The Atlantic still laments the departure/graduation/loss of our friend and colleague Joshua Green (at right), who did great work here for many years and is now at Bloomberg Businessweek. But he still is doing great work, most recently with a column for the Boston Globe on -- wait for it -- how the boring-sounding filibuster really has become a first-order distorting problem.
I turn the microphone over to Josh:
An easy way to grasp [the filibuster's] importance, and why filibuster abuse has made Washington such an angry, dysfunctional place, is to imagine what the country would look like without it.
Let's take only the Obama presidency. Had the filibuster not applied, the United States would have a market-based system to control carbon emissions, which would limit the damage from global warming, vitalize the clean technology sector, and challenge other large polluters like China and India to do the same. The new health care law would have a public option. Children of undocumented immigrants who served two years in the military or went to college could become US citizens. Women paid less than their male colleagues because of their gender would have broader legal recourse against their employers. Billionaires would not be able to manipulate the political system from behind a veil of anonymity.
Dozens of vacant judgeships would have been filled. The Federal Reserve would have operated with a full slate of governors, including Nobel Prize-winning economist Peter Diamond. Elizabeth Warren would be director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, not a candidate for the Senate....
Each of these measures passed the House and received, or would have received, at least the 50 votes necessary to pass the Senate -- but lacked the 60 votes to break a filibuster.
And while of course these are all Democratic measures that have been impeded --"Let's take only the Obama presidency" -- he immediately goes on to point out that a comparable use of the filibuster when the Republicans are back in control will hog-tie them as well.