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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Do the math

If elections were decided in the same way as votes in the United States Senate, Scott Brown would still be on Beacon Hill and Paul Kirk would not be back on the Cape.

Keep that thought in mind as you cheer Brown for his cloture vote on the Senate jobs bill and as you put into context his warning about Democrats using the "nuclear option" in offering a new health care bill that would rely on the reconciliation process to squeak through the Senate.

Brown polled 52 percent of Massachusetts voters in defeating Matha Coakley last month, collecting 1.1 million votes, about 100,000 more than Martha Coakley. If we needed a 60 percent majority to elect a person, we would be gridlocked, much like the Senate is virtually every day.

Both parties have played the Senate rules to their advantage. Republicans have insisted on supermajorities -- up until a jobs bill -- as a measure of party unity. Let's recall the GOP opposed an Obama proposal for a bipartisan commission to deal with the debt problem -- an idea they first proposed.

What's lost in all the heat and noise over Brown's win is Democrats still hold a 59-41 advantage over Republicans in the Senate. And unlike their counterparts, Democrats don't know how to march in lockstep, offering a broader diversity of political beliefs. (That they may also be genetically incapable of getting their act together is another matter!)

With some belated prodding from Barack Obama, Democrats have finally been doing some math of their own. Senate rules allow for a simple majority -- 50 percent plus one -- on any bill that carries financial implications.

Fifty percent-plus one -- the concept of majority rules everywhere else in the world, from student council races to corporate boards except the United States Senate.

By unveiling a new version of a bill days before a televised health care summit, Obama is indeed forcing Republicans to come up with something other than saying "no" or "let's start over" -- a position they have taken for roughly 100 years (ironically opposing a Progressive who left the Republican Party).

Is Obama playing politics? Yes. Has the GOP put politics first since Jan, 20, 2009? Yes.

If Brown thinks this is a "nuclear option" he's been reading too many of his press clippings. This is what legislating and democracy is all about. Using parliamentary maneuvers to gain the advantage

It's called doing the math and Democrats now simple need to corral 51 of their own members, an only slightly easier task than reaching 60. That'a what happens when Barack Obama beat Jon McCain by slightly less than 10 million votes.

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Blogger Peter Porcupine said...

What on earth makes you think that ANYONE would vote for Paul Kirk?

If he ever had to WIN an election, he'd never have left the Cape in the first place.

February 26, 2010 1:02 PM  
Blogger Outraged Liberal said...

Can't I have some poetic license? :-) Besides I was suggesting that a 60 percent majority might have required a run-off, leaving the accidental senator in place until someone could crack that barrier.

February 27, 2010 6:27 AM  

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