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Getting to 60 in 2018 2017-12-28 69 1 1 3 9 2 democracy
Biennial Affirmation of Elected Federal Officials 2017-12-04 9 - democracy
Comment: "I suggest recalls from the State 2017-12-03 8 - 2 democracy

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UPDATED Thu Feb 4 11:48:38 PST 2021


Getting to 60 in 2018

The Senate requires 60 votes to pass most legislation -
the recent tax bill was passed with 51 votes under a
process called reconciliation which imposes quite a few
limits on what can be passed.

The website get-to-sixty.net argues that the Senate should
have started over on the tax bill and worked to get at
least 30 Republican and 30 Democratic votes.    Too late
for that now, but what's next for the period Jan 3 -
Nov 6 2018?  Here's some suggestions:

Continuing resolutions are required to keep the government
running when Congress can't pass a budget, which is most of
the time.     No good purpose is served by unpredictable
temporary shutdowns and restarts of government services.
As a general principle of good government, continuing
resolutions should not address any other matters.
Republicans and Democrats alike are fond of using
continuing resolutions as leverage for other matters,
but it's bad government when the Republicans do it and
bad government when the Democrats do it.   So don't do it.

Less frequently, resolutions are required to raise the
Federal debt limit.  No good purpose is served by veering
toward default on US Government obligations.  As a general
principle of good government, debt ceiling resolutions
should not address any other matters.  Republicans and
Democrats alike are fond of using debt ceiling resolutions
as leverage for other matters, but it's bad government
when the Republicans do it and bad government when the
Democrats do it.  So don't do it.

So for these two categories, Democrats and Republicans
alike should vote for clean resolutions and against those
bundled with other issues.  What about everything else?

The Democratic Senate caucus should strive toward
bipartisan solutions by declining to vote for any
legislative initiatives that have less than 30 Democratic
votes.     The Republican strategy will be to try to pick
off the nine Democratic votes they need to get to sixty,
basically by bribes or threats.  Don't let them do that!

Let the Republicans who want to solve problems find common
ground with the Democrats that want to solve problems.
Ignore the President and those Senators of both parties
that just want to create problems rather than solve them.

In particular, the Republicans now own tax law and
Obamacare.    It's up to them to come up with solutions
that appeal to 30 Democrats when they need them.


Republican Congressional leadership planned for Trump
to sign the tax bill early in January, rather than late
in December, to avoid triggering something called PAYGO
in 2018 before elections, rather than afterward in 2019.
But Trump had promised to sign a tax bill before Christmas,
so he did.  Congressional Democrats apparently went along
with a continuing resolution that waived PAYGO with respect
to the tax bill.    Trump signed the continuing resolution
the same day as the tax bill.     I wonder if the Democrats
threw away a potential point of leverage there.  Don't vote
for continuing resolutions with other matters tacked on!

What's PAYGO?
It's a system for keeping deficits under control.
It was thought to be a factor in timing the signing of
the tax bill:
But in the end, the Democrats went along:


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posted 2017-12-28
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title Getting to 60 in 2018
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posted "12/28/2017 07:57:30 PM"
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Biennial Affirmation of Elected Federal Officials

Considering the lack of mechanism for recalling elected
Federal officials and the barely-better-than-nothing
mechanism of no confidence resolutions discussed in
no-confidence-vote.net, perhaps there is a better
way of providing relatively quick removal of grossly
unsatisfactory officials.

Federal elections occur in November of even-numbered
years.    How about a re-affirmation vote in November of
odd-numbered years?     Within each state, For each Federal
office - president, vice-president, both senators, all
representatives - there is a ballot question: vote either

 AFFIRM: The people of California AFFIRM the competence
 of XYZ as United States Representative.
 REJECT: The people of California REJECT the competence
 of XYZ as United States Representative, and the Secretary
 of State, in accordance with California law, shall direct
 the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives
 to initiate expulsion of XYZ from that House.

For Senators, the California Secretary of State shall
direct the President of the United States Senate (that's
the US VP).

For President and Vice-President, the direction is to the
Speaker of the House to initiate impeachment.

