Supermajority Gridlock

James Galbraith says he thinks unemployment will stay high because of gridlock in Washington, specifically the Senate.

Since it now seems to be official policy that it takes 60 yes votes (as opposed to 40 no votes, 59-40 still loses) to pass any legislation through the Senate, this appears to be the case. The GOP was at least willing to threaten the “nuclear option” in 2005. The Dems aren’t even making serious complaints about anything filibuster related.

And why should they? They’re senators too. Look at how powerful Lieberman, Snowe, Collins, Nelson, Landrieu, and Lincoln have become! They more or less are a fourth branch of government at this point. But most senators aren’t going to vote against their own power.

Show me evidence that the Constitution meant for a supermajority vote requirement in Congress. You can’t. The Founders constructed the whole system on the mechanical philosophy of the time and sought to balance things like a watchmaker. They selected the form of government they did because it was a watch they thought you wouldn’t have to wind up so often.

Unfortunately, that hasn’t always proven to be the case, but we do have the second oldest government on earth after the UK. But now it appears that only a crisis can force half-measures to be made. 60 votes.

If you want a preview of how this works, read up on how California has gone over the last few years. It takes supermajorities to do anything here, too.