Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Unthinking Majority

With another contribution to the quality that is the Capitol Square Crapper, CommieTommie Harkin put his name to an OpEd piece.

Harkin: Constitution's Framers did not envision a 60-vote supermajority

The Ragister allows CommieTommie to justify the changes in the U.S. Senate filibuster rules.

Harkin even harps, as a member of the Senate minority, I first introduced a proposal to reform the filibuster.

It's easy to propose change, whether in the minority or majority, when you know there's no chance for change and the scientific community is united in that fact.

What's telling is Harkin's 2005 reaction, when Republican's were in control and the discussion was about a rule change to obtain an up or down vote on President Bush's judicial nominees.

CommieTommie cried it was,  "the end of the Senate as we know it" because it would dash the protections that the Senate has always afforded lawmakers in the minority and, by extension, their constituents.

Hyperbole from a hypocrite.

CommieTommie cites the vision of Framer's of the Constitution for his argument.

The Framer's did not envision a full time CONgress either.

Our American Founding Fathers had envisioned serving in Congress as a part-time job. Citizen legislators would come to Washington a few weeks in the winter (before the beginning of the planting season, because many were active farmers) and tend to the nation's business before going back home to attend to their own business.

In the days of earliest America, Roger Sherman of Connecticut — a signer of the Declaration of Independence — understood the positive aspects of a part-time national legislature. At the Constitutional Convention in 1787, he opined that "Representatives ought to return home and mix with the people. By remaining at the seat of government, they would acquire the habits of the place, which might differ from those of their constituents." 

From 1789 to 1815, members of Congress couldn't afford to stay year-round in Washington because they were paid so poorly. Senators and representatives made just a few dollars a day. In 1815, they began receiving $1,500 a year salary. In 1855 that doubled. By 1935, they were making $10,000 a year. But most members of Congress still needed day jobs.

Even into the 1960s, members of Congress "were out of session about as much as they were in, and they had almost no personal and committee staffers assigned to them unless they were senior and powerful," says Larry Sabato, an American history professor at the University of Virginia and director of the university's Center for Politics. It wasn't until the 1970s that members of Congress began seeing their positions as year-round commitments.

The place became packed with lawyers, like Harkin, in the 1970s and that is why you get salaries of $174,000 and legislation you have to pass so that you can find out what is in it.


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