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Saturday, May 02, 2009

Death of the 111th Filibuster--A Dark Specter Ahead

With Senator Specter's transfer to the Democratic party, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid effectively face no opposition to their plans. None whatsoever. This has several possible effects, some good, others not.

First, not only will Congressional Democrats be able to pass on runaway spending programs with their President in power--just as the Republicans did 8 years ago--they also will be able to do it on a scale much larger and quicker than the Republicans ever had. The Republicans never had that filibuster or veto proof majority. And you thought their spending was bad.

Next, Obama will have much less opposition. Even the Democrats who were not too comfortable with him will now find it harder to oppose him: With so much power, the Democrats will be able to exert significantly more party pressure over their members. The few conservative Democrats more inclined towards fiscal responsibility will be even LESS likely to defect to the Republican coalition. I see this as a negative development in that it opens up Congress to quicker, smoother passage of their legislation, which means more rent-seeking and interest group muddling in DC politics.

One other thing: The Republicans have to now come up with something outside of their principles that will attract voters. They are clearly on the run here, and need something new and fresh to gain some appeal back from the Democrats. The rampant spending likely to come will also probably mean lots of handouts, which means votes for Democrats in many cases.

Overall, I see Specter's defection as negative, as I would see it as a negative if it were the vice versa situation. Too much power in one party opens the way for rent-seeking and highly inefficient policies that centralize and corporatize American industry, resulting in deadweight losses, I believe, for consumers.

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