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U.S. Politics: Phantom of the Emergency

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8 hours ago, IheartIheartTesla said:

Why even let the House propose and pass bills if they could be held up at any time by the Senate? It just seems so inefficient to me.

A bicameral system in which both legislative assemblies have real power is necessarily inefficient and ours (deliberately) has an extra wrinkle in that the chief executive can veto a compromise which has a slim majority of support in both chambers. That said, I don't think the people who designed the system foresaw its current incarnation.

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7 minutes ago, Altherion said:

A bicameral system in which both legislative assemblies have real power is necessarily inefficient and ours (deliberately) has an extra wrinkle in that the chief executive can veto a compromise which has a slim majority of support in both chambers. That said, I don't think the people who designed the system foresaw its current incarnation.

Jefferson, Madison, et al. should've made changes as soon as it was apparent that political parties were going to be a thing. They wanted slow action, but not no action; yet having the executive elected entirely independently from the legislature is a recipe for no action if there are political parties that can organize the legislature to reflexively block the executive (and having an executive reflexively block the legislature).

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1 hour ago, Fez said:

Jefferson, Madison, et al. should've made changes as soon as it was apparent that political parties were going to be a thing.

To be fair, Jefferson thought each generation should establish their own constitution.  Of course, he had nothing to do with the actual writing of the constitution.  But sure, you can say in hindsight Madison and Hamilton should have realized they were going to found competing parties.  Their conflicting conceptions of government is apparent even when they were working together for ratification in writing the Federalist Papers.  Still, it's not like they had much party system theory to inform them at the time.

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40 minutes ago, Fez said:

Jefferson, Madison, et al. should've made changes as soon as it was apparent that political parties were going to be a thing. They wanted slow action, but not no action; yet having the executive elected entirely independently from the legislature is a recipe for no action if there are political parties that can organize the legislature to reflexively block the executive (and having an executive reflexively block the legislature).

I suspect they'd be fine with no action when there is no consensus, but they didn't plan for the federal government growing into by far the largest single organization on the planet by revenue (except perhaps to avoid this) and they didn't plan for legislators and executives that would be willing to use this funding as a bargaining chip and use it beyond bluffing. As far as I can tell, the latter was not done until 1976 (i.e. nearly two centuries after Jefferson, Madison et al). Realistically, no human being or group thereof can possibly predict or plan for events that far removed from them (good luck doing it for half a century from now, let alone two centuries).

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42 minutes ago, Altherion said:

I suspect they'd be fine with no action when there is no consensus, but they didn't plan for the federal government growing into by far the largest single organization on the planet by revenue (except perhaps to avoid this) and they didn't plan for legislators and executives that would be willing to use this funding as a bargaining chip and use it beyond bluffing. As far as I can tell, the latter was not done until 1976 (i.e. nearly two centuries after Jefferson, Madison et al). Realistically, no human being or group thereof can possibly predict or plan for events that far removed from them (good luck doing it for half a century from now, let alone two centuries).

We actually have an excellent example of the limits of their imagination and vision regarding the future of the united states in the only un-ratified amendment of the bill of rights, the congressional apportionment amendment:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congressional_Apportionment_Amendment

The limits of their imagination and vision was that the country could never become so large that representatives would represent MORE than 50,000 people per representative.

currently representatives represent over 700,000 people per representative (a piece of legislative laziness over the last 107 years that made Trump's win a lot easier).

So yeah, they couldn't imagine very far in terms of how the country would grow and evolve.

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The Invisible Primary continues to claim heads, Tom Steyer is officially not running as well.

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14 minutes ago, lokisnow said:

The limits of their imagination and vision was that the country could never become so large that representatives would represent MORE than 50,000 people per representative.

This wasn't due to the limits of their imagination or vision; it was a matter of priorities. The faction proposing that amendment wanted to avoid the scenario where there is nearly a million people per representative because they (correctly!) surmised that when this happens, the representatives will often not be all that representative of the population they're supposed to represent. :) The counterpoint (and part of the reason we don't have such an amendment) is that once the country grows enough, it would mean a membership of the House numbering in the thousands which would make it too unwieldy.

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I was just watching The Daily Show and the found a a video from 2004 of Trump giving a commencement speech.

This is beyond The Onion parody territory except that it's completely real, it's just...holy shit.

 

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9 hours ago, Altherion said:

I suspect they'd be fine with no action when there is no consensus, but they didn't plan for the federal government growing into by far the largest single organization on the planet by revenue (except perhaps to avoid this) and they didn't plan for legislators and executives that would be willing to use this funding as a bargaining chip and use it beyond bluffing. As far as I can tell, the latter was not done until 1976 (i.e. nearly two centuries after Jefferson, Madison et al). Realistically, no human being or group thereof can possibly predict or plan for events that far removed from them (good luck doing it for half a century from now, let alone two centuries).

It's not just shutdowns though, there was enormous gridlock almost immediately, mostly, though not entirely, around the slavery issue. Having a different system probably wouldn't have peacefully resolved the issues, but maybe it could've been dealt with faster rather than having another 70 years of misery before the civil war started.

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Kamala Harris to Launch White House Run in Oakland on MLK Day: Report

https://www.thedailybeast.com/kamala-harris-has-decided-to-run-for-president-says-report?ref=home

Quote

Sen. Kamala Harris has decided to run for president in 2020 and is expected to announce her candidacy on or around Martin Luther King Jr. Day, according to KCBS Radio. Sources close to the California Democrat have reportedly told the station that she will announce her candidacy at a campaign rally in Oakland. Harris has been reluctant to answer whether or not she intends to run, but told CNN on Wednesday that she believes the country is ready for a woman of color as president.

