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What I Would’ve Attacked the Republicans on Last Year

Over the next few days, a group of Congressional experts will try to answer the big questions that came out of the Capitol last year: Were the Democrats as hapless as the press made them out to be? How could've they been more effective in meeting those filibustering Republicans head-on? What happened with the timetable for withdrawal? And, hey, where's Rahm when you need him? You can read their responses here: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, Part Six, Part Seven, Part Eight, Part Nine, Part Ten, Part Eleven.

From: Norman Ornstein

To: Michelle Cottle and Eve Fairbanks

Subject: What I Would’ve Attacked the Republicans on Last Year

I agree that a generalized charge of obstructionism, even with clever analogies, will not cut it. And I would not suggest a filibuster on an issue chosen at random, but on one where there is a) overwhelming public support for action; b) a majority of support in the Senate; and c) a minority cynically blocking action. So I would have drawn the line, for example, on the energy bill, where the Republicans tried to block a provision that would’ve ended a ridiculous tax break for oil companies to generate more R&D on alternative, renewable energy sources. Or on the attempt to preserve huge farm subsidies for multimillionaire farmers.

As for the quorum call issue, Eve, it is true that there is more of a burden on the majority than the minority, but you can keep a session going with lots of quorum calls and still take the floor or the airwaves regularly to say that there is only one reason that the Senate is being blocked from reducing global warming, energy prices, and U.S. subsidies to men like Ahmadinejad, Putin, and Chavez--and that’s that the Republicans are trying to protect the big oil companies.

(Read Eve Fairbanks's response here.)

Eve Fairbanks is an associate editor at The New Republic. Michelle Cottle is a senior editor at The New Republic. Norman Ornstein is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and the author, in 2006, of The Broken Branch: How Congress Is Failing America and How to Get It Back on Track, with Thomas E. Mann.

By Michelle Cottle, Eve Fairbanks, and Norman Ornstein