Obama has Supermajority through first term

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by White Lightning, May 14, 2018.

  1. White Lightning Active Member

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    May 9, 2018
    When Barack Obama was elected President he had a majority in the House but only 58 senators. They were finally able to resolve the Minnesota election with Al Franken in July 2009 and Arlen Specter flipped to the Dems in April 2009. That got them to 60 votes but they were never really at 60 with the ailing health of Ted Kennedy and proceeded to lose that supermajority with Scott Brown's defeat of Martha Coakley in the January 2010 Special Election. Now suppose that Al Franken had defeated Norm Coleman by slightly more than 1 %, still close but not enough to trigger a recount and the Dems had nominated someone a little more competent and charismatic than Martha Coakley, maybe Elizabeth Warren runs early.

    So let's say Specter still flips so Dems would have a supermajority from April 2009 until the midterm elections. How would the Obama domestic policy have changed with a little over a year more of complete control? Could they have gotten the House version of Obamacare to pass instead of panicking and throwing a last minute Senate version together with the hated individual mandate and fuzzy language that made it easy for Republicans to challenge in court, eventually leading to the Roberts decision that states did not have to provide Medicaid.

    How about pet Democratic projects like Cap and Trade and Infrastructure that whittled and went nowhere when Republicans filibustered the Bills?
    Could we have had a more stringent Dodd Frank without needing to cater to the Conservatives? What about a Jobs bill or Energy bill passing? Seems the possibilities were limitless if only a number of fluky events did not go against them.
     
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  2. GeographyDude Well-Known Member

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    Or, the new Senate on Jan. 6, 2009 votes to abolish the filibuster. And they so do by simple majority. They might even stop counting after 51 votes in order to make a very definite point. Now, even though the filibuster is just an internal Senate rule,

    might still have the feel of a coup,

    So, it’s important than the new Senate allows full and wide-ranging discussion before votes (even if they’re quick to rebut Republicans which such stingers as, yes, we certainly do have death committees, they’re called HMOs!).

    Obama might need to more often reference FDR, describe what worked during the Depression, say what the modern equivalent is, and tell how we’re going to monitor feedback.
     
  3. Alcsentre Calanice Our Equivalent of Click Bait

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    I still consider it Obama's most important mistake that he didn't pushed for that. Had he done it, he could have passed so many reforms until the (maybe) inevitable loss of the House majority in 2010.
     
  4. wiking The One and Only

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    I thought they didn't have 51 votes (or even 50+Biden) to pull that off?
     
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  5. Maeglin Lómion

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    1. Those 60 votes included Joe Lieberman, Ben Nelson, and Mary Landrieu.

    2. Abolishing the filibuster is going to antagonise Robert Byrd and some of the more old-school Senators.
     
  6. CountDVB Well-Known Member

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    Not to mention it would be problematic when the Repubs take advantage of it.

    Though What could Obama due with a supermajority in the Senate?
     
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  7. David T Well-Known Member

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    Nov 8, 2007
    No, Obama simply could not have gotten the votes for that. Even as late as 2013, after four years of Republican obstruction, three Senate Democrats opposed Reid's very limited curtailment of the filibuster (a curtailment limited to confirmations of presidential appointees, and not even all of them, since it excluded the Supreme Court). Obama and Reid could not have gotten the legislative filibuster abolished in 2013 (admittedly, there wouldn't have been much point in doing so, since the Republicans controlled the House and could block any legislation there--but even if the Democrats had controlled the House in 2013, Obama and Reid couldn't have gotten the legislative filibuster abolished then). And there was still less sentiment for abolishing the legislative filibuster in 2009. Too many Democrats opposed the idea for various reasons--first, they remembered that the Republicans had controlled the Senate as late as 2006, and they knew the Democrats' majority would not last forever. Second, they expected more cooperation than they ultimately got from moderate Republicans like Snowe and Collins. Third, a considerable number of them were not liberals, and did not necessarily want a bare liberal majority--if such could be found--to automatically prevail. And fourth, most senators didn't want to change a Senate tradition so drastically unless it seemed necessary. You may notice that the GOP hasn't ended the legislative filibuster despite unified Republican government...
     
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  8. thekingsguard Founder of Korsgaardianism

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    It gets pissed away on Obamacare and dies with Ted Kennedy. Then gets utterly shot to hell with the 2010 Midterms.
     
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  9. GeographyDude Well-Known Member

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    Point well taken.

    Too many Senators, and too many of my fellow citizens in general, seem to view the filibuster as this great and glorious tradition. And, I just don’t see it.
     
