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Gregg Slams Democracy as “Strong-Arm Tactics”

By Matthew Yglesias

"Gregg Slams Democracy as “Strong-Arm Tactics”"

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The country faces some large problems. Some of these problems the U.S. Senate may, but also may not, address through the budget reconciliation process that allows for majority rule. Since the congress is afflicted by a minority that seems dedicated to not working on these problems, there’s growing interest in using the reconciliation process. Judd Gregg is displeased:

Republicans are howling about the proposal to expand health coverage and tax greenhouse gas emissions without their input, warning that it could irrevocably damage relations with the new president.

“That would be the Chicago approach to governing: Strong-arm it through,” said Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), who briefly considered joining the Obama administration as commerce secretary. “You’re talking about the exact opposite of bipartisan. You’re talking about running over the minority, putting them in cement and throwing them in the Chicago River.”

Two things. One is that it’s not at all clear how “irrevocably damage[d] relations” would differ from the status quo. This is one reason, perhaps, why it’s not customary for a defeated minority to immediately move to a posture of relentless obstruction. By adopting such a posture, you give away a bargaining chip.

Second, the idea that passing legislation my majority rule is some kind of mafia stunt is absurd. This is how bills pass in the House of Representatives, in the parliaments of the United Kingdom and Canada, in the state legislatures of the vast majority of American states. It’s how student council worked in my high school. It’s how New Hampshire town councils make decisions. You’re not talking about “running over” the minority, you’re talking about taking a vote in which the majority wins and the minority loses. That’s how we pick Senators! Judd Gregg doesn’t need 60 percent of the vote to stay in office.

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