Author Topic: US govt shutdown  (Read 20445 times)

Offline Peter B

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Re: US govt shutdown
« Reply #30 on: October 05, 2013, 01:26:49 AM »
I don't think Obamacare is similar to the UK's NHS. AIUI, it is basically heavier regulation and subsidising of the existing insurance based system to allow more people to get covered. The NHS on the other hand is a giant government body that provides healthcare directly.
Fair enough. I meant in the sense of a universal health care system, which I suppose could be a statement so generic as to be not particularly meaningful.

Nevertheless, the visceral hatred these Tea Party types seem to be expressing, their utter certainty of their rightness, makes me wonder just how far they'd be willing to go. An article in the newspaper today (not sure where it came from) pointed out that giving in to them this time will just encourage them to shut down the government each year over their next hot-button issue, like say abortion.
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Offline Echnaton

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Re: US govt shutdown
« Reply #31 on: October 05, 2013, 07:11:34 AM »
The shutdown seems to be an almost exclusive feature of the US style of governance.  It wouldn't happen in parliamentary governments because a disagreement at this level would trigger an election, leaving a caretaker government in charge until a new elected government could be formed.  The parliamentary version of our situation is what happened in Belgium, where they went 589 days without an elected government. It is somewhat less drastic, but the same in some ways as the  current U.S. situation. 

Nor would a shutdown occurs in a government dominated by one party or with a semi-dictatorial president, such as in Russia.

I also see plenty of visceral frothing from Democrats and others on the left along with an appearance of unquestioning self righteousness and "rightness."  It is a feature of politics and nothing new. 
« Last Edit: October 05, 2013, 07:13:35 AM by Echnaton »
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Offline Peter B

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Re: US govt shutdown
« Reply #32 on: October 07, 2013, 07:57:40 AM »
...I also see plenty of visceral frothing from Democrats and others on the left along with an appearance of unquestioning self righteousness and "rightness."  It is a feature of politics and nothing new.
Fair enough. But in this case the Republicans are holding the entire government to ransom on the grounds of a single piece of legislation they don't like. Is that reasonable? Ethical? Moral?

Having said that, I understand that all sorts of activities can be prevented from happening (like the appointment of judges) simply by a single member of Congress threatening to filibuster it to pieces. Is that so? And is there any reason why Congress members haven't done anything to change this system (apart from each side wanting to have that shot in their locker for when they're in the minority)?

As I said above, the more I watch what's going on the more I'm reminded of what happened to the Roman Republic in the 1st century BC - the rewards available for being the First Man in the Republic were colossal and each man ambitious enough to try for that prize was willing to exploit the system just a little more than the last. The result was the slide from a chaotic Republican government to an Empire. I can highly recommend Tom Holland's book "Rubicon" which covers this period.
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Offline twik

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Re: US govt shutdown
« Reply #33 on: October 07, 2013, 10:19:20 AM »
I recall a wise person (can't remember who, exactly) who said that the most pivotal role in a democracy was the party that lost. Because to preserve democracy, they must accept that they have lost and behave accordingly. If they don't, they are denying the power of the vote.

Offline qt

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Re: US govt shutdown
« Reply #34 on: October 07, 2013, 11:16:14 AM »
Having said that, I understand that all sorts of activities can be prevented from happening (like the appointment of judges) simply by a single member of Congress threatening to filibuster it to pieces. Is that so?

If I understand the system correctly, it is the senate which has filibusters, the congress having eliminated them well over a century ago.  Furthermore, a filibuster can be overcome by a vote of 60% of the members of the senate, which, having 100 members, would come to a total of 60.  So it is a tactic that can be used to prevent something from happening, when you don't have 51 votes against it, but you do have 41.

And is there any reason why Congress members haven't done anything to change this system (apart from each side wanting to have that shot in their locker for when they're in the minority)?

The two houses each make their own rules, and could choose to strengthen, weaken, enact, or abolish the filibuster.  A rules change proposal itself could be - yes, that's right, you guessed it - filibustered.

In 2005, Republican senators proposed a measure to eliminate the filibuster.  I was living in the US at the time, and recall protests.  Whether the protesters would have felt the same away about the proposal, had the position of the two parties been reversed, is something we can only speculate about.  I suspect each party wants to have it, since they only use it for goodness and justice, whereas their opponents only use it to subvert the will of the majority.

As I said above, the more I watch what's going on the more I'm reminded of what happened to the Roman Republic in the 1st century BC

I certainly hope the fall of the US doesn't take another 500+ (or 1500+, depending on how you look at it) years.

Offline gillianren

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Re: US govt shutdown
« Reply #35 on: October 07, 2013, 12:52:43 PM »
I certainly hope the fall of the US doesn't take another 500+ (or 1500+, depending on how you look at it) years.

I'm confused by this.  Yes, I'd like my country to be a bit less meddlesome, but why do you want it to stop being a country?
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Offline Echnaton

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Re: US govt shutdown
« Reply #36 on: October 07, 2013, 02:54:08 PM »
But in this case the Republicans are holding the entire government to ransom on the grounds of a single piece of legislation they don't like. Is that reasonable? Ethical? Moral?

