One of the reasons that some progressives use to argue against eliminating the filibuster is that the filibuster is the only reason Social Security wasn't handed over to Wall Street in Bush's privatization scheme.
Well, its time to forget that idea. A group of Democratic Senators are now working to eliminate the filibuster for--wait for it--legislation that would cut Social Security. Emphasis mine:
Senators from both parties on Tuesday put new pressure on Speaker Nancy Pelosi to turn the power to trim entitlement benefits over to an independent commission.(...)
Among its chief responsibilities would be closing the gap between tax revenue coming in and the larger cost of paying for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits. The Government Accountability Office recently reported the gap is on pace to reach an "unsustainable" $63 trillion in 2083.
The panel would also have the power to craft legislation that would change the tax code and set limits on government spending.
The legislation would then be subject to an up-or-down vote; it could not be amended.
15 Democratic Senators are backing this idea:
A group of 15 Democratic senators say they will not vote for deficit-boosting legislation unless the commission is created.
So, there is already a majority in the Senate for removing the filibuster for Social Security.
At this point, a minimum of 56 Democratic Senators are needed to keep this commission from coming into existence. As the Senate forecast from earlier today showed, Republicans have a pretty good chance to gain four seats in the Senate in 2010. They will also gain seats in the House, where lots of Blue Dogs are eager to support this commission as well. President Obama also supports the commission:
In an interview with the Washington Post, Obama said a new commission may be needed to examine reforms for addressing the deficit and the huge programs that contribute to the flow of red ink.
"I think we're in a position to be able to, either at the end of this year or early next year, start laying out a broader picture about how we are going to handle entitlements in a serious way," Obama said.
Eventually, either in 2010 or 2011, Democrats will destroy the filibuster for legislation that will slash Social Security and Medicare. They will do it with the support of the White House, and many Democrats in both the house and Senate.
This going to happen. In the short term, the only thing stopping it is Speaker Pelosi, not the filibuster. And, even if the filibuster is preventing this for now, many Democrats are happy to come up with a means to circumvent the filibuster. They just don't want to go around the filibuster for health care.
If you want to argue that we need to keep the filibuster, you better come up with a better reason than saving Social Security. That train has left the station.
Names of 11 of the Democratic Senators in the extended entry