Best columns: The U.S.
It’s time to kill the filibuster
Jamelle Bouie Slate.com
For the sake of our democracy, the Republicans should kill the filibuster once and for all, said Jamelle Bouie. After changing Senate rules last week to eliminate the 60-vote requirement for approval of Supreme Court nominees, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he had no intention of eliminating the filibuster for legislation. But let’s hope “ McConnell goes nuclear again.” Many Democrats would be outraged if the GOP changed the rules so that legislation could pass with a simple 51-vote majority, because it would make it far easier for President Trump and the congressional Republican majority to enact its agenda on health care, taxes, and other issues. But in the long run, enabling the party in power to pass legislation would give us a more democratic Congress. The filibuster—a 19th-century rule that is not in the Constitution— supposedly prevents “the tyranny of the majority.” But in our extremely polarized environment, the minority party filibusters virtually every proposed law. The 60-vote requirement has become a weapon of obstructionism, giving us a gridlocked Congress. The party that wins an election should have the ability to deliver on its promises—so voters can clearly judge its successes and failures. “Let the filibuster burn!”
The only health-care option left
Jonathan Chait NYMag.com
Repeal and reform is dead, said Jonathan Chait, so there’s only one way for President Trump “to avoid complete catastrophe on health care.” That’s “to make a deal with Democrats to fix Obamacare.” Republicans tried and failed last week to revive their repeal plan, which is doomed: The hard-line Freedom Caucus objects to all government subsidies for health care, while moderates in the House and Senate fear angering their constituents by taking insurance coverage away. A recent poll found that 75 percent of Americans now want Trump and Congress to “do what they can” to make the Affordable Care Act work. Fixing the program’s problems “would be a relatively simple matter.” Modest increases in federal funding for subsidies for young people and rural markets would boost enrollment, and bring insurers back to states that have too few of them. Democrats might be willing to work with Trump on health care, if he’s willing to preserve coverage for those who already have it; Republicans, meanwhile, need to avoid “a policy debacle that might lead to a wave election against them in 2018.” Working with Democrats is Trump’s only viable health-care option. “Whether he is smart enough to realize that is another story.”
Giving up our rights as citizens
Lubana Adi Los Angeles Times
“One of the happiest moments of my life was the day in 1999 when I became an American citizen,” said Lubana Adi. But after my recent experience at Los Angeles International Airport, I wonder if the Constitution still applies to U.S. citizens who happen to be Muslim. I had bought a ticket to Turkey to visit my mother and two brothers, who moved there as Syrian refugees, but was immediately sent to a separate security line. There I had my purse and carry-on completely emptied, and underwent two body scans and two very aggressive body searches, with a female TSA employee reaching between my legs. When they were done, I went to the gate—where several armed men and women searched my body again, demanded to know how I got a passport, and tested my feet for traces of explosives. When I finally boarded the plane, four armed men converged on me and interrogated me harshly, with one asking in Arabic if I was familiar with “Daesh”—that is, ISIS. Upon my return to the U.S., I endured a similar ordeal, with a threehour interrogation and the examination of my cellphone’s contents. My fellow Americans, if they can do this to me, they can do this to you.