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Senate Rules Kill Bailout, Foil Democracy

By Michael Collins  Posted by Michael Collins (about the submitter)     Permalink
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Senate Rules Kill Bailout, Foil Democracy

Rigged Game Stops Vote on Bill

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Michael Collins

(Wash. DC)  The Unites States Senate voted down a "cloture" resolution last night killing the automaker bailout before it was even considered.  Failure to gain approval for cloture opened the bill up to an anticipated filibuster.  General Motors, the largest U.S. manufacturer, is in terrible shape financially and may not survive the month.

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GM has 270,000 employees.

Harry Reid (D-NV), the Senate Majority Leader, offered these stirring words:  "If there is no agreement that can be reached ... we have danced this tune long enough."  Dec. 12, 2008 Reid joined the majority of Republicans in opposing cloture.

Cloture resolutions require a 60% yes vote to pass.  A simple majority won't do.   The final Senate vote on cloture was 52 in favor, 35 opposed, with 12 not present.  The motion failed to meet the 60% standard by eight votes.  Even with those not present, the resolution would have likely failed.

A look at the Senate vote in terms of population shows that senators representing just 26% of citizens overcame senators whose states account for 64% total U.S. population.  The nay saying Senators represent 78 million citizens, while those who wanted to vote on the bill account for 192 million.  The remaining 30 million are factored in for the 12 no shows.

Tyranny of the Minority

Most of the anti bailout support came from less populated, less industrialized states with lower wage for workers and unions that are deliberately weakened by state law.  Some of the states with strong Senate bailout opponents are the home of foreign automakers, e.g., Alabama, South Carolina.

The geographic breakdown looks like this:

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Senate voting by geographic segment
(Assumptions)

You can develop your own assumptions on how to allocate populations to Senators. However you do it, it's clear that once again the will of the majority is frustrated by the minority.

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