation.

History lessons

The history turns out to be much trickier than that. Reports vary in when and how the filibuster began and when it was first used.

One thing is for sure, the word originates from the Dutch word for "pirate" and has come to mean the action in which a person takes control of the debate by endlessly talking in an effort to stall or kill the legislation.

The most famous example is probably in the realm of film where Jimmy Stewart took the role of a new senator dismayed by a piece of legislation and took to filibuster in Frank Capra's "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington." The longest real-life filibuster was by South Carolina Sen. Strom Thurmond who filibustered for more than 24 hours against the Civil Rights Act of 1957, according to the Senate's history Web site.

In the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, two constitutional scholars Martin Gold and Dimple Gupta said filibustering began when then-Vice President Aaron Burr did not see a need to call for an end to the debate, as holding it up was not something that was done in the "dignified Senate."

"The Senate followed this advice but failed to impose any other device by which debate might be restricted," the scholars wrote. "Thus, by sheer oversight in 1806, the Senate opened itself to the possibility of filibuster."

The scholars place the first filibuster in the 1830s, when senators wanted to censure then-President Andrew Jackson for withdrawing federal funds from the Bank of the United States.

Although not labeling it a "first," the Senate's history Web site first mentions a debate in 1841 where one senator was accused of trying to stop the "right to unlimited debate." The Senate Web site said the issue was a bank bill, though the newsmagazine Time said the first filibuster, which it also places in 1841, was over the firing of Senate printers.

The exact rules for ending debate have changed over the years, but now 60 votes are required to stop ongoing attempts to hold up legislation through filibuster.

A new proposal

Regardless of its origins, Harkin said the filibuster has outlived its usefulness.

"Today, in the age of instant news and Internet and rapid travel -- you can get from anywhere to here within a day or a few hours -- the initial reasons for the filibuster kind of fall by the wayside, and now it's got into an abusive situation," Harkin said.

He and the constitutional scholars agree that the intention was never to hold up legislation entirely.

To keep the spirit of slowing down legislation, though, Harkin's proposal back in 1995 would have kept the 60-vote rule for the first vote but lessening the number required in subsequent votes.

He said for instance if 60 senators could not agree to end debate, it would carry on for another week or so and then the number of votes required to end debate would drop by three. Harkin said it would carry on this way until it reached a simple majority of 51 votes.

"You could hold something up for maybe a month, but then, finally you'd come down to 51 votes and a majority would be able to pass," Harkin said. "I may revive that. I pushed it very hard at one time and then things kind of got a little better."… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <The Hawkeye>

I used to oppose ending the filibuster, but at that time, it had been used only as a foil to extreme positions appointees.  Never has a party used it to shut down the business of government entirely until now.  And now that the Genie is out of the bottle, I would expect that the Democrats would do the same thing, when and if the Repuglicans return to power.  Worse yet, they wouldn’t, and the only time government would become virtual non-functional would be under Democrats.  Therefore I have changed my position.  GOP abuse of the filibuster has made it obsolete.  I hope Harkin is serious, but fear that he’s only trying to intimidate the GOP Regime.  If this is just a sham, it won’t work.


One Fly said...

Yes we need seriousness!

Jack Jodell said...

I agree with Sen. Harkin that the filibuster has outlived its usefulness and is being abused. I further believe that the Senate as a body is in need of major reform. It has become a breeding ground for out of touch snobs and elitists, and that must change.

Joe LIEberman, it is clear, is wholly self-centered and loves media attention almost as much as AAD (Attention Addiction Disorder) Sarah Palin. The ONLY reason he is caucusing with the Democrats is because he wants the power and attention which stems from holding a committee chairmanship. His obstructionism, like that of his real party, the Republican Party, is a total waste of the country's time and also of taxpayer money.

I sincerely hope the voters of Connecticut will smarten up in 2012 and kick his ass out of the Senate out onto the street where it belongs. LIEberman's demonstrated unwillingness to vote according to his constituents' wishes is a documented fact. He is a parasite who belongs over at his beloved Aetna instead of the Senate. He should no longer be feeding off the public trough, as he is serving only himself and his insurance industry buddies, not the American people at large. GRRRRRRR!!!!!

Vigilante said...

Great post, Tom! OK if I put it on Facebook? Or is it already up there?

MadMike said...

