MFG 2.0

Ever Wondered How The U.S. Senate Works?

... or, more accurately, doesn't?

A great article by George Packer asks, "Just how broken is the Senate?" Here are a couple key quotes to get you started -- the entire article is worth a read:

Like investment bankers on Wall Street, senators these days direct much of their creative energy toward the manipulation of arcane rules and loopholes, scoring short-term successes while magnifying their institution’s broader dysfunction.

Several of the Republican amendments had been designed to make Democrats look hypocritical, by forcing them to vote against policies that the Party typically supports. One amendment, for example, declared that the health-care bill could not be linked to a tax hike on individuals making less than two hundred thousand dollars a year. Other amendments were more nakedly partisan, and outlandish. David Vitter, a Louisiana Republican, proposed an amendment that repealed the entire law. Senator Tom Coburn, a Republican obstetrician from Oklahoma, introduced an amendment to insure that veterans diagnosed with mental illness would not be denied the right to own firearms, and another to prevent “convicted child molesters, rapists, and sex offenders” from buying erectile-dysfunction drugs with taxpayer funds. Coburn got through the minute he was allotted to explain his Viagra amendment without cracking a smile. “This is not a game amendment,” he insisted. “It actually saves money.”

So many senators snickered that the presiding officer banged his gavel for order.

And my favorite quote (I only say "favorite" not because I like to read about the sorry state of affairs in the US Senate, but because it summed up what I was thinking the entire time I was reading Packer's piece):

Michael Bennet, a freshman Democrat from Colorado, said, “Sit and watch us for seven days—just watch the floor. You know what you’ll see happening? Nothing. When I’m in the chair, I sit there thinking, I wonder what they’re doing in China right now?”

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