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That is a very interesting argument, but it has little resemblance to the health care bill. For example, the proposal isn`t actually rejected by a majority. As for the process, I would like to point you towards some very good discussions that have been going on in the blogosphere about the filibuster and the reconciliation process, what it is and its history.

You can see more here - http://www.themonkeycage.org/2010/01/everything_you_wanted_to_know.html

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein/2010/03/a_reconciliation_primer.html

http://www.tnr.com/blog/jonathan-chait/jesus-christ-mike-allen-reconciliation-not-complicated


Maybe after wards you can reconcile your history with what reconciliation truly is.

Daniel,

Every bit of polling I've seen on the current bill, especially the Senate bill, indicates at least a plurality against it, if not a majority. Here's Rasmussen from earlier this month with a majority opposed: http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/current_events/healthcare/march_2010/55_say_congress_should_start_over_on_health_care

Gallup has opposition at a 48% plurality: http://www.gallup.com/poll/126521/Favor-Oppose-Obama-Healthcare-Plan.aspx

And reconciliation is a red herring. If the House passes the Senate bill, it will never go back to the Senate. It will go right to the White House to be signed. You can take that to the bank. So my reference to parliamentary chicanery was more about the Slaughter Solution and self-executing rules than reconciliation, which is perfectly acceptable when used appropriately.

What if the issue were not "healthcare" but genocide? Imagine the legislation would prevent the state from slaughtering some ethnic group in the US. Of course we'd all support any contrivance to get the bill passed in hopes of preventing the terrible crime. I think persons who shrug off your objections about process and legitimacy see the underlying issue as so very important that we might well tolerate infirmities of the process. The stakes are so very high, they imagine. For such persons, the legitimacy of the process is small potatoes.

Part of the problem with current politics in the US is that several issues have taken on this process-be-damned importance, starting with "security" and the supposed "war on terror." We vilify our politic opponents and exaggerate the importance of our own political agenda.

Your comparison proves too much Roger. Part of my point is that, unlike genocide, there's much disagreement on what meaningful health care reform is and whether this bill delivers it. And even among those who oppose the bill, the clear majority favors "health care reform," just not this particular bill.

It's that context that makes the process question so salient. It's hard to imagine what the analogy would be with genocide, thus your chosen example makes it easier to make your point. I'm just not sure that's the right context here.

Nicely done. Any chance that your "left-leaning friends and colleagues" will actually pick up the gauntlet? (Do they even read the blog?) In any case, those responses should be interesting.

Who is reporting 55-60%. Even Fox and Rasmussen polls aren't that high, and Rasmussen especially has been suspect for a long time.

You also have to consider why the opposition is as high as it is. Is it influenced at all by a misrepresentation of the bill? Would the public be more favorable if it weren't for these sweet-heart deals for Nebraska and Louisiana (ie - does the underlying reform have more support than you're suggesting).

I also find it interesting that your example has no analog for the Republicans and the Tea Parties - no misrepresentation by the bill. No negotiations where major campaign platforms on health reform are incorporated (ie - addressing the tax distortion for employer benefits) are in your analogy. No opposition leaders making accusations of socialism and fascism. No claims that the new president is the anti-Christ, a non-citizen, or terrorist sympathizer. None of that is in your example.

I can't make heads or tails of this either:
"In fact, the faculty leadership, working with the clear approval of the president and VPAA, are now scouring Roberts Rules of Order to find a series of sure-to-be controversial parliamentary maneuvers to get the Faculty Senate to approve the new curriculum without it ever going to the full faculty, and possibly without the Faculty Senate ever actually taking a clean vote on it."

Since when do you have to "scour" procedure to find reconciliation? It's a very well known and normal procedure, and the use of reconciliation in this process has been at least as conventional as the use of the filibuster. What's the deal, Steve? Is a vote only "clean" if it goes the way you want? In what way has the Senate and House vote not been clean?


