Archive for December 20th, 2009

Bill Moyers: Our Capitol’s being looted

| December 20, 2009 | 1 Reply
Bill Moyers:  Our Capitol’s being looted

Bill Moyers, Robert Kuttner and Matt Taibbi had a vigorous discussion focusing on the health care “reform” and Wall Street “reform”:

Moyer’s take-home statement from the video:

Truth is, our capitol’s being looted, republicans are acting like the town rowdies, the sheriff is firing blanks, and powerful Democrats in Congress are in cahoots with the gang that’s pulling the heist. This is not capitalism at work. It’s capital. Raw money, mounds of it, buying politicians and policy as if they were futures on the hog market.

Robert Kuttner:

[T]hose of us who consider ourselves progressives invested so much in this remarkable figure, Barack Obama. And we read our own hopes into him. We saw him as a potentially great president. We saw this as a potentially transformative moment, I certainly did, where he could’ve chosen to be the kind of president Roosevelt was. And it turns out that’s not who is characteralogically and that’s not how he chose to play the moment.

Matt Taibbi:

[T]his individual mandate that’s going to force people to become customers of private health insurance companies, the Democrats are going to end up owning that policy and it’s going to be extremely unpopular and it’s going to be theirs for a generation. It’s going to be an albatross around the neck of this party . . . The Democrats are in exactly the same position that the Republicans were in once the Iraq War turned bad. All the Republicans have to do now is sit back and watch the Democrats make a disaster out of this health care effort. And they’re going to gain political capital whether they’re in the right or not. And I think it’s a very- it’s a terrible thing for the party.

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Imagine trying to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 using the legislative techniques of 2009

| December 20, 2009 | Reply
Imagine trying to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 using the legislative techniques of 2009

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is an impressive piece of legislation, but it would never pass today, certainly not in anything like the form in which it currently exists. Note: The actual Civil Rights Act of 1964 (which can be found here) is only 56 pages long (double spaced in 12 point Times Roman font). It contains clearly written provisions throughout its ten titles. For example, see the following language from Title II, SEC. 201.:

(a) All persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, and privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, as defined in this section, without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin.

But what would it have been like if present-day legislative techniques had been used by those attempting to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964? Most significantly, using modern strategies means that the proponents would be much more interested in passing legislation that sounded like it prevented discrimination, than passing legislation that actually prevented discrimination.

Here are some specific differences. If the 2009 legislative techniques were being used back in 1964:

-The Civil Rights Act would have been thousands of pages long, so long that most legislators would not be well-versed regarding its terms.

-Key deliberations and debate regarding the Civil Rights Act would have been conducted entirely in secret.

-The Civil Rights Act would’ve been filled with terms that the citizens themselves would not understand the effect of the bill. If asked about the bill, most American citizens would say something like, “I think it has something to do with discrimination but I’m not quite sure what the new law allows or prohibits.

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