Obama: We Should Eliminate The Routine Use Of The Filibuster

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President Obama endorsed eliminating the routine use of the filibuster in his interview with Vox's Ezra Klein.

"Probably the one thing that we could change without a constitutional amendment that would make a difference here would be the elimination of the routine use of the filibuster in the Senate," Obama said. "I think that does, in an era in which the parties are more polarized, it almost ensures greater gridlock and less clarity in terms of the positions of the parties."

"The filibuster in this modern age probably just torques it too far in the direction of a majority party not being able to govern effectively and move forward its platform. And I think that's an area where we can make some improvement," Obama also said.

EZRA KLEIN, VOX: Do you think if we don't get some of those structural reforms, and more to the point, if we continue along this path, in terms of where the parties are in Congress, are there ways to govern with polarization? It occurs to me that [this was] your argument when you came to office. But before you, Bush was a "uniter not a divider," and before him Clinton, who was going to moderate and change the Democratic party with his sort of Third Way approach. The last couple of presidents have come to office promising the way they would get things done is to reduce polarization. Is there an argument or an approach that can be made to govern amidst polarization?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: A couple observations. Number one is that in American history — even during the so-called golden age where, you know, you had liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats and there was deal-cutting going on in Congress — generally speaking, big stuff didn't get done unless there was a major crisis and/or you had big majorities of one party controlling the Congress and a president of the same party. I mean, that's just been the history. There have been exceptions, but that's often been the case in terms of big-muscle movements in the political system. And you know, my first two years in office when I had a Democratic majority and Democratic House and Democratic Senate, we were as productive as any time since Lyndon Johnson. And when the majority went away, stuff got blocked.

Probably the one thing that we could change without a constitutional amendment that would make a difference here would be the elimination of the routine use of the filibuster in the Senate. Because I think that does, in an era in which the parties are more polarized, it almost ensures greater gridlock and less clarity in terms of the positions of the parties. There's nothing in the Constitution that requires it. The framers were pretty good about designing a House, a Senate, two years versus six-year terms, every state getting two senators. There were a whole bunch of things in there to assure that a majority didn't just run rampant. The filibuster in this modern age probably just torques it too far in the direction of a majority party not being able to govern effectively and move forward its platform. And I think that's an area where we can make some improvement.


(Read the interview at Vox.com)

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