Wednesday, July 01, 2009

The meaning of 60 votes

Bernie Sanders, speaking with Ezra Klein, reminds his Senate colleagues of something really important.

I have a lot of respect for Max Baucus. I know he's working very hard. But I think his strategy is just not right. The people have given the Democrats the responsibility to bring real change and that's what people want. You've probably seen the New York Times poll showing 72 percent want a Medicare-like public option. No Republicans support that at all.

So I think, with all due respect to Max and his hard work, it's the wrong strategy. I think the strategy should be to say to all 60 members of the Democratic caucus that even if you don't want a public plan in the final bill, you should commit to ending the Republican filibuster. You don't need 60 votes to pass legislation. You need 60 votes to end the filibuster. And if we do that, we can get a strong public plan that will be real change.

And he continues,

Look, I like Chuck Grassley. But people in the country are not sitting around saying, "We need a good bipartisan bill! That's what we need!'" They're saying we need good, universal coverage for every American, man, woman, and child. And it needs to be affordable. If Chuck Grassley and Olympia Snowe and these other nice people I know decide to vote against it, that's fine. People in America aren't sitting up nights worrying how they'll vote. The goal should not be bipartisanship. It's passing something that is strong and good.

Speaking of which, reading Battle Cry of Freedom, I was amazed to learn the etymology of the word "filibuster:"

filibuster piratical adventurer. XVI. (flibutor, fleebuter). The ult. source is Du. vrijbuiter FREEBOOTER; later (XVIII) — F. flibustier, succeeded (XIX) by the present form — Sp. filibustero.
Hence as vb. XIX.
It all makes sense now.

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