Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Yes the Senate is broken (but not in the way you might think)

We are now awash in pleas to "fix the broken Senate", with particular emphasis on getting rid of the filibuster. 

Now, I know that the fair filly is not in the Constitution, but I think the Senate and its vaunted unlimited debate is filling a role the founders wanted, namely slowing down the popular passions of the people's House! Thus I don't view Senatorial delaying and navel gazing as a big problem.

I do think the Senate (and House) is badly broken though, as evidenced by their inability to even bring sensible legislation to the floor in times of dire emergencies.

The stimulus bill was what, about 1/3 weird and unseemly earmarks?

The health care crisis is at least as much about controlling costs as it is about increasing the number of people insured and the bills in each chamber utterly failed to seriously address cost control.

Congress people often use Federal Agencies and SOEs as their own personal experimental laboratories leaving us with the bill when the experiment blows up (Barney F. and Fannie/Freddie).

Congress is broken because it has acquired more power than mere mortals can handle.

I really don't know how we are going to fix that, but by all means, let's not pretend that changing some rules of procedure will fix the problems in our broken legislative branch.



Unknown said...

Article 1, section 5: Each House may determine the rules of its proceedings---does this not make the filibuster constitutional?

Angus said...

sure, I didn't at all mean to imply that it's unconstitutional, just that it was explicitly written into the constitution.