  10. Asp Well-Known Member

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    The Senate would never get rid of the filibuster and there was never any hope of it happening. Despite the abuse of it under Obama, it is a key check and balance on one party being able to ram through whatever they want. I have to be careful because this isn’t chat, but I am just going to say that in light of subsequent history, everyone should be pretty glad that the majority party can’t just pass everything on their bucket list with no input from the minority party. The pendulum always swings back, people, especially when you’re the incumbents.

    To the OP, best way might be to have McCain go with his gut and choose Lieberman for VP. IMHO it would have angered the base and much limited GOP turnout. That could get the Dems the Kentucky and Georgia seats, which would make their supermajority much more solid.
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2018
  11. GeographyDude Well-Known Member

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    Just a reminder of how bad the 2008 financial institution crisis was. And how Pres. Bush deserves a fair amount of credit, for basically being an emergency room doctor.
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2018
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  12. RousseauX Donor

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    Oct 25, 2011
    even with obamacare the democrats could have easily won 2010 MA senate race with a slightly less bad candidate
     
  13. RousseauX Donor

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    McConnell already got rid of it for SCOTUS appointees

    the legislative fillibuster will almost certainly be gone (barring some other dramatic reform of the senate) sometime during the 21st century
    Parliamentary democracies such as the UK and Canada basically have a legislature capable of passing w/e it wants if a party gets a majority and both countries are as well or better ran than the US federal government

    The fillibuster's usage in the 21st century where almost every legislation requires a super-majority is absolutely insane, if party D or R pass something and the people don't like it they can go vote against them in 2 years and go repeal it
     
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  14. Asp Well-Known Member

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    That still leaves the overwhelming majority of it intact.

    Very different systems, the main difference being two-party vs multi-party democracy and the U.S.'s federal system. The Senate and the filibuster are meant to protect the rights of the smaller states, and the structure of the parliamentary system makes it very difficult for one party to accrue that kind of power.
     
  15. RousseauX Donor

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    No it's not: the filibuster was never part of the constitution and is an accidental creation based on arcane senate rules. And was not used except in very rare circumstances until the 1960s. In the 1960s it was used to block civil rights legislation and was not used to block much else until Bill Clinton. It's common use didn't occur until 2006 or so:

    [​IMG]

    The states were fine for the first 200 years or so of the United States w/o the fillibuster, the modern filibuster was invented in the last 10 years or so for the tyranny of the minority and is almost entirely a function of partisan politics of the Clinton-Bush-Obama era.

    And McConnell opened the door for it to be chipped away at every congress from here-on out until the it's gone
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2018
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  16. David T Well-Known Member

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    It may well be gone some day, but if so it will have been by a very gradual process--first in 2013 Reid got the confirmation filibuster curbed (not abolished--it still applied to the Supreme Court) and even that faced opposition from some Democrats. Then McConnell extended the curb to Supreme Court appointments, but note how Republicans are still resisting Trump's call to abolish the legislative filibuster. Such an abolition may well take place sometime during the twenty-first century--which after all has 82 years left!--but my point is that there is no way in the world it could have been abolished in 2009, and anyone thinking Obama could have brought it about then is IMO being totally unrealistic about presidential power.
     
  17. TRH Tyrannosaurus Rex Handler

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    Right now, even though the legislative filibuster remains, the Republicans have opted to use budget reconciliation for everything important they've attempted to pass, so that's likely part of the reason they haven't bothered to remove it yet. I suppose eventually someone may get tired of contorting their legislation to satisfy the reconciliation requirements, but in the meantime, I think this is the new normal, one where the filibuster only kind of exists, sometimes.
     
  18. RousseauX Donor

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    The Republicans will always fight to defend the filibuster because they are much more likely to defend the status quo than the Democrats are: and the filibuster is nothing if not useful for defending the status quo

    Obama 2009: I don't know if it's ASBish but if he had campaigned differently in 2008 and made the filibuster a kind of key issue I could see it because then his victory would have brought with it a mandate: if the barrier is basically which senators happen to have being in office then fairly minor PoDs could have adjusted the balance
     
  19. GeographyDude Well-Known Member

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    Let me try to build a middle-of-the-road position.

    What about immediately after WWII when the Labour Party in the UK nationalized steel and then when the Conservative Party regained power they de-nationalized steel?

    When the U.S. system works well, we do seem to run a steadier ship of state.
     
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  20. Maeglin Lómion

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    Oct 15, 2014
    You are aware that the UK has a two party system, and that single-party majority governments are the norm, right?