 

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11 hours ago, Altherion said:

A bicameral system in which both legislative assemblies have real power is necessarily inefficient and ours (deliberately) has an extra wrinkle in that the chief executive can veto a compromise which has a slim majority of support in both chambers. That said, I don't think the people who designed the system foresaw its current incarnation.

Right, although my criticism more has to do with the 'soft power' that the Senate Majority Leader holds; to me a simple tweak would be to have the House and Senate automatically debate/go through committee/put up for vote whatever the other passes. Not to say it is a guarantee we will have more bills passing through a divided Congress this way, but it would be better than the current system we have.

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5 minutes ago, IheartIheartTesla said:

Right, although my criticism more has to do with the 'soft power' that the Senate Majority Leader holds; to me a simple tweak would be to have the House and Senate automatically debate/go through committee/put up for vote whatever the other passes. Not to say it is a guarantee we will have more bills passing through a divided Congress this way, but it would be better than the current system we have.

The problem with that is that, because of Senate procedures, it will never be capable of considering bills as quickly as the House can. Which means, if this requirement existed, the House could flood the Senate with bills that will take all its time to consider and prevent the Senate from doing other work, like confirming judicial and executive nominations.

That might sound okay right now, but imagine if in 2011-2015 the Republican House took a couple weeks to pass a few hundred slightly different ACA repeal bills and forced the Democratic Senate to spend all its time considering each one of them.

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10 hours ago, Altherion said:

I suspect they'd be fine with no action when there is no consensus, but they didn't plan for the federal government growing into by far the largest single organization on the planet by revenue (except perhaps to avoid this) and they didn't plan for legislators and executives that would be willing to use this funding as a bargaining chip and use it beyond bluffing. As far as I can tell, the latter was not done until 1976 (i.e. nearly two centuries after Jefferson, Madison et al). Realistically, no human being or group thereof can possibly predict or plan for events that far removed from them (good luck doing it for half a century from now, let alone two centuries).

I agree with this.  Easy for us more than two centuries later to say "shoulda woulda coulda", but in a sense, they were engaged in responding to the emergency at hand (the failure of the articles of confederation) and doing something pretty darn radical.  The bigger failure is actually the inability to change some of the process failures that are baked into the document.  We've fixed some of them (e.g., direct election of senators, electing president and vice president together), but the amendment process is (intentionally) so hard that other fixes to the plumbing haven't occurred.

1 hour ago, Fez said:

It's not just shutdowns though, there was enormous gridlock almost immediately, mostly, though not entirely, around the slavery issue. Having a different system probably wouldn't have peacefully resolved the issues, but maybe it could've been dealt with faster rather than having another 70 years of misery before the civil war started.

Yes - and it was an issue even in the drafting process.  There have always been competing views for the future of this country which stem from more than realpolitik but from very different moral frameworks.

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6 hours ago, drawkcabi said:

I was just watching The Daily Show and the found a a video from 2004 of Trump giving a commencement speech.

This is beyond The Onion parody territory except that it's completely real, it's just...holy shit.

 

I think trying to come up with things Trump says or does he hasn’t directly contradicted before ought to be a competitive sport. 

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First, I think enough time has passed for me to take a victory lap because I predicted a long shutdown.    :commie:

Second, should Democrats continue to stay put or is it time to go on the offensive? It’s a dicey call because right now they have the upper hand, but Trump can do more to control the narrative as time passes. They could easily cut a series of ads highlighting how the House and Senate have passed bills to open the government up, and combine that with the clip of Trump saying he owns the shutdown.  

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2 hours ago, Fez said:

The problem with that is that, because of Senate procedures, it will never be capable of considering bills as quickly as the House can. Which means, if this requirement existed, the House could flood the Senate with bills that will take all its time to consider and prevent the Senate from doing other work, like confirming judicial and executive nominations.

That might sound okay right now, but imagine if in 2011-2015 the Republican House took a couple weeks to pass a few hundred slightly different ACA repeal bills and forced the Democratic Senate to spend all its time considering each one of them.

I can imagine that easily, procedure would be adapted to maximize senate power and punish the house for being annoying: the senate would simply pass a rule stating that bills from the house may receive a zero debate no committee up or down vote in the senate and then the entire senate unanimously voice votes them all down, clearing the docket in an hour or two. Then the senate would pass their own bills on their own timeline and force a conference committee when they want one.

Bureaucracy would invent and adapt tools of procedure very quickly to nullify any such changes. Hardly a ghostbusters esque dogs and cats living together disaster apocalypse you seem to be implying.

Edited by lokisnow

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2 hours ago, lokisnow said:

I can imagine that easily, procedure would be adapted to maximize senate power and punish the house for being annoying: the senate would simply pass a rule stating that bills from the house may receive a zero debate no committee up or down vote in the senate and then the entire senate unanimously voice votes them all down, clearing the docket in an hour or two. Then the senate would pass their own bills on their own timeline and force a conference committee when they want one.

Bureaucracy would invent and adapt tools of procedure very quickly to nullify any such changes. Hardly a ghostbusters esque dogs and cats living together disaster apocalypse you seem to be implying.

That only works if there actually is unanimous consent, like you posit, but there almost certainly wouldn't be. Members of the minority party in the Senate would object and force the Senate to spend 30 hours on each bill. Ted Cruz would've been thrilled to waste the Democratic senate's time doing that a few years ago so they couldn't do anything else, and I'm sure there's at least a few Democratic senators now who'd be willing to do it now so that Trump can't get any more judges confirmed.

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Michael Cohen will voluntarily appear before the Congressional Oversight Committee, in public, and then a private appearance before at least one other committee before he heads off to prison.

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