Thursday, December 8, 2016

Payback Is Not Always A Good Thing

Not for adults leading our country......
At least not when it comes to running a constitutional democratic republic, it is not a 'good thing'.

It might 'feel good' for the moment and provide a temporary sense of happiness at 'turnabout being fair play' and all that. But this is not a child's game our elected leaders are playing; it is running the greatest elective representative democracy the world has ever known.

We should run it the right way.

The US Senate, under the control of Democrats and under the leadership of now-retiring Harry Reid of Nevada, changed the rules of the US Senate on 11/22/2013 to allow a simple majority vote on all presidential nominations except for Supreme Court nominations.

It passed 52-48. Democrats held 53 seats at the time and 2 Independents, including Bernie Sanders, typically caucused and voted with the Democrat majority. 3 Democrat Senators voted against the motion.

'So what?' you might say. 'The Republicans were just stonewalling against anything and everything President Obama was doing ever since he got elected in 2008! Harry Reid had to do this to get something done for the nation!'

Here's the 'so-what': Now that President-Elect Trump has a majority of Republicans in the US Senate, he could get Yogi Bear and Boo-Boo confirmed to serve in any presidential appointee capacity he wanted if the Senate continues to adhere to the so-called 'nuclear option' precedent set forth by Senator Reid.

We hope Senate Republicans will vote to restore Senate rules back to the threshold of 60 immediately upon being sworn-in in early January 2017. In fact, we don't mind if the Senate returns to the concept of 'unanimous consent' and abolishes the 60-vote threshold altogether and returns to the days when 1 US Senator could stage a filibuster like Jimmy Stewart did in 'Mr. Smith Goes To Washington' and shut down proceedings for days.

Here's why:

  1. Restore Integrity To The Process of Governing

    We like to think of our former brethren in the Republican Party as at least being 'rule-followers' much as we admire professional golfers on the PGA Tour who routinely call penalties on themselves in order to 'protect the integrity of the game of golf'. Period.

    We love it when a professional golfer calls a penalty on himself.  Cameron Tringale called a penalty on himself in the 2014 PGA golf championship and essentially disqualified himself from contention and forfeited at least $53,000 with his confession. For a violation that no one else ever saw.

    The US Senate must never be allowed to operate like the US House of Representatives where simple majorities rule the day. We lived through a decade of being in political purgatory from 1985-1995 working in the minority party of the US House by close to 85 seats (votes) every session.

    That was not fun. In the least little bit.

    However, every day we went into work, we knew that the rights of the minority party in the US House, us Republicans, were going to be protected in the US Senate whether the GOP was in the majority or the minority over there.

    Why? Because any legislation that we thought was terrible was going to have to run the gauntlet of Senate rules over there where 60 US Senators were going to have to vote to at least allow debate on the floor of the Senate or else it would be bottled up on the Senate side, never to see the light of day.

    Protection of minority party rights in our democratic republic is critical to the long-term health of not only each party but the nation as well. You do NOT want to live in a representative democracy where any majority can run roughshod over the wishes and rights of the minority party.

    That is just plain and simple un-American.

  2. Re-Establishing the 60-vote threshold forces comity and compromise

    If the Republicans in the US Senate maintain the simple majority rule status set forth by Senator Harry Reid on presidential appointments, it will not be long before the siren call of 'payback' or revenge sets in and they change the rules of the US Senate to be a simple majority on EVERY piece of legislation.

    That will be the day the US constitutional form of government stops being as unique and as special as we all like to believe it is. Because it really is a uniquely crafted government carved out of the brains of some of the smartest people we have ever seen in this country or around the globe.

    Having a simple majority in the US House of Representatives insures that the will of the people gets expressed every two years at the election booth. Doing the same thing in the US Senate reduces the US Senate to just another cauldron of emotion where prevailing public sentiment can be not only expressed but passed into legislation, assuming a President is unwilling to veto bills passed by his own party.

    Having at least a 60-vote threshold to consider debate on the floor of what once was called 'The World's Greatest Deliberative Body' (but sadly is no longer) at least provides a place where reasoned debate can occur to 'cool' inflamed public sentiment on any particular issue and come up with alternatives and compromises that might amend the original bill into something that actually works and stays in force for awhile.

    Going back to the original filibuster threshold of 100 would only accelerate and intensify the process of compromise and reconciliation between the 2 parties. NO ONE would get anything done that they want if they consistently stand in the way of 99 other Senators getting at least a debate on their pet issues and causes.

    When there is 'Mutually Assured Destruction' (MAD) amidst 100 US Senators, a lot of things would get done pretty fast you gotta believe.
Not following the simple majority Senate rules for presidential nominees as put forth by Harry Reid in 2013 may sound like a retreat for any conservative Senator who endured and suffered through the years of Senator Reid who might have been as ruthless of a Senate Leader there ever was. There certainly will be no glowing biographies of the days of Harry Reid as there have been about Henry Clay or any other Senate Majority Leader in our nation's history.

But it would be the right thing to do for our nation and our constitutional government. Just because a person or a political party does something really dumb like lead a bunch of lemmings off a cliff into the raging ocean below does not mean everyone else who follows should be equally as ethically and intellectually-challenged, does it?

Resisting the temptation to continue the wrong policy set forth by Senator Reid would show the nation that the Republicans are indeed the 'adults in the room' and ready to lead again.


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3 comments:

  1. You are correct, Mr. Hill. It would be great, and right, and righteous. It will not happen. Statesmanship is dead, and will never again be resuscitated.

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  2. I came across a 2010 post of yours (http://pundithouse.com/2010/07/redeeming-social-security/ )while searching BING under the term "redeeming trust fund bonds."
    Among the less relevant results with .gov extensions was your article which is the first and only I've seen that explicitly deals with funding the Social Security fund deficit.
    I think you can offer perspective into the Washington modalities which act as a screen, preventing full actuarial accountability. Obviously the intent of the Establishment is to delay and obfuscate. Even those with a knowledge of accounting have a hard time identifying future tax and spending patterns when couched in the alternate reality of Washington-think.
    Could you interpret for us? I'm sure President-elect Trump is looking for people to navigate this morass.
    Congress in all its wisdom throws money at the problem, and it's obvious that the deficits, particularly for Medicare and Medicaid, are growing. Right now the moneys are coming out of social security which is experiencing a budget surplus.
    But even the more recent reports (post tax change; https://www.ssa.gov/OACT/TRSUM/index.html) state that future deficits will be paid through the sale of assets held in the Trust Fund. As you've explained, those assets don't really exist in marketable liquid form, and thus gloss over the problem of where the money will come from.
    For now, these assets amount to over $2 trillion, but if they can't be sold, like you say in your 2012 post, who will buy them? The Chinese were massive sellers of Treasuries, selling over $400 billion in the last year, I believe.
    Thanks for the wisdom you share, and your past work on this subject is more relevant than ever.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The shell-game here is that any 'redemption' of those trust funds (sic) have to come from tax revenues.

      So just consider these trust funds to be future tax hikes that have to be passed, or SS will just have to whack the payments to then-existing retirees anywhere from 25-33%.

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