Look, the process hasn't been perfect and this wasn't the bill I was hoping for. Politics is never perfect. But if you've honestly convinced yourself that this little analogy of yours is a good representation of what's going on, then you're clearly too mired in your own opinion of the reform to frame what's going on objectively.

It's also hard to understand exactly what you expect the response to be (not that this is really addressed to me).

Do I wish the process went differently? Sure. It's not like supporters LIKE what went on with Nebraska and Louisiana. If I had any control over that, I wouldn't have given that to them. But I don't. I'll say I didn't like it along with you, but it doesn't change what I think of the bill itself. Do I wish the public was less opposed? Of course. That doesn't change my opinion of the bill. Do I wish they didn't have to use reconciliation? Sure. But the fact that a large majority is better than reconciliation doesn't make me suddenly outraged at reconciliation (I didn't get outraged when it was used before, after all). So yes, many of the issues that you raise are troubling. I've felt and expressed that long before reading this blog. But they don't change my view of the reform itself (and there's a LOT in there I don't like, but I feel it's better than the alternatives that seem to be floating around), and they don't make the process itself completely illegitimate.

So aside from that I'm not sure how you expect people to respond: do you expect them to abandon their own opinion of the bill because the vote is close and the proceedure is somewhat irregular? Why would that change anyone's opinion of the bill itself? And as long as nothing is being done that's illegal, why would anyone say "well, it was a good idea but because we didn't get a sweeping majority for it I'm gonna have to just change my mind on it". That makes no sense.

Again, it's not about reconciliation. That's a red herring. It's about the Slaughter Solution and self-executing rules in the House. There'll be no reconciliation if the House passes the Senate bill, you can count on that.

And if you think the procedure is "somewhat irregular," you are so bound up in your support for so-called health care reform to frame the issue objectively.

Oh - that's what's got you concerned. Maybe you're more of a Congress follower than I am, and know the validity of this proceedure better. When I first heard about it, it sounded similar to a regular conference report, but streamlined so that the conference report process wouldn't be dragged out. It also provided the cover of technicalities for vulnerable Democrats. OK - not exactly admirable motivations for doing it that way, but I never saw any major problems with it. They're voting on the Slaughter Solution rule, right? They're voting on changes to the bill after it passes, right? What element of health reform won't have received a vote in both houses? It seems to me that all of the reform that passes will have gotten a vote in both houses. They've just come up with some procedural sleight of hand that gives some degree of election year cover. Again - not how I'd want it to be passed, but not really something to get apoplectic about either.

"And if you think the procedure is "somewhat irregular," you are so bound up in your support for so-called health care reform to frame the issue objectively."

Like I said, I don't especially support this bill. The worst part - the mandate - is going to raise premiums, just as it's raised premiums in Massachusetts. Hopefully in the future we can have that mandate weakened. I think that's very likely - it was never a major part of either the Republican or Democratic health reform package. It bought centrist votes and the health insurance industry (at least it bought them for a couple months!). It's an easy thing to erode away in the future when it dawns on Congress what a big mistake it was. The rest of the architecture set up by the reform is what I do support - and it's a lot better than the alternative.

I have no doubts about this.

To be a leftist is to reject principle in favor of preferred outcomes of the moment.

When it comes to the community, your leftist colleagues have no principles -- only a dedication to the moral feel good identity group of the left.

Bank on it.

Their dedication to the left is what gets them "off the hook" for any moral responsibility to action according to principle in their own lives -- and they've always banked on it to advance their careers.

Ask yourself.

What would Saul Alinsky do? What would the members of the Daley family do? What would Frank Marshall Davis do? What would the members of the Critical Race Studies group at Harvard University do? What would Emil Jones do?

They'd all pass the measure and not bat an eye.

Let's be realistic about what type of people we are dealing with -- and the type of social order these people believe in.

