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Paul Krugman’s Filibuster Fear-Mongering

The latest in a long line of attacks on the filibuster comes from Paul Krugman of the New York Times.  Krugman, better known professor of Economics and International Affairs at Princeton University and Captain of the Obama Administration Cheerleading Squad, wrote a column arguing that the filibuster is destroying America.  Krugman argued that filibustering Republicans, not international terrorists, not a nuclear weapon seeking Iran, not North Korea, not another economic meltdown on Wall Street, and not the $12.3 trillion dollar national debt, will lead to America being lost.  This fear-mongering by Krugman is the latest attempt to convince liberals in the Senate to abolish the filibuster with a simple majority vote.  From Krugman in the NYT.

We’ve always known that America’s reign as the world’s greatest nation would eventually end. But most of us imagined that our downfall, when it came, would be something grand and tragic.  What we’re getting instead is less a tragedy than a deadly farce. Instead of fraying under the strain of imperial overstretch, we’re paralyzed by procedure. Instead of re-enacting the decline and fall of Rome, we’re re-enacting the dissolution of 18th-century Poland.

Although I deeply respect the intellect of this Nobel Prize winning Economist, I disagree with his analysis.  He is clearly way outside of his area of expertise when talking about Senate procedure, because his analysis is laughable.  Krugman argues that filibustering Republicans are going to be the cause of the dissolution of the republic.  Krugman’s evidence?

Today, by contrast, the Republican leaders refuse to offer any specific proposals. They inveigh against the deficit — and last month their senators voted in lockstep against any increase in the federal debt limit, a move that would have precipitated another government shutdown if Democrats hadn’t had 60 votes.

So Krugman seems to argue that because Republicans were against a $1.9 trillion debt limit increase, Republicans are a danger to constitutional democracy.  In December of last year, the Republicans and Democrats negotiated an agreement for a debt limit increase to get us into February.  Democrats needed the consent of Republicans and moderate Democrats and they did something that they have been unwilling to do most of last year, they negotiated with the other party.  Krugman also is mad that Republicans don’t offer specific enough proposals.  That does not seem like a compelling case that the only way to save America is to change the Senate’s rules through strong arm tactics. 

It is clear to most who follow Congress closely that a smaller debt limit increase would have passed if the Senate could not muster 60 votes to pass the massive $1.9 trillion increase that eventually passed the Senate and House.  Krugman provides no evidence of any piece of legislation or nomination that Republicans blocked to establish that the filibuster is a clear and present danger to destroy the government.  He merely asserts that the our republic is in danger if we don’t terminate the rules that protect extended debate and allow the minority party to participate in the legislative process in the Senate.

More Krugman fear-mongering:

The truth is that given the state of American politics, the way the Senate works is no longer consistent with a functioning government. Senators themselves should recognize this fact and push through changes in those rules, including eliminating or at least limiting the filibuster. This is something they could and should do, by majority vote, on the first day of the next Senate session.

There is nothing wrong with Senators being against a debt limit increase, because they want to decrease spending.   Conservative Senators may be compromising too much on spending and may need to use the filibuster even more to attack the $12.3 trillion debt that this generation is passing on to future generations.  ObamaCare can’t pass right now, because the American people hate the bill and have pressured just enough Members of Congress to stall the legislation.  The House that operates on majority rule, can’t pass the Senate passed ObamaCare bill right now.  Krugman can’t blame that situation on the filibuster.  Ironically, a minority of Senators is protecting the majority of the American people’s views on ObamaCare

The Obama Administration has only been denied one significant piece of legislation, in part, because of a filibuster in the Senate.  Debt limit increases passed twice.  The Krugman supported $787 billion so called Stimulus passed.  The Cash for Clunkers Keynesian dream bill passed.  Obama passed his Budget last year.  He passed a 2009 omnibus spending bill.  Liberals have a hard time pointing to bills, other than the wildly unpopular ObamaCare bill, that has been a victim of the filibuster.  Krugman’s assertions are unsupported by the evidence and not at all reasonable.  Of all the attacks on the filibuster, this Krugman attempt at fear-mongering should convince no one that the filibuster rule should be changed at all.

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