Friday, June 22, 2018

70 votes is an absurd threshold

It isn't the sole reason for the "extreme deadlock" but a 2/3 majority is a ridiculous hurdle just to pass a bill.
Morrell and Alario's resolution might have an advantage over tax bills that have stalled in the House. The senators think it only takes a majority of lawmakers -- at most 53 members of the House -- to approve. Tax bills need two-thirds majorities, which come to 70 votes in the House. But it's unclear whether the House will agree with the Senate that the vote threshold is lower for this measure.
Alario and Morrell think they might have a workaround for that.  See the rest of that article for that.  Anything they can think of is worth a try.

But the problem here is systemic. The 2/3 rule is a deliberately anti-democratic impediment to progress. The fact that it is a primary obstacle to averting the fiscal crisis in Louisiana is no accident.  Even the House has demonstrated that votes to raise the necessary revenue exist if such a measure required a simple majority. But the 2/3 rule allows a minority of Republican hardliners to obstruct those efforts.

It's also important to note the anti-democracy reflex in American politics is deeply rooted in the tradition of elite white supremacy. We've talked about James Buchanan a few times this year. He plays a pivotal role in maintaining that tradition.
Over time, Buchanan and his allies tacitly admitted that they had no popular constituency; that the voting public — even those who had supported Reagan and cheered the congressional “Contract with America” — hesitated “when they learned that freed markets would leave them with sole responsibility for their fates.” The solution, first floated in the early debates over Social Security privatization and starkly evident in tortuous repeal of the Affordable Care Act, is to “crab-walk” around the issues, to claim that frontal assaults on popular social insurance programs are efforts to “shore them up” rather than destroy them.

The second, and more chilling, solution is to junk the rules entirely; to tilt an already unlevel playing field decisively and irrevocably against the popular will.

The American political system is already strewn with veto points and eagerly attentive to the demands and resources of the wealthy. But, for the Right, holding sway in “the least responsive of all the leading democracies to what the people want and need” is not enough; the goal is to make it “all but impossible for government to respond to the will of the majority unless the very wealthiest Americans agree full with every measure.” Calhoun would be proud.
Buchanan and his associates advised the framers of Pinochet's Chilean junta to design a “constitution of locks and bolts,” that required super-majorities for any action undertaken by a representative body.  Presently the Louisiana House finds itself bound by similar restraints.  If Alario and Morrell can figure a way to pick the lock, they ought to try to do that.

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