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The Filibuster Must Be Stopped

The country was never intended to have supermajority rule
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 21, 2009 8:17 AM CST
The Filibuster Must Be Stopped
In this photo provided by CBS, Sens. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., right, and Ben Nelson, D-Neb., left, appear on CBS's "Face the Nation" in Washington, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2009.   (AP Photo/CBS Face the Nation, Karin Cooper)

(Newser) – Health care reform shouldn’t have been a close vote. The Democrats campaigned on health care and won big, which “in any other advanced democracy” would have given them the power to enact reforms, writes Paul Krugman of the New York Times. But because Democrats needed 60 votes to thwart a filibuster—“a requirement that appears nowhere in the Constitution”—it was “a nail biter.” This bodes poorly for financial reform, climate change action, or long-term deficit reduction.

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This is a uniquely modern problem—threatened or actual filibusters affected only 8% of legislation in the 1960s; since Republicans became the minority in 2006, it’s been 70%. Bush avoided the problem by being a “buy now, pay later president,” who never asked Congress to pay for his tax cuts or war. But right now we need difficult legislation, and for that we need the Senate that the Constitution intended: “a body with majority—not supermajority—rule.” (Read more Paul Krugman stories.)

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