The other day I asked why Senate Dems didn't make the stallers go through with their filibuster threat and talk themselves hoarse. AzBlueMeanie schooled me about the rules that allow them to Just Say No if they can muster 41 votes.
Here are two further filibuster facts from Krugman this morning.
The political scientist Barbara Sinclair has done the math. In the 1960s, she finds, “extended-debate-related problems” — threatened or actual filibusters — affected only 8 percent of major legislation. By the 1980s, that had risen to 27 percent. But after Democrats retook control of Congress in 2006 and Republicans found themselves in the minority, it soared to 70 percent.
The permanent road block. The Berlin Wall. Call it what you will. (And I certainly hope Dems come up with a pithy and resonant phrase to use over and over and over again between now and November, 2010.)
Here's a possible solution from about 10 years ago. Watch for the shocker: one of the Senators proposing the change.
Back in the mid-1990s two senators — Tom Harkin and, believe it or not, Joe Lieberman — introduced a bill to reform Senate procedures. (Management wants me to make it clear that in my last column I wasn’t endorsing inappropriate threats against Mr. Lieberman.) Sixty votes would still be needed to end a filibuster at the beginning of debate, but if that vote failed, another vote could be held a couple of days later requiring only 57 senators, then another, and eventually a simple majority could end debate. Mr. Harkin says that he’s considering reintroducing that proposal, and he should.