News Flash: Senate Does Nothing

Ezra Klein, writing in the Washington Post today, explains why the Senate will continue to be dysfunctional.

Being dysfunctional, its recent talk of reforming itself has of course come to nothing:

If historians ever have to pinpoint the day that America lost the future, they’re likely to look to Thursday. That was when Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell took to the floor of the Senate to announce an agreement on fixing the increasingly sclerotic, polarized, dysfunctional body they lead. Their agreement? Neither of them would fix it. Both promised not to change the rules of using a majority vote for at least four years. Nor did they set up an alternative process for taking a good, long look at why the Senate has begun to make a Beverly Hills divorce look courteous and functional. They just . . . moved on.

While American workers, who desperately need a jobs program, continue to bear the brunt of the Great Recession, and American corporate leaders continue to enjoy their greatest profits and highest bonuses ever, the Senate continues to … fiddle.

Klein quotes Jeff Pfeffer, a professor of organizational behavior at Stanford University:

“Remember when Mitch McConnell said ‘the single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president’? You would never say inside a company that our intention is to make the CEO fail. No one would tolerate that on a board. You’d be booted off. The objective is to make the CEO and the company successful.”

Klein sums it up:

In a world where the majority can govern with or without you, you have a strong incentive to participate constructively in the process. In a world where the majority can’t govern without you, and won’t be reelected if they can’t govern, you have a strong incentive to walk away from the process. Success for the majority means electoral failure for you. That means your interests and the country’s interests are not aligned.

Read the full article here.

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