FWIW Greg, I've worked everyday with folks on the left for the last 20 years and very few of them are consistent with your stereotype. That doesn't mean they're right, it just means they are not the Machiavellian cads you seem to see everywhere. It doesn't match my experience in academia.

Remember too that the bill is currently some 2,700 pages long, which means that (almost) no one actually knows all of what's in it. Not only that, but if it gets passed, since there is no single entity--no politician, no agency, no watchdog group, no citizen--who possesses a comprehensive knowledge of its provisions, it will be all but impossible to know whether all of them are being respected. That means that in practice the newly created and newly expanded government agencies officially charged with carrying out the thousands of provisions will have considerable lattitude in deciding what to enforce, what to forbid, what to provide, what to fund, etc. Thus it strikes me as unrealistic to expect that citizens can come to informed judgments about whether they should support the bill or not.

Steve,

Huh? I was merely commenting that the process-be-damned types exaggerate the stakes. Without "healthcare" right now the sky will fall. No, the sky will not fall. I'm almost afraid to say that as it might suggest that I don't get how important the issue is. I think I get it. But ramming whatever you can get through Congress is unlikely to create enduring beneficial change, which I imagine to be part of your point.

This is a question for Steve and particularly for anyone else who may have a knowledge of the procedures of the original Constitutional convention(s?):

I'm curious as to whether any "political chicanery" occurred in those deliberations? Did the delegates ever use any parliamentary tricks to get their limited government solutions passed, or were they willing to forgo some of the legislation they wanted for the sake of procedural integrity?

I think the answer would provide perhaps a much-needed moral benchmark for the situation. My instincts tell me they didn't compromise the means of parliamentary rules for the end of liberal democracy, partly because the bill of rights was not in the constitution but added afterwards, but then again this is not my area of historical expertise.

A terrific question Chris. I do not know the answer. I do know that Robert's Rules first came out in 1876! :)

All legislation involves compromise and power, no doubt about that. But whether rules were made and then bent? Good question.

I'd stress the banal significance of leftist group identity and the significance of being let "off the hook" as a consequence of mere political stance -- and I wouldn't raise most leftists to the level of "Machiavellian cads" -- most of them have far to little responsibility as decision makers of consequence for any thing as dramatic as that to come into play. You get the psychic benefits of moral posturing and moral group membership -- and the costless "off the hook" card for any non-PC atmospherics, and you never have to think about it.

But let's be honest -- academics and especially academic administrators aren't famous for their moral fiber or backbone. And self-serving departmental behavior is not a cliche for no reason.

And what is the classic saw about academic politics -- something to the effect
that perhaps the behavior at some times appears so appalling because the stakes are so low?

Were "parliamentary tricks" used in the Constitutional Convention? The answer is no. In fact, most of the substantive issues were handled while the Convention was meeting as a Committee of the Whole. That meant that specific issues could be brought up for votes multiple times to test how much support they had. The goal of the Convention throughout was consensus. There were plenty of times when advocates of one position or another had a bare majority, but that was never regarded as good enough. The delegates realized that whatever document they produced would ultimately go before the people as a whole, and that two-thirds of the states would have to ratify before it went into effect.

Steve -- I think we've actually accidentally bumped into a significant issue, the psychology of the non-liberal personality.

Historically, many non-liberals wouldn't do to their neighbors and fellow citizens what they will ask others to do to their neighbors and fellow citizens for them, e.g. they won't themselves take cash from their neighbors to benefit themselves, but they will support delegating others to take cash from their neighbors to benefit themselves. And people who wouldn't personally harm their neighbors have delegated others to do the worst sort of things to their neighbors.

So the fact that someone themselves acts according to principle in their personal affairs doesn't tell us much what they will support as far as adhering to principle and negative rules of just conduct goes in a context where violations of those principles can be delegated to others.

And as I've suggested, there can be all sorts of "don't even have to think about it" benefits to joining the club that is on board with delegating to others any violations of principle in pursuit of expediency.

