It's already formally normalized
Kevin Drum tries to figure out how to communicate that this merged shutdown/debt ceiling crisis in not just politics as usual. And he's right that what's going on is nutty. But it's worth noting that what's happening here is nutty because of 40 nuts in the House. So the real question is how 40 Congresspeople can bring down the government and the economy. Because the difficulty in explaining why this is something extraordinary stems from the fact that we act like we're following a normal process. Obama won't "negotiate" with Congress. Never mind that it's really just some random quacks in the House. There is a majority in the House that would vote for a clean continuing resolution and a debt ceiling increase. Also in the Senate. But the optics on this works in the favor of those quacks. "Obama won't negotiate." And the press buys it.
So how did these random quacks wind up getting so much power? The answer is due to a corruption in the way Congress works. The first relevant bit is the so-called Hastert Rule, which isn't a real thing, but it's a bureaucratic piece of nonsense that says that a majority of the majority party has to vote to bring a bill to vote. It's similar to the equally not real 60 vote requirement to bring a bill to a vote in the Senate. Both of these are extra-constitutional and could be easily discarded. But we've come to talk about them like they are real things that have always existed. And so it's normal that a fringe minority can prevent a vote from happening. Every "objective" article talks about a 60 vote requirement in the Senate and a "majority of the majority" vote in the House as if they were in the Constitution.
The second relevant bit is this odd de-coupling of funding from the laws that require money. You vote for a bill, it gets approved, and then you have this separate process to allow us to pay for the things in the bill. If that sounds crazy, it's because it is. And they found a solution to this problem back in 1979 but Newt Gingrich and the Republicans undid it in 1995 ("Gingrich abolished the Gephardt Rule, and within the year the government had shut down."). And since then it's just been another thing that we've come to accept even though it's completely insane.
My point here is we need to be against this stuff before it starts causing these major problems. We should continue to be fighting for filibuster reform in the Senate even though it's not immediately relevant since Republicans took back the House. We should be looking hard at gerrymandering and voter rights push-back (the latest is this crazy two-tiered scheme in Kansas and Arizona, where if you don't have the right papers you can vote in some elections but not others), we should have been challenging the Hastert rule years ago, etc.. And by "we" i really mean the Democratic leaders and strategists, who've meekly accepted all this stuff, passed on multiple occasions to deal with the filibuster, etc.. Because when your president has to go on television to try to explain why it's ok for him to not negotiate, it's already too late.
By fnord12 | October 9, 2013, 12:56 PM | Liberal Outrage
Reference from SuperMegaMonkeyFinal vote on the clean CR and debt limit raise was 81-18 in the Senate and 285-144 in the House. So how did we come to nearly catastrophic failure with those levels of support? The answer is that our government... Read More: Rump Rules