Republicans pretend that they are powerless to do more about the great ship Obamacare than to change the fuel on which it runs and rearrange its deck chairs — never mind to sink it. Because they lack 60 votes to stop “unlimited debate,” they claim to be unable to vote even on whether to allow health insurance to be sold across state lines. They pretend to believe that fidelity to unlimited debate in the Senate trumps the importance of our health care system. But the reason why they prop up Obamacare rather than tearing it down is that they are even more beholden to the insurance companies and hospital chains than the Democrats who passed it in the first place.Neither the filibuster nor the requirement of 60 votes to “cloture” it prevents voting and passing anything that a majority wishes to pass. Moreover, Senate rules can be made or changed by simple majorities.
If Republicans were serious about voting on any provision regarding health care, or anything else, they would not have to bother eliminating the filibuster. It would be enough to dare opponents actually to wage real ones — complete with minority senators babbling and majority senators sleeping on cots ready to answer quorum calls.
Real filibusters advertise the minority’s fatal political liability: refusal to confront the questions at hand. Because holding the floor to the exclusion of the majority makes it impossible to confute the majority, “extended debate” refutes no one and persuades no one. As the minority filibusters with scattershot or nonsense, the majority can repeat demands for roll-call votes to decide on matters at hand.
Today however, Republicans are even more unwilling than Democrats to take responsibility for basic choices. The Democrats’ Obamacare made health insurance companies into public utilities. This is what the companies wanted.
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