Wow, I'm entering this discussion late but..
1) I find it fascinating how quickly (one generation, maybe two) this country has gone from healthcare not being a part of the public concious to it largely being considered a right (to at least some degree).
2) I've sat in on my fair share of faculty council meetings at SLU - - - I'll I have to say is some departments love hearing themselves talk way too much (while saying very little) - I'm sure it's like that everywhere though.
3) Roger Koppl: Genocide? really? - although your comparison is strained, lets go with it. I think one of the main points of the constitution, balances of power and procedural hurdles is so that minority's rights are protected against the whims of the majority.

Steve,

Tsk, tsk, being needlessly provocative again, eh? I shall add three comments to what has already been said, as somebody who has actually been threatened seriously with being fired for criticizing a university president for irregular decisionmaking, if we can call it that.

1) While it may not happen, it is generally being reported that if the House passes the Senate bill, the Senate will then amend it on certain matters in reconciliation. Supposedly at the top of such amendments removal of the special deals for Nebraska and Louisiana that you make much of (and which nobody likes, except for maybe some people in those states).

2) All the polls I have seen suggest that there is strong support from the public for the major components of the current bill, if they are presented individually. The current plurality slightly against the bill is against the total bill, which indeed nobody really knows what is fully in it (nor what it will look like after reconciliation, if that happens). Given the strong campaign based on lots of disinformation ("death panels" anyone?) it is not surprising that there is less support for the overall bill than for the various components.

3) Despite all the harrumphing and hysteria, it remains the case that, unless the public option does actually get stuck into the reconciliation (still a possibility, if not very likely), the bill amounts to no fundamental change in the system of health care in this country. It will not guarantee the universal coverage that one finds in every other OECD nation, there will be no substantial increase in the state coverage beyond some increase in coverage of the poor under Medicaid, it will not eliminate the role of for-profit private health insurers, who play no role in any other OECD economy (with the exception of the tightly regulated ones in Switzerland), nor will it increase state employment of any health care workers.

In short, all this bill amounts to is a minor extension of the existing system with some reform tweaks such as forbidding our for-profit health insurers from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions. The hoopla on all sides is simply ludicrously overblown, as is the huffing and puffing about the various legislative maneuvers and tricks used to bring it to passage, if that indeed does happen (has there ever been a major piece of controversial legislation that got passed without various ugly and questionable deals being made?).

Since this blog post is about process let's throw this one out (from the Wash. Post):

Here are some things that happened on the night the GOP pushed the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit through the House of Representatives:

A 15-minute vote was scheduled, and at the end of 15 minutes, the Democrats had won. The Republican leadership froze the clock for three hours while they desperately whipped defectors. This had never been done before. The closest was a 15-minute extension in 1987 that then-congressman Dick Cheney called “the most arrogant, heavy-handed abuse of power I’ve ever seen in the 10 years that I’ve been here.”

It seems no side has a monopoly on chicanery.

Bill Sherlock:

I am puzzled.

Do you consider this a reply to Horwitz's concerns?

"no side?"

I am just curious. It is difficult for me to understand the partisan mind. There are just two sides?

I see both "teams" as being more or less equally bad. To rebut the abuses of one team by pointing to some abuse by the other team just further justifies my priors.

But perhaps I just misunderstood.

Bill Sherlock:

Not one word of argument from me. Find me the place in my post where I even suggested that such tactics were the monopoly of one side. It so happens that the legislation on the table in front of us today involves chicanery from one group.

And for Barkley: I think this bill is a bigger change than you think if only because by spending lots of money and not solving most of the problems, it will open the door to single-payer or the like, which will indeed be a Big Deal and a problematic one at that. And you're hardly one to talk about being "needlessly provocative". ;)

Perhaps what Bill meant to say was that if you are engaged in a contest where your opponents freely bend the rules while you stick by your principles, then you will lose.