I would love to see him kicked out of the party, but I don't know how that can be done given that he is an Independent. I would strip him of all of his party duties, however, and I suspect that is what you meant. He holds a powerful chair position and that needs to be gone. I read somewhere that he and Harry Reid were good buddies and that is why it is not happening.

TomCat said...

Amen, Fly!!

Jack, that's most well ranted!

Thanks Vig. I put it up just a little while ago. But fell free. You mak have people on your list that I do not.

Mike, that was a TPM error. Rhey should have said 'caucus' instead.

an average patriot said...

It's starting to seem like it may just be better for Dems to try to make a deal with Olympia Snowe, kick Joe Lieberman out of the party and be done with it.

That is what they should have done from the start. As he said, that Republican plant will deep six this. It has already been called a trillion dollar victory for the insurance companies.

Jolly Roger said...

LIEberman is representing the insurers, who have paid his nasty whore of a wife so handsomely over the years.

Jolly Roger said...

It is time for the reconciliation process. They don't have to have 60 votes, and everyone knows it. You can't help but think there must be some collusion from the Executive Branch in maintaining this fiction of "60 votes."

Leslie Parsley said...

The guy is absoutely senile, and like a child, he craves attention.

Tom, I think you have a terrific blog and will add it to mine. You have very ecclectic tastes, which I like. Oh yes, if I were a football fan, I'd be cheering for the Broncos.

Oso said...

Does the constitution provide a drawing and quartering procedure, or maybe a beheading process ?

Might be worth exploring.

Pauline said...

a pity we can't just get rid of them all and start over...

Marva said...

It's been clear for a long time that LIEberman should be tossed out of the Dem Caucus. If he's an independent, let him find an Independent Caucus to screw up.

I'd also like to see some of the Blue Dogs told that they can find a home elsewhere. No DNC money should go to any obstructionist blue dog. And they need to be told outright that the DNC will NOT support them if they continue their present path.

Leslie Parsley said...

Flying by and dropping this off wherever possible.

This is Lieberman's email address.

Tell him what you think. Post on your blog and in comments on other blogs. Ask others to do likewise. We may not have money but we can get numbers.

Dave Dubya said...

Ah, but the Dems are much too corporate friendly and right wing to filibuster the Republicans. I don't recall many cases where the Dems stopped Bush.

Holte Ender said...

Campaign finance reform would sort them all out, no private money for a run for re-election, we would see some different politicians in the Senate and they would start talking different too. The media would hate it, no billion dollar election season, so that's 2 strikes against it happening. But it would stop all of this corporate buddy, buddy like we are experiencing with Lieberman.

TRUTH 101 said...

Let LIEberman caucus with the republicans. Truth is, they can't stand McCain for his long winded, self righteous crap. Imagine LIEberman in there with him wearing everyone out. Especially that irritating phony voice. I'm sick of this clown. I'm getting close with Landreau, Nelson and what's her name from Nebraska also. We don't have 60 votes and never did. Time to show consequences for trying to get gredy and grab some pork or look like heroes to republicans at the expense of bills that would benefit all Americans.

Leslie Parsley said...

Correction on Lieberman (the string was too long:

Dusty said...

Ya know..we can piss and moan about Holy Joe all we want but the sad truth is:

The friggin White House and the Dem's need his worthless ass, although I can not see why they don't lean on him and yank his friggin chairmanship. The WH gave permission today for Reid and Company to kiss his fucking ass and most likely remove the medicare@55 amendment.

It's those fuckers we need to slap around..hard!

TRUTH 101 said...

We been slappin Dusty but our slaps our drowned out by the volume of big money bankers and insurance companies.

Dusty said...

I don't think so jackass. Do you know what happened to the last fuckwit that tried to slap me?

You don't wanna know. ;p

TomCat said...

Jim, tempting as that is, I son't see her being much easier.

JR, no doubt about LIEberman. The problem with reconciliation is that key reforms (preexisting conditions, dropping coverage, etc.) cannot be passed that way.

Thanks, Leslie and welcome. I've added you to the blog roll here as well and was well impreesse3d with your place. Thanks for the links too.

Oso, it does not. :'-(

Pauline, I'd love that.

Marva, I posted an article a while back that to get DNC support there should be a "purity test" and outlines some gasic tenets.

I agree Dave. We need publicly financed elections?

Holte, see my reply to Dave.

Turth, where we made our mistake is that single payer should have been the starting point in the negotiations?

Dusty, see my top article today.

Truth and Dusty... huh?