Why Are 64 Senators Writing a Letter, Not Laws?

'Odd' missive asks for help supermajority doesn't need: Ezra Klein
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 21, 2011 9:38 AM CDT
Ezra Klein: Why Are 64 Senators Writing a Letter to President Obama, Not Laws?
President Barack Obama speaks at the Theatro Municipal in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, March 20, 2011.   (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

There’s something strange about the letter 64 senators have written to Barack Obama, requesting that he support comprehensive debt reduction. The language itself is standard enough, writes Ezra Klein in the Washington Post—but why did a powerful bloc of senators write it, rather than the legislation they claim to want? The lawmakers "manage to sound like an interest group begging the White House for support rather than a supermajority of the United States Senate," Klein notes.

They’re calling for "a strong signal of support" from the president. But if they themselves "wanted to write and vote for a bill, that’d be a pretty 'strong signal,'" Klein writes. "For 64 senators to instead write letters about how someone else should be making affirmative noises about deficit reduction, well, read closely, that’s a signal of a very different kind." Sure, Obama could try to rally public support for it, but he can neither write nor pass the bill through Congress. "On this issue, the empowered actor is the legislative branch, not the executive branch. And the legislative branch should begin acting like it." (More President Obama stories.)

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