And for most people, the knowledge of having obeyed proper procedure is a poor comfort when the other side keeps winning everything. Eventually you will say "screw this - if they can bend the rules, so can I."

Steve and Bill -
I thought Bills point was that there's no reason to think that the extension of voting time or a procedural reclassification of a bill really undermines representative democracy. This is just legislative procedure and a lot of people try to act shocked at it (his Dick Cheney example), but there's really nothing especially threatening or shocking about it. I think that's the broader point.

But the fact that both of you hit on something else entirely - the issue of "partisanship" - is telling in and of itself. Libertarians are very strange in how uniquely they view themselves, as somehow being above the fray. I don't see why. I'm as non-partisan as either of you. I've voted for both parties and I've voted for third party candidates as well. I don't consider myself "partisan" in that sense - certainly no more than you guys are. But you seem very sensitive to even the whiff of that accusation. Why?

Look at Greg Ransom's string of comments that seem to suppose that "the left" is a whole different class of human beings than the rest of us. Now Steve, I know you disagreed with some of Greg's points, so I'm not tying you into this in particular - but I think the sensitivity to partisanship was here to begin with. Exhibit A is the asymmetric treatment of the opponents of health reform in your analogy (something that Barkley remarked on too, that you still haven't commented on, Steve).

Steve,

Of course I was teasing with my "provocative" comment, :-).

Regarding the amount of spending, it is very unclear how much is involved, and I have seen estimates that claim that this will actually reduce the budget deficit, although I fear that this may be due to increases in mandates for state-level spending on Medicaid. It is true that the Massachusetts system has cost more than was projected so far, although the reasons are not fully clear, and it is also not clear how similar and how different this plan is from the MA one, although Republicans (and Romney in particular) are claiming that it is very different (although whether those alleged differences make it more or less expensive is very unclear).

Steve Horwitz's post is singularly on target. Americans are solidly against the bill. Democrat pollsters Pat Caddell & Doug Schoen confirmed that in the Washington Post last Friday. "A solid majority of Americans" oppose the bill. 4/5ths of those who oppose it do so strongly.

Opposition is swing districts is especially strong, as explained in today's Wall Street Journal. It is not, as one comment suggested, that people oppose it because they have been misled. It is because they understand it.

We are not discussing a change in a procedural rule, but a violation of the Constitution (Article I Section 7 on the procedure. Other sections on the substance.)

Americans are less concerned about the size of deficits as the size of spending overall. That is the source of the strong opposition and explains why people who like parts of the bill can oppose it in its entirety. It costs too much.

Well, shame on me for using the word "genocide," which seems to have the power to automatically shut down neural circuits. Steve upbraids me for supposedly not recognizing that there is controversy over "healthcare." Then someone calling himself or herself "Jasper" thinks I need a refresher on checks and balances. Face palm.

Barkley wisely says, "The hoopla on all sides is simply ludicrously overblown." Ya think? My point was that this issue is *not* like genocide and we therefore should *not* trash process, whether you think the trashing is more about customs or constitutions. It's a pretty mild comment. Well, as I said, shame on me for using a word that automatically shuts down neuronal circuits.


When the recipient misreads the message, the sender should assume it is his/her fault. :)

I never meant to imply, Steve, that you only accuse Democrats of using legislative legerdemain to pass a bill. My point is that to accuse one side of evil intent without providing balance is not what I expect for a civil discourse.

To further pursue your curriculum analogy let's consider your original premise: "there is very strong agreement among the faculty on your campus that your curriculum needs an overhaul." Now let's suppose that one group does propose a solution, one that causes great consternation to a particular group of faculty. Further suppose that this particular group had the power to effect such a curriculum change in years past but never even brought a proposal to the table. Now that there is a new curriculum proposal the faculty that used to be in the majority unites in opposition to it. After a year of fruitless bargaining with the opposition group, having seen the opposition was actually bargaining in bad faith, the proposal is voted on and passed by the faculty Senate. (This analogy is beginning to break down due to the unicameral nature of faculty groups!)

