Claire McCaskill seems to be softening her line on the Senate stimulus deal. She Tweets “Just saw Krugman’s comments on reduction in recov act. Question for him. Would no stimulus act be better than one thats 800 B instead of 900.” And follows up “Compromise had to happen or we would NOT have 60 votes. Period.” This may well all be true. But it’s quite a bit different from what she was saying yesterday when she was taking pride in having trimmed the package.
But bottom line, the Senate version of the bill is better than nothing. Brad DeLong says: “relative to the alternative of no bill we do boost employment in America a year from now by on the order of 3 million.”
The Senate bill is a lot better than doing nothing. But the House bill is a lot better than the Senate bill. Democratic Senators who understand that will be trying to use the conference committee process to produce something more like the House bill than the Senate bill. Or, even better, something better than the House bill. And they’ll be working to get Senate Republicans to vote for the conference report.
Meanwhile, I’ll say for the thousandth time that there’s a very strong case for eliminating the filibuster. The authors of the constitution never intended for their to be a supermajority requirement for legislation to pass the Senate, and until extremely recently there was no such requirement. The filibuster was a tolerable feature of the U.S. legislative process because it was rarely used. But over the past fifteen years—and especially over the past two years—it’s become routine and needs to be done away with.