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President Obama's Nightmare

There were some very interesting exchanges in yesterday's roundtable discussion with the President, Amato, Atrios, Oliver Willis, Joe Sudbay and BarbinMD from Kos, but the one that leapt out at me was toward the end, when he was discussing the

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There were some very interesting exchanges in yesterday's roundtable discussion with the President, Amato, Atrios, Oliver Willis, Joe Sudbay and BarbinMD from Kos, but the one that leapt out at me was toward the end, when he was discussing the filibuster.

What keeps me up at night is China, Germany, India, Brazil -- they’re moving. They make decisions, we’re going to pursue clean energy, and the next thing you know they’ve cornered half the clean energy market; we’re going to develop high-speed rail in the span of five years -- suddenly they’ve got high-speed rail lines going; we’re going to promote exports, here’s what we’re going to do -- boom, they get going. And if we can’t sort of execute on key issues that will determine our competitiveness over the long term, we’re going to fall behind -- we are going to fall behind.

And the filibuster is not part of the Constitution. The filibuster, if you look at the history of it, may have arisen purely by accident because somebody didn’t properly apply Robert’s Rules of Procedure and forgot to get a provision in there about what was required to close debate. And folks figured out very early, this could be a powerful tool. It was used as a limited tool throughout its history. Sadly, the primary way it was used was to prevent African Americans from achieving civil rights.

He couldn't have sent a clearer message: If Mitch McConnell has his way, nothing will be done in the Senate for the next 2 years, unless the filibuster rule is changed, and if the rule isn't changed, we will be left behind. His frame was perfect, because it plays directly to the "American exceptionalism" meme of the right, but he needs to go farther with it.

I somehow doubt that the corporate interests behind the nearly $400 million dollars poured into races around the country really care whether they make their money in the US or in China, for example. It's abundantly clear to me that our multinational corporations are profiting handsomely from their enterprises abroad, and it could well be that they'd just as soon leave it that way. Despite current bumps in the road, they seem to be willing to continue making investments in emerging markets over there, leaving US workers high and dry.

Those who suffer will be those of us left behind, the ones who actually live and work in this country. If we can't make infrastructure and emerging industry investments in this country, our prosperity will be sent overseas. (As an aside, that's why I find the name Americans for Prosperity to be so wildly ironic).

Filibuster reform will mean the difference between progress and regression. Now that it's been said, let's see it be done.

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