May 25, 2005

Finally, a non-boring filibuster-related idea:

Finally, a non-boring filibuster-related idea: The fight over the Senate filibuster rules has been one of the dullest and most bogus in recent memory, with commentators on both sides shamelessly parroting arguments that they would scoff at if the partisan balance in the Senate were reversed.

However, Mickey Kaus says something interesting today in regard to the new compromise resolution:

Why, after all, are so many people in Washington attached to the Senate's "right to unlimited debate"? Is it because the filibuster--which effectively requires a supermajority to pass anything through the Senate-- guarantees "freedom of speech, freedom of debate and freedom to dissent in the United States Senate." (Sen. Byrd's modest version.) Or is it because the filibuster, and the exaggerated power it gives to both minorities and individuals, is the basis for much of the Senate's--indeed Washington's--corrupt cash economy? Without the filibuster, after all, senators in the minority party wouldn't be nearly as big a deal. They couldn't block legislation--so lobbyists wouldn't need to bribe them with campaign contributions. And honest, self-protective corporations wouldn't have to pay so many of these lobbyists to bribe them with campaign contributions.

Even most majority party senators would see some of their power drain away if the Senate became more like the House, organized efficiently along party lines so the majority could exercise its non-filibusterable power. Individual majority senators would be less like princes to be wined, dined and fawned over and more like party backbenchers. Corporations and interest groups wouldn't need to spend a lot of money bribing them either. And why would Boeing and GM want to pay for an army of ex-Senate aides to sweet-talk all 55 Republicans when one aide with the ear of Bill Frist would get the job done? ...

Still, I'm not sure it is so awful that there's more waste involved in influencing the Senate than there is in influencing the House, where all you need to do is pay off Tom DeLay.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

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