The California law would be that a 2/3 REJECT vote is
required for the California Secretary of State to direct
the Feds.    "Direct" is perhaps too strong;
"urge" would be more realistic.  But each House
of Congress has the power to "with the Concurrence
of two thirds, expel a Member."  One would expect
Congress to act after a 2/3 rejection from the state's
voters; that means that the rejectee who presumably
had won with at least 50% had lost at least a third of
his supporters.  It's 2/3 to avoid electing somebody
with 51% one year and rejecting them with 49% the next
year and perhaps returning them to office with 51% the
following year.  2/3 majorities are pretty uncommon in
general elections; this would be a rare event, hard for
the rejectee to recover from politically, and hence more
likely to be acted on by Congress.

There's no necessary implication of wrong-doing; simple
incompetence is a good enough reason if it's egregious
enough to 2/3 of the voters.  But anybody losing by 2/3
had probably committed financial or moral corruption far
beyond simple incompetence.   The rejectee would not be
disqualified for running for office again if he thought
he could recover his lost support.

What would happen if the Senate or House did expel a
member?    As with other vacancies, in most states the
governor would appoint a temporary substitute and schedule
a special election to elect a successor to finish the term
of the rejectee.    Candidates to succeed the rejectee do
not launch campaigns until the rejectee is expelled and
the special election scheduled.

The House would not initiate impeachment proceedings of
the President or VP on the basis of one state's rejection.
But if enough states rejected, it would be a cumulative
vote of no confidence that might spur the House to act.
Then the constitutional impeachment process would proceed
through the House and Senate.

Having the affirm/reject vote on every elected Federal
official on every odd year, during an election which is
already scheduled to decide state offices and issues,
avoids the expense of a signature gathering process and
a special election.

Note that it's important for the President and VP to be
on the odd-year ballot; turnout for other offices and
issues is better when voters can express their support or
unsupport for the President.

No amendment to the Federal Constitution is required;
the necessary state rules could be authorized by statute
of each state legislature.

Note that this is different from the current California
recall process for elected state officials; there
is a slate of one of more replacement candidates to
be chosen from if the recall succeeds; the recall and
replacement occur in the same election.  That's because
recall elections are pretty rare and often succeed.
In contrast, the mechanism outlined above for Federal
elected officials would happen every two years but seldom
result in a rejection.


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posted 2017-12-04
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title Biennial Affirmation of Elected Federal Officials
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posted "12/04/2017 09:44:47 PM"
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Comment: "I suggest recalls from the State

The Constitution has no provision for recall of elected
legislators.  Instead either house may "with the
Concurrence of two thirds, expel a Member."

So either or both houses might adopt a resolution promising
to expel any member properly recalled under the laws
of that state.   That wouldn't require a constitutional
amendment, but would break down the first time the majority
party refused to expel one of its properly recalled
members.     One could easily imagine that happening.

There are a couple of issues with recall worth considering.
First, the reforms of initiative, referendum, and recall
were originally populist ideas to restore the power of the
people against interests entrenched in the legislature.
But nowadays it's been exactly reversed; ballot measures
are often used by various special interests to avoid
dealing with the legislature.  That's due to the power of
money in politics.

The ultimate solution to that is to limit all political
contributions to registered voters, with all contributions
publicly and promptly tabulated so voters can see who's
buying what.  Note in particular no political contributions
from foreign sources, nor from organizations, except
organizations like PACs that would pass through individual
contributions, retaining the identity of the donor.
americanpromise.net is working on a less extreme version
of that.

Barring that, a more specific restriction would simply
bar any kind of payment to persons soliciting signatures
for ballot measures.  Or at least, a requirement that such
solicitors sign under oath whether they have received or
will accept any compensation for their efforts, and on the
final ballot the secretary of state state what percentage
of qualifying signatures was obtained by paid circulators.

A final consideration is multi-member elections with
preferential balloting.  It's an idea promoted by
fairvote.org to increase centrism and decrease extremism;
it would make it possible to have e.g. one Republican
senator from California and one Democratic senator from
Texas, both of which are pretty unlikely unless both
senators from a state are elected in the same multi-member
election with preferential balloting.      The problem with
recall is that everybody in the same multi-member district
would have to be recalled at once, otherwise selective
recall would be used to undo minority representation.


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posted 2017-12-03
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title Comment: "I suggest recalls from the State
topic democracy
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posted "12/03/2017 01:53:00 PM"
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