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Veto Points and the Bailout

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John Judis brings the appropriate level of outrage to the failure of the auto bailout. And I actually think Kevin Drum is being too charitable when he attributes Republican opposition to the bailout to “ideology.” This implies that there’s some “free market” principle at stake. As today’s news again reminds us, the GOP doesn’t seem terribly concerned about much more problematic things like the disgusting, virtually no-strings-attached re-re bailouts of Citigroup and AIG. Rather, Republican senators want to drive down wages for American autoworkers and create competitive advantages for their right-to-work states so much that they’re willing to inflict massive blows to the American economy to do so. (As Molly Ivors cracks, if there was some way of putting together a bailout that would pay executives and not workers, the bailout might have had a chance.)

It’s worth noting, however, the unique institutional features of the American system that permit an unrepresentative minority of one (already grossly malapportioned) house of Congress to block legislation supported by clear legislative majorities and the executive (and that doesn’t even arguably violate any constitutional norms.) As Rob says, it’s not entirely clear whether Josh Marshall opposes getting rid of the filibuster or just using certain means to get rid of the filibuster. If it’s the former, though, he’s dead wrong. Adding another supermajority requirement onto the already high-veto-point American system makes no sense, and while there will be isolated cases in which it serves liberal interests over the course of history is is extremely damaging to progressive social change, and in any case conservative majorities are also entitled to govern and be held accountable.

The bailout fiasco also serves as a reminder that the Democrats blundered severely by not forcing the GOP to use the “nuclear option” to break a filibuster of Alito. Creating a precedent that would inevitably led to the end of the filibuster was far more important than “keeping the powder dry” for…er, remind me, what did they save it for again?

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