Our government does not work any more

There have been a number of fine articles and columns recently examining the increasingly dysfunctional U.S. Senate. (see also Eric Alterman’s really important essay for a look at how the executive branch is doing.)

Norm Orenstein of the American Enterprise Institute (that’s the thoughtful conservative think tank, unlike Heritage which is entirely ideological) has an op-ed today in Times. (Yes, I am still reading the editorial page.) It is definitely worth a read. From it:

“Filibusters aren’t just more numerous; they’re more mundane, too. Consider an earlier bill to extend unemployment benefits, passed in late 2009. It faced two filibusters — despite bipartisan backing and its eventual passage by a 98-0 margin. A bill that should have zipped through in a few days took four weeks, including seven days of floor debate. Or take the nomination of Judge Barbara Milano Keenan to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit: she, too, faced a filibuster, even though she was later confirmed 99 to 0.”

This is quite remarkable. And entirely irrational.

Now, it is on to A Face in The Crowd. And by the way, Beck’s DC side show has every movement person of color on the stage. None in the audience of course cuz all two dozen of them are on the stage. An Indian too. Also I thought I saw a Pakistani.

16 responses to “Our government does not work any more

  1. I don’t know if this post makes me feel better or worse. Here in my state, it’s the same. Our legislature gave us a state horse and a state drink (milk) but failed to pass a jobs bill. And the bickering…


    • I worry a lot about this sort of thing and I think we should all worry to an extent. Wish though, that I could hit the garden like you seem to enjoy doing and rid my mind of worrying about things over which I’m pretty powerless, but I’m all black thumb all the time and so there’s time to indulge my newsjunkiness and obsess.


  2. Ms. Holland,

    If I was really good, I would save all of the arguments against filibusters and replay them one day when Democrats are once again the minority party. But, I’m not that good and you Liberals will just ignore them anyway.


  3. It almost seems like a cancer Moe. People work assiduously hard to block and obstruct legislation, and then complain and decry how woefully inefficient “big” government is. A similar argument is employed when people cannot access state services reasonably, but the state is denied access to funding aka Taxes to provide said services. Once again, the state is vilified for being inefficient and not providing necessary services.

    It is an ugly little pattern, to say the least.


    • It’s an ugly pattern that’s been set into the national psyche by a rather small group of amoral people whose allegiance is to their own wealth. That is to be expected in the human animal, but what societies are supposed to do is put covenants in place to contain those impulses. We did – for a long time. But then the 1980’s happened and deregulation began. Clinton was as bad as Reagan. Gore would have been better than Bush. Obama is surrounded by Goldman Sachs (although I still have hope!).

      And meanwhile, our congress critters are wholly owned and are so busy raising money they have little time to do the people’s business.

      I weep for the future.


  4. Ms. Holland, The Arbourist,

    You two really have selected outrage. When right wingers try to block left wing fantasies from destroying America that is blocking and obstructing. When Hippiecrats blocked Bush’s overhaul of Social Security, that was dissent. That was ‘Patriotic’. Thanks to your side SS and Medicare will go bankrupt long before they would have.

    Wait, wait, I know we’ll just raise tobacco and oil taxes. Yea that’ll solve SS. So the younger generation will have long term unemployment. So businesses will fail. So the young will have a low standard of living paying for rich liberals who in old age will never die.

    I know what I am talking about. The generation on SS right now lives pretty damn good at the expense of the working young. They will use their power with the Democrats to hang on to their checks. They do not care about the long term. As long as the ponzi scheme lasts until they die, screw their kids and grand kids.

    You watch, when the proverbial manure hits the fan as SS becomes insolvent and Responsible Republicans try in vain to save it, ” your ” party will use the filibuster and every other trick to obstruct them . And you will praise them as you praised Charlie Wrangle for being such skillful politicians. Like all of those skillful tricks, (payoffs) Obama used to get his health care boondoggle.


    • Alan – I really think you want to leave off Social Security and Medicare when you’re explaining how awful the Dems are. Since Dems brought us SS and Medicare and the GOP has been fighting to kill them ever since. A very odd choice on your part.

      BTW, Bush’s ‘plan’ was to move the SS funds into the stock market. Given that millions lost their private retirement savings in the stock market . . . thank god their SS was safe because it WASN’T in the stock market.

      And ‘fixing’ SS is very doable. Raise the cap from $87,ooo to maybe $120,000 and raise the retirement age incrememntally, six months at a time, to about 68. Fixed.


  5. Also I thought I saw a Pakistani.

    Or “Paki,” >a href=”http://www.commondreams.org/headlines02/0108-03.htm”>Republicans call them.

    I know what I am talking about.

    Interestingly, like “I don’t mean to pry,” or “with all due respect,” this phrase is almost always untrue.


  6. desertscope,

    ” I know what I am talking about. ”

    “Interestingly, like “I don’t mean to pry,” or “with all due respect,” this phrase is almost always untrue.”

    Yea,,,, I know what you mean. Like “Let me be clear “. Obama’s most oft repeated word grouping.


  7. Ms. Holland,

    ” thank god their SS was safe because it WASN’T in the stock market. ”

    I doubt very much that you know the details of what actually happened. I was arguing with liberals on a Philadelphia board during the time Democrats killed reform with their lies. Another time, another board, I will instruct you. For now I only point out that only a 🙂 believes SS is safe in the hands of politicians. All of your arguments and more I heard in 01.


    • Um, social security has been humming along – with adjustments – for 75 years. The politicians have managed it quite well. It’s time for more adjustments but the Repubs continue – as they always have – to try to kill it.


  8. Ms. Holland,

    I won’t bore you with facts, but you just might bother to look up the actuarial studies on SS and Medicare. They make the deficits that Bush ran up with his wars and that Obama has run up with his Patronage Stimulus fiasco seem like beer money at an Obama friendship summit.


    • I don’t disagree Alan – SS and Medicare are not sustainable as they are and we need to make adjustments. No argument there.

      But we do not need to kill them to fix them.


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