Risk adverse

Ezra Klein on the Senate’s failure to change filibuster rules:

So why did Senate Democrats agree, in principle, that simple majorities can’t change the Senate’s rules, and even exceedingly modest changes to the filibuster are out-of-bounds? Easy: They’re a simple majority now, but someday soon, they’ll be a simple minority. When that happens, they want to be able to mount constant filibusters as well.

To borrow David Brooks’s schtick for a minute, there’s an easy behavioral explanation for this preference: Loss aversion. Study after study shows that human beings fear the consequences of loss much more than they value the benefits of gains. And so too in the Senate, where the two parties think about the rules in terms of “what happens when I lose” rather than “what happens when I win?”

But if you really think you’ve got a great agenda and that the voters would agree, that would imply a fantastic upside to rules that allow you to make good on your campaign promises: Either the American people would get to judge you on all the great stuff you want to do, as opposed to all the great stuff you got stopped from doing, or they’d get to judge the other party on all the awful stuff they did, and which you could then reverse with a simple majority vote. That’s a coherent theory of the way accountability encourages good ideas and wise governance in American politics. A world in which you can’t enact your ideas or govern effectively and so the voters end up thinking you as feckless as the folks across the aisle isn’t. That’s a world in which the rules of the Senate, and not the policies of the parties, drive outcomes, and thus drive elections. That’s a world where voters never know whose ideas are best because neither side can ever enact their agendas. But that’s the world the Senate apparently prefers to inhabit.

3 thoughts on “Risk adverse

  1. >>they’ll be a simple minority. When that happens, they want to be able to mount constant filibusters as well.

    When Democrats were the simple minority, they got bullied into not using the filibuster, or it would be “nuked”. The only party that gets to use the filibuster is the Republican Party. That gives rule over the entire country to the Republicans, whether they win or lose.

    And I thought this was supposed to be a democracy.

    Carolyn Kay

  2. what carolyn said: the idea that the democrats will “want to be able to mount constant filibusters as well” is a joke, and a sad one. When they were in the minority, it was all “yes sir, may I have another”. And god forbid a democrat actually TRY to filibuster: look at how Reid totally fucked Dodd.

    It’s a joke. The Democrats like it this way. They get to have >$100K salary, perks up the yin yang, and all they have to do is do nothing.

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