The Sins of the Senate
House Democrats are in trouble. Even with substantial majorities in both houses of Congress, Democrats have been unable to get the economy back to operating at full capacity. Whatever the other achievements of this Congress, voters are going to hold them responsible.
House Democrats are likely to take the biggest hit. Because Senators come up for election only every 6 years, just a little over a third of Senate seats are at stake in this election. That’s why Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight still gives the Democrats an 82% chance of holding on to the Senate. But everyone in the House is up for election. Because the Democrats have a majority in the House, they have more seats to lose than Republicans. And, of course, the reason the Democrats have that majority in the first place is that anger with the Republicans and enthusiasm for Obama two years ago helped them win seats in districts that normally go Republican. Democrats in those districts face long odds to win those seats again.
The irony is that it's not really the fault of Democrats in the House. They were prepared to do more. As Jonathan Cohn points out, the House passed a climate change bill and a health care reform bill that included the public option, both of which would have energized the Democratic base. House Democrats even wanted a larger stimulus package, which—as unpopular as the idea of stimulus seems to be right now—might have helped improve the economy.
As Cohn says, it was the Senate—the so-called “world's greatest deliberative body”—that kept Congress from doing more. As George Packer recently explained in The New Yorker, it's extremely difficult to get anything through the Senate, even with a 60-vote majority. The filibuster—the product of an old Senate rule that allowed debate to go on indefinitely—allows just 40 senators to block almost any legislation. Even when you have 60 votes in theory, just one defection can sink a bill. Senate rules also allow a single senator to place an anonymous hold on a bill or a nominee for office, and effectively hold the entire chamber hostage. In February, for example, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) placed a “blanket hold” on 70 of Obama’s nominees in order to demand military contracts be awarded to contractors in his home state. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) has likewise refused to let the White House’s nominee for Office of Managment and the Budget Director, Jacob Lew, get a vote for months, until she is satisfied with the way permits for deepwater drilling are being issued.
None of that is House Democrats’—or Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA)—fault. Obviously, many people are glad they didn’t do more and will be happy to see them lose the House. But, as Greg Sargent says, it is perverse that House Democrats will bear “the brunt of voter punishment for what are really the Senate’s failings.”
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It has found several bizarre planets outside of our solar system.
- The Kepler program closed down in August, 2018, after nine and a half years of observing the universe.
- Picking up where it left off, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) has already found eight planets, three of which scientists are very excited about, and six supernovae.
- In many ways, TESS is already outperforming Kepler, and researchers expect it to find more than 20,000 exoplanets over its lifespan.
Meanwhile, Spaniards are the least likely to say their culture is superior to others.
- Survey by Pew Research Center shows great variation in chauvinism across Europe.
- Eight most chauvinist countries are in the east, and include Russia.
- British much more likely than French (and slightly more likely than Germans) to say their culture is "superior" to others.
This economy has us in survival mode, stressing out our bodies and minds.
- Economic hardship is linked to physical and psychological illness, resulting in added healthcare expenses people can't afford.
- The gig economy – think Uber, Lyft, TaskRabbit, Handy – is marketed as a 'be your own boss' revolution, but it can be dehumanizing and dangerous; every worker is disposable.
- The cooperative business model can help reverse wealth inequality.
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