The point is, the curriculum still needs revision and only one group has attempted a fix. If the opposition is given an opportunity to be part of the solution and passes, it has no right to quibble about the process any further.

Bill Sherlock's last comment brings to mind the Weimar Republic fallacy (HT: Mario Rizzo). "Nothing could be worse than the Weimar republic."

Jerry,

I just googled on the polling. Depends. Rasmussen says 54% oppose to 35% support, which looks pretty strong. But then Rasmussen has a track record of bias and inaccuracy. Pollster.com has it at 48% oppose to 44% support, which is a lot closer, hardly the solid majority you claim (I agree that Pat Caddell and coauthor made the claim you claim though).

Latest CBO estimate is for cost over a decade to be $971 billion, but with offsetting declines of spending in other areas of over $250 billion, with revenue increases and other changes leading to a net reduction of the deficit by $118 billion. Per year the net spending change looks to be less than $100 billion per year, which is not a number that comes close to matching the rhetoric that has been used to convince people that this is some fiscal catastrophe (and I would lay odds that a majority of the public does not know of the projected deficit reduction, although I cannot imagine why they would not know of this... ).

Barkley,

You are shooting the messenger. There are many polls that show a majority against, and Rassmussen is not an outlier.

You suffer from wonkism. Gov't. programs explode beyond cost estimtes. Look at Medicare. Ordinary people know that. Only wonks pay attention to the estimates, which are worthless.

The CBO MUST take congressional assumptions at face value. But the assumptions are what are being contested.

In any case, none of this meets any constitutional test.

Barkley,

The CBO estimates are only based on what's been given to them. For instance, the planned adjustment to Medicare reimbursements to providers (the "doc fix") will be passed separately. This is a huge number, but it was kept out of "the health care bill" only in order to get the good score. There are other areas where premiums/taxes are paid into particular programs before they begin paying out benefits. As I understand it, these funds are counted as revenue for "the health care bill" as such, but also counted as revenue for the program itself going forward. (I believe this is what some of the R's mean when they talk of "double counting.") Further, the first decade of CBO scoring includes ten years of revenues, but only 6 years in which people are eligible for benefits. Before all of the ad hoc adjustments and double counting were made to the original series of bills, the cost estimates showed a rapidly growing deficit in decade 2 and beyond. Certain portions of "the bill" were taken out (to be passed separately later on) only once these facts became widely known sometime last summer, if memory serves. Like so much of what Obama has done in the past year, appearances take the place of substance.

I'm not sure if you were just being flippant, but in fact many opponents of Obamacare ARE aware of the projected deficit reduction. They also happen to be aware of how that projection has been achieved. The "hysteria" you mentioned earlier gets good television coverage, but the opponents I talk to talk about numbers and incentives, not about Hitler and such.

James H.,

Well, then you are talking to wonks and not the people talked to in the polls. I still bet that a solid majority of people are completely unaware of the projection that this exercise will lead to a deficit reduction, although you are certainly right that there is a lot of stuff going on that could easily lead to that projection not coming true.

Jerry,

Just what is this big constitutional challenge? The requirement that people buy insurance? Is it unconstitutional to require people to buy auto insurance when they register their cars? I am sorry if I just do not see the big deal here, and I continue to maintain that this proposal does not amount to all that much in terms of either money or fundamental changes in how things are done in the US health care system.

Barkley,

"I still bet that a solid majority of people are completely unaware of the projection that this exercise will lead to a deficit reduction..."

I agree. Still, in the (perfunctory) research I've done on this, the debates over the bailout, the stimulus bill and the health care bill(s) have spawned more than a few working-class "wonks." There's a youtube video from last summer that stands out in my mind. It was from a town hall meeting with a congressman (D) from Long Island (I forget his name), but the protesters were very knowledgeable about Social Security, demographics, projected deficits, etc. I have to admit, they knew more than I did. And they were clearly, most of them, not upper-middle class professional types.

