Once again the Senate Democrats, in particular the leadership, let the American people down by allowing the Republicans to threaten a filibuster of the Buffett Rule. Media reports tell a story of the bill’s failure with a final vote of 51-45. On top of that, the AP says:
By a near party-line 51-45 tally, senators voted to keep the bill alive but fell nine votes short of the 60 needed to continue debating the measure.
Really, the Senate voted on cloture — a vote to end debate, not continue it. Continuing debate without a timeframe on it is a filibuster and cloture requires 60 votes to end the filibuster. Moving on.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid allowed this vote to happen for an election talking point this fall. Democrats can run on trying to restore some equity in the tax code with the Buffett Rule while Republicans can bash Democrats for trying to raise taxes. A win, win for both political parties. A big time loss for the people who do not take home a million dollars a year.
Filibusters once required a Senator, or a few working in tandem, to speak continuously on the floor. Bernie Sanders did this in December of 2010 to stall the tax cut deal. Sanders even caucuses with Democrats, yet Majority Leader Reid made him speak for more than eight and a half hours.
Republicans merely threaten to filibuster a bill they disagree with and Reid give them the cloture vote that he knows will come up short of 60 votes. This is a missed opportunity to force Republicans to speak to the American public on why they want to protect the rich. Forcing the party to stall the work of the Senate with an actual filibuster would give Americans an honest view of a party that does not have the best interest of the working people at heart.
Imagine 40 GOP Senators taking to the floor and talking on CSPAN about the importance of keeping taxes low for millionaires and billionaires. If they did not want to talk about it, then they might start reading Ayn Rand’s gibberish or Paul Ryan’s terrible idea of a budget plan.
Sanders, who cosponsored the legislation, said the following after the Republicans successfully blocked the bill:
“It is absurd that at a time when our country has a $15.6 trillion national debt and enormous unmet needs, the wealthiest people in this country have an effective tax rate that is lower than many middle-class people. It makes no sense that the richest people in America pay an effective tax rate lower than small businessmen, nurses, teachers, police officers and others,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders.
By not forcing their hand the Democratic leadership in the Senate allowed the bully on the playground to walk away with our lunch money. They didn’t make the bully even throw a punch, instead they said okay just take it and we won’t even make other people see you do it!