They did propose to a continuing resolution to fund everything but Obamacare.  The idea was shot down by the Dems.  It is a bipartisan mess and will take some time to resolve. 

Ultimately, I believe, it will put us on a path towards true acceptance or rejection of OC, now that we know what it looks like.  It was just pie in the sky that no one really understood when it was made law.  If OC is really widely accepted by the public, it will get going, but it may take until after the next Congressional election.  One thing about the OC law, is that it can be discontinued by reducing the subsides until no one needing a subsidy can afford to use the system.  The government has done this in the past with other open ended medical reform packages once the true cost of what is promised in vague laws has become apparent. We are a long way from a permanent system.
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Offline Echnaton

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Re: US govt shutdown
« Reply #37 on: October 07, 2013, 03:23:45 PM »
Having said that, I understand that all sorts of activities can be prevented from happening (like the appointment of judges) simply by a single member of Congress threatening to filibuster it to pieces. Is that so? And is there any reason why Congress members haven't done anything to change this system (apart from each side wanting to have that shot in their locker for when they're in the minority)?

The Senate has an open ended debate policy while the House has a time limited debate, with the time set by the Speaker. Debate in the Senate can be ended by a parliamentary motion, cloture, that requires a super majority of members.   The Senate changes the speaking rules from time to time, to give more or less power to filibusters.

From recollection it is something like this. 

At one time, it was required for one speaker to stay at the lectern.  The senator could stop speaking while a question was being asked but had to stand there the whole time.  This pretty much limited the filibuster.  Some years back the rule was changed to allow the speech to stop for the night, that is when it became a more powerful tool.  The cloture vote requires a 2/3 super majority.  So pretty much any law had to have 2/3rds of the Senate to pass.

I remember watching a debate on a Republican, newly in the majority, proposal changing the cloture requirement to 50%.  Democrats, now the minority party, were "frothing" over this proclaiming the Republicans were trying to stifle the rights of the minority, or similar.  While before the change of control the majority Democrats had proposed various similar changes and were met with Republican froth. 

The rules have changed somewhat since then and I am not sure what they are are now.  But in general one Senator cannot exclusively by himself indefinitely hold up legislation or nominations.  It can only be done with support of his party.  But for high ranking Senators, the party will generally not go against them for nominations approvals. 

I've always felt the Senate should be time limited on how long it can hold up an appointment.  The Senate makes its own rules, only a constitutional amendment can change the way things work.
« Last Edit: October 07, 2013, 03:26:20 PM by Echnaton »
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Offline Echnaton

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Re: US govt shutdown
« Reply #38 on: October 07, 2013, 03:34:32 PM »
As I said above, the more I watch what's going on the more I'm reminded of what happened to the Roman Republic in the 1st century BC - the rewards available for being the First Man in the Republic were colossal and each man ambitious enough to try for that prize was willing to exploit the system just a little more than the last. The result was the slide from a chaotic Republican government to an Empire. I can highly recommend Tom Holland's book "Rubicon" which covers this period.

This kind of thing is one of the driving ideas behind my general philosophy of limiting government power.  Particularly the power to borrow and provide subsidized credit to private borrowers.  Restricting the purse makes personal and group plundering much more difficult.  We are just recovering from the disaster caused by the US government policy of promoting and subsidizing home mortgage lending. 
The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new. —Samuel Beckett

Offline qt

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Re: US govt shutdown
« Reply #39 on: October 12, 2013, 11:52:58 AM »
I'm confused by this.  Yes, I'd like my country to be a bit less meddlesome, but why do you want it to stop being a country?

Why people wish for the end of repressive regimes is truly one of life's great mysteries.

Offline gillianren

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Re: US govt shutdown
« Reply #40 on: October 12, 2013, 01:04:09 PM »
Repressive to whom?  Yes, as I said, I want us to be less meddlesome--like not interfering in other countries' free elections to put the guy we want in charge in office instead--but that doesn't mean I want the country to go away.  Do you not understand the difference?  And what do you want in its place?
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Offline qt

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Re: US govt shutdown
« Reply #41 on: October 12, 2013, 03:47:50 PM »
Yes, as I said, I want us to be less meddlesome--like not interfering in other countries' free elections to put the guy we want in charge in office instead--but that doesn't mean I want the country to go away.

That's what you want.  I am not you.  I am a different person than you.  I don't have to want the same thing you want.

Do you not understand the difference?

Obviously that's the problem, how else could I possibly want something different than what you want?
« Last Edit: October 12, 2013, 03:55:28 PM by qt »

Offline Noldi400

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Re: US govt shutdown
« Reply #42 on: October 12, 2013, 07:32:54 PM »
Yes, as I said, I want us to be less meddlesome--like not interfering in other countries' free elections to put the guy we want in charge in office instead--but that doesn't mean I want the country to go away.

That's what you want.  I am not you.  I am a different person than you.  I don't have to want the same thing you want.

Do you not understand the difference?

Obviously that's the problem, how else could I possibly want something different than what you want?

Still, just out of curiosity, what would you like to see our "repressive regime" replaced by?

Not that the US is likely to fall, either soon, or in the next 500 years.  The system's weathered much worse storms than this one in the last 240 years - this latest little spat is just a hiccup in historical terms.
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