In any case, the fact that those of us with graduate degrees are still debating what these bills even do, which is a product of their massive size and scope, doesn't auger well for any "democratic" resolution to these debates. And again, that's another thing you hear the yahoos shouting about -- the bills are too long and complex, and often the congressmen themselves admit that they will not ever actually read themm before voting. Strange, indeed.

Jerry,

Thanks for once again proving that Godwin's Law is true.

I didn`t know you were talking about polls, I thought you were talking about a senate majority. But that brings another question then. Do you really want to go down that road? Where the people have a direct impact, and not trough their representatives? Do you really think this is something that should be done by direct elections, and not by people that (are supposed to) study the subject?

"Is it unconstitutional to require people to buy auto insurance when they register their cars?"

We only need to register our cars if a) we own a car; and b) we want to drive them on the roads that the government built and owns. In other words, it's a system that we can opt out of. Moreover, we only need to be insured up to the point that any damage we cause to other people's persons or propery is covered. Damages to our own vehicles need not be covered.

Daniel S. raises a good question. Direct democracy as a check to parliamentary representation works very well in Switzerland as a way to protect against special interests. But that is not the US system.

The US system is designed to protect MINORITIES. It does so in many ways, of which the existence and structure of the US Senate is one. The Senate was designed to obstruct majoritarianism.

Now through a "mere procedural change" proponents of Obamacare want to ram through a special interests bill against the MAJORITY. (And this bill is just a mass of special interests. Shamefully so in the case of the insurance mandate.)

Barkley, most Americans couldn't specifiy the Constitutional issues. But they are concerned because they know there are such issues with this bill. I already menitoned one of them: the violation of Article I Section 7 in the proposed procedure. Check yesterday's WSJ for an op ed on that particular issue.

This will be my last comment on this thread, and I shall simply return to Steve's original concerns about how all this would look in a faculty setting regarding proposed curriculum changes, and also to at least partly reply to Jerry. It is definitely the case that at the federal level in the US there are substantially more blocks and barriers to passing something controversial than there are in most universities. The obvious example is the need to get a supermajority of 60 votes in the Senate due to the filibuster, which is not in the Constitution, btw. One can object to the nasty deals that were pulled in the Senate to get that supermajority through, but it did get through. Indeed, this proposal, whatever it actually is and whatever one thinks about it, has in fact been under consideration for a full year now and has gone through enormous amounts of debate and many committees and both houses of Congress, with these final rounds of whatever having to do with the differences between those two bills. I do not think that one sees such care or overcoming of entrenched legislative obstacles in most university settings (although one also does not usually see the equivalent of the Nebraska and Louisiana deals either, although as has already been pointed out, these are likely to be absent from a final piece of legilslation, if one actually does pass).

Oh, I note that all this does not mean that whatever might or does come out is either all that great or all that terrible. Indeed, it may well be that the murky mess that it is likely to be may well be more a function of all these layers and complications of the decisionmaking and legislating process than due to some unconstitutional corruption or undemocratic seizure of power. It is a supreme case of legislation as unpleasant sausage making.

The chicanery regarding the U.S. Constitution came during the ratification process. The Federalists pulled out all the stops against the Antifederalists, or as Elbridge Gerry called them, the Rats and Anti-Rats.

Wonderful post.

I will only add that I know a number of left wing academics who now oppose the health care "reform" and are disgusted by the whole process. I disagree with them over what *should* be done, but there's a remarkable number who agree with me (and you) that the current process & bill stink.

Look, the process hasn't been perfect and this wasn't the bill I was hoping for. Politics is never perfect. But if you've honestly convinced yourself that this little analogy of yours is a good representation of what's going on, then you're clearly too mired in your own opinion of the reform to frame what's going on objectively.

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