Sunday, January 24, 2010

From Super-Majority to Majority: Any Difference?

An article in today's Washington Post (here) makes the following assertion:
Republican Scott Brown's victory in the Massachusetts special election on Tuesday cost the Democrats' their filibuster-proof Senate majority.
But what has really changed? Even before Scott Brown's victory in Massachusetts last week, the Democrats did not have a "'filibuster-proof Senate majority" because the Democrats, unlike the Republicans, are not a party that walks in lock-step. It wasn't the threat of a Republican filibuster that gave Harry Reid headaches on health care reform but threats from Democratic Ben Nelson and Independent (but captive of the Connecticut insurance industry) Joe Lieberman. Indeed, Ben Nelson has threatened a filibuster against any bill coming out of conference does not tighten restrictions against federal funding of abortions (see here).

The Republicans, despite the supposed fault lines between the intellectual neo-cons and the anti-intellectual theocrats, seem better able than the Democrats to enforce party discipline. Perhaps not much has changed since Will Rogers quipped, "I am not a member of any organized party - I am a Democrat."

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