Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Stop blaming the Senate Parliamentarian for Senators' commitment to stupidity

I don't understand why savvy political knowers are all mad at the Senate Parliamentarian. Sure, she makes these judgment calls about what can be passed that has severe policy consequences. But she is stuck with the dumb job deciding whether a particular bill with a hodge-podge of different things in it is "primarily" about "spending", "revenue", or the "debt limit" There's really no way to tell. In a bill which Senators put hundred different and yet each independently important things in it, how can anyone decide what it is primarily about. So while the Parliamentarian is going to make stupid decision, the judgment call she is forced to make is inherently stupid to begin with.

The reason that decision is stupid is because the reconciliation rule is stupid. Why have a different number of  Senate votes needed to pass certain bills from the number needed to pass regular bills? That's not in the Constitution. Reconciliation is just a rule the Senate itself made up to get around the stupid filibuster rule.

So to back up a bit, the Constitution says that bills pass the Senate with a majority vote. The Senate made up its own stupid filibuster rule that, while originally a technicality about when debate stops, has become a new requirement that bills need a super-majority. That caused all sorts of problems, especially when it comes to bills that affect the budget and must pass for goverment to function. Rather than fixing the stupid filibuster rule, the Senate created a rule called "reconciliation" to get around the filibuster. But to make sure their new reconciliation rule it didn't undermine the stupid filibuster rule, it had to limit reconciliation to only some circumstances, the ones deemed important enough to not be ham-strung by a filibuster. So that required legislation to be classified as either a regular bill (which required 60 votes because of the filibuster) or a reconciliation bill (which only requires a simple majority like the Constitution says). So the Senate created yet another stupid rule which required the parliamentarian to make a stupid judgment call based on a bunch of arbitrary criteria to decide whether the bill would be subject to the stupid filibuster or the stupid reconciliation process to evade the filibuster.

So yeah, the parliamentarian's judgment call is stupid. But that's because she is being forced to make a stupid judgment call about the application of a stupid rule created to get around an even stupider rule. Instead of trying to make the Senate less stupid, Senators are creating stupid rule on top of stupid rule. And then they are foisting the responsibility of administering that stupid collection of rules on the parliamentarian so she can take the blame for what is really just the Senate's own commitment to stupid senseless rules.