Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Republicans Seem To Have Forgotten Congress Is Not Parliment

Steve Benen provides the following chart about the budget and debt ceiling negotiations.


I'll leave it to partisans on both sides to determine the table's accuracy.

This chart, however, does point to another problem: the Republican effort to treat Congress as if it were a parliament. A couple of weeks ago, Representative Justin Amash (R-M) gave voice to the attitude:
“You have to start with a Republican proposal. We have a Republican majority [in the House] that was elected by Republicans. Let’s start with a Republican proposal.
If the United States were a parliamentary system with a largely ceremonial upper house, John Boehner would be the chief executive. The Republicans would pass their proposals under the Hastert Rule, and no one should complain. However, even my young policy debaters run enough Federalism DAs to know that congresspersons and senators are elected to represent districts and states not political parties. They also know that the Senate is not ceremonial.

The chart indicates a Republican wish list, but, to trot out a tried but true cliche, elections have consequences. Obama defeated Romney quite handily. Democrats control the United States Senate. Republicans may control the United States House of Representatives, but Democrats got more total votes than Republicans did in House races. If Republicans want to pass these proposals, they need to win the White House in 2016 or the Senate in 2014.

When one uses institutions for purposes other than which they were created, the institutions often crumble and lose credibility. Using the House of Representatives as a House of Commons is a huge crack in federalist system established by the Constitution.

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