Wednesday, December 15, 2010

If It’s Broke…

Rachel Maddow last night on the broken Senate (see below) and what it’s costing us not just in terms of getting things done but in terms of how our country works.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


I’m not sure that there’s ever going to be any reform in the way things work on Capitol Hill. I know people who work there on both sides of the aisle and the one thing they agree on is that yes, the process sucks but neither side is willing to make the changes to get it to work as intended because if they do, they would have to give up something and, more importantly, they don’t trust the other side to act in good faith when they achieve the majority. In other words, they are sure that all of the checks and balances that one side advocates for, i.e. the protection of the minority, an end to the secret holds and the arcane rules of procedure, would be used against them when they’re not in power.

We saw this played to a fare-thee-well last winter during the healthcare debate. The Republicans carried on about how the bill was “rammed down their throats,” just like the stimulus bill and the bank bailouts, conveniently forgetting that all of the bills passed through the legislative process without any slight of hand. Indeed, those of us who wanted the bills to pass were frustrated at the tortuous and tortoise-like process. This is in stark contrast to the GOP’s thrill of getting the Bush tax cuts and agenda swept through both Houses back in 2002 while at the same time darkly threatening to invoke the dreaded nuclear option, something the Democrats never even brought up last winter.

There will be a lot of talk about reforming the rules of the Senate and changing the filibuster rules to allow debate to go forward and putting an end to secret holds. That’s all it will be, though. Every election cycle brings in new faces and tyro staffers who are determined to shake up Washington and change the way it does business. And then they get in office, they get invited to dinner with a few lobbyists, and two years later, someone else is running against them because they’re part of the problem.

And so it goes.