Friday, August 20, 2010

Reporting on the 60-vote Senate

News outlets really need to issue some style guidelines when it comes to this stuff:
Obama added that Republican opposition to the bill, which failed to pass by a 58-42 margin at the end of July, "defies common sense," asserting that the bill incorporated both Republican and Democratic ideas.
If you're not a political junkie, you might think that only 42 Senators voted for the bill, and thus might be confused as to why they put the number 58 first, since usually the first number is the number of votes for something. But of course, 58 Senators, a clear majority of the body representing a clear majority of the American public, voted for the bill. All Democrats voted for the bill except Harry Reid, who voted against it for procedural reasons. There ought to be some quick-and-easy way to convey to readers what's going on here, but this isn't doing the job. In the meantime, the Republican minority will continue to stymie the government's ability to respond to anything and reap the political benefits.

3 comments:

Petey said...

"If you're not a political junkie, you might think that only 42 Senators voted for the bill, and thus might be confused as to why they put the number 58 first"

If you're a mild political junkie who is getting their info from WH strategy memos recycled third-hand, then you might think it's just the deplorable Senate rules that caused the failure of the bill.

But, of course, the WH had the opportunity to put economic counter-cyclical measures into a 50 vote "fast track" in the Senate in the spring of 2009, and refused to do so, despite the Senate's appetite for such a procedural measure.

Funny how the mild political junkies never hear a peep about that part of the story...

Nicholas Beaudrot said...

If you're a political junkie who falls prey to the pundit's fallacy, you think there were 50 votes for $1T worth of stimulus via reconciliation.

Do you really think there were 50 votes for such a proposal? Franken was not in office. Kennedy was effectively unable to vote. I count four obvious no votes: Bayh, Nelson, Lieberman, and Lincoln, along with a shitton of questionable votes: Feingold, Conrad, McCaskill, Pryor, Landrieu, Webb, Byrd. It's not at all clear that putting all the spending in reconciliation instructions was ever in the cards.

Petey said...

"If you're a political junkie who falls prey to the pundit's fallacy, you think there were 50 votes for $1T worth of stimulus via reconciliation. Do you really think there were 50 votes for such a proposal? "

Yes. Without a doubt.

And far more importantly than what I thought, Senate Leadrship thought they had 50 votes to put in in the budget resolution. The WH simply told them no.

I only think they had the votes because I (sensibly) trust Leadership's vote counting. The damn idea came from Senate Leadership in the first place. That's not pundit's fallacy. That's the news.

No dollar number was needed back in spring '09. No unpleasant specificity on the measures was needed back in spring '09. No use of the word "stimulus" was needed back in spring '09. The Hill wanted it put into the resolution as a "break glass in case of emergency" measure. The WH decided it didn't want to own the storyline at that moment. Thus, procedurally, the end of the matter.

And, of course, the total spent in the end would have exceeded $1T, doled out in a series of 58 - 42, 55 - 45, and 53 - 47 votes...