Thursday, July 09, 2020

Nancy Pelosi: The Dessicated Ambitions And Oxygen Thievery Of An Eighty Year Old Poodle

prospect |  Pelosi rolled back student debt relief in the HEROES Act after learning that it would cost $100 billion more than expected. This was a $3.2 trillion messaging bill not designed to become law, yet an additional 3 percent cost was considered unacceptable. Pelosi also declined to add “automatic stabilizers” that would maintain expanded benefits until economic stress dissipated, blaming a Congressional Budget Office scoring quirk that made the cost appear artificially larger.

So with over 30 million out of work, the important thing to Pelosi was that her pie-in-the-sky, going-nowhere bill was “reasonable,” based on some ineffable standard of reason. It matches the worldview of a Democratic leader who, just two years ago, made a lugubrious elegy on the House floor after the death of Pete Peterson, who bankrolled the deficit hysteria industry for decades and relentlessly targeted Social Security for cuts. (Ball does reveal that Pelosi told Obama during his “grand bargain” talks that she would support his aims, “even if it meant agreeing to entitlement cuts.”)

Devotion to deficit hawkery in normal times is unwise policy. It’s downright fatal during an economic crisis, where relief could be yanked away from needy families prematurely simply because of an unwillingness to challenge CBO’s scoring model. But here we finally see the contours of Pelosi’s governing framework, not just on the budget, but on everything.

Pelosi believes that the nation’s resources are scarce, and what sadly passes for the modern welfare state must be protected at all costs, rather than raised to greater heights. The goal is, at best, a less bad world than Republicans want. It’s a defensive crouch dating back to Pelosi’s initial entry into Congress under President Reagan, and it has dominated her thinking ever since.

Progressives who dream too big are to be sat in a corner, and anti-government conservatives are to be bargained with and mollified. Official Washington’s approval is craved. Pelosi hosts an annual ideas conference at her own vineyard for a group of elite donors. That’s who gets to scale the fortress she has built around her desiccated ambitions. Her thoughts today on activism date back to something she said during her first campaign: “Someday they will realize just how insignificant they are.”

Pelosi demands total control; you can argue that she never groomed a successor for this purpose, to keep everyone reliant on her. She finds this to be the best method to gain leverage over the legislative process. But to what end is this leverage employed? Pelosi fights intensely to obtain power, but she seems to consider power so fragile and fleeting that it shouldn’t be used for very much.


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