LAWRENCE O’DONNELL: Today you said that the base, your base in the Democratic party…
LAWRENCE O’DONNELL: …should quote “stop whining.” I’m gonna give you an opportunity you used to have in the Senate, Mr. Vice President, would you like to revise and extend your remarks on that one?
BIDEN: Yes. What I think, what I mean… there’s some on the Democratic base, not the core of it, that are angry because we didn’t get every single thing they want. We got a health care bill that is becoming, every day it’ll become more apparent how much it does for people and businesses in terms of costs and availability. But because there was no public option some of them are so angry they say “we’re not gonna participate.” They should stop that. These guys, if they win, the other team, they’re gonna repeal health care, and I want them to tell me why what we did wasn’t an incredibly significant move that’s progressive and helping people. The same way with a lot of other issues. It’s time to focus.
Biden goes on to argue that liberals need to “buck up.” He adds, “there’s a new majority in the Senate, 60 votes.” And thus, per Biden, Obama couldn’t get a lot of what he wanted.
Two problems with that line of argument. First, George Bush did just fine with a 55 vote, and even a 50 vote, majority in the Senate. Why couldn’t Obama/Biden do just as well with 60?
Second, the reason there’s a new majority in the Senate, 60 votes, is because Democrats let it happen. I remember a few months ago when one of the Republican Senators, Jim Bunning, was filibustering unemployment benefits for hundreds of thousands of American workers. Obama did a remarkable thing. Joe reported on it, here’s what happened:
A few minutes ago on CNN, Ed Henry reported that he’d been tipped off by the White House that Obama was going to take “a jab” at Senator Bunning today when he got off Air Force One today in Georgia. Bunning certainly deserves the jab.
According to Henry, the White House informed him that the Bunning line was removed from the President’s speech because Obama felt it would be too partisan. And, in any case, the brain trust at the White House doesn’t want to involve the President in every minute detail of what the Senate does.
Bunning’s filibuster has blocked benefits for hundreds of thousands of unemployed Americans. It’s stopped construction projects. It’s not a minor thing. Time after time, Republican filibusters have put the brakes on Obama’s agenda. And, why not? There are no consequences. The President sure doesn’t hold them accountable. What Bunning is doing is probably one of the most egregious filibusters to date. But, he’s getting a pass from Obama.
It might be a good idea for the President to engage himself in the Senate’s proceedings when the consequences are so enormous. People might like to know that their President is fighting for them instead of avoiding a fight.
The President refused to challenge someone standing in the way of his agenda. Sound familiar?
The reason the Republicans have been able to filibuster nearly every single piece of legislation, the reason we have a new majority in the Senate, is because Democrats – with Barack Obama at the top of the list – have enabled the Republicans every step of the way.
Rather than lecturing Democrats about how unreasonable they are to be upset with the President for constantly negotiating with himself, Biden would do better having a talk with his boss, and asking him why George Bush was so effective at passing his agenda, at kow-towing Democrats, and at thwarting opposition filibusters, when Bush had far fewer numbers than Obama has now in the US Senate.
60 is the new 50 because